Back to Blog
What is this New Nominee Reporting Obligation under the PTP Withholding Provisions of the Proposed QI Agreement?
Amongst the unexpected and peculiar features of the proposed Qualified Intermediary (QI) Agreement–as expanded to cover withholding on payments from publicly-traded partnerships (PTPs)–the new nominee reporting requirement per §6031 of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) stands apart.
Background to the Revamped Sections of the Proposed QI Agreement
In May 2022, the US Treasury Department released IRS Notice 2022-23, a proposed revision to the QI Agreement. Under the new draft sections, QIs may assume withholding and reporting obligations under §§ 1446(a) and 1446(f) of the US Treasury Regulations for payments connected to PTPs. The new provisions for PTP withholding are needed because a Non-US Person who sells an interest in a partnership that could earn income effectively connected with a US trade or business is subject to US federal income taxation per §864(c)(8) of the 2017 tax legislation. In parallel to this substantive rule, Congress added a new withholding dimension under §1446, imposing on a buyer of an interest subject to §864(c)(8) the obligation to withhold 10% of the amount realized.
For further elaboration on these concepts, please refer the MTL blogs on §§ 864(c)(8) and 1446(a) and (f), here.
The §1446(f) statutory provision, however, did not explain how that ought to work for PTPs, where the buyer and seller are typically invisible to one another. As such, the US Treasury Department promptly suspended the withholding regime for PTPs via IRS Notice 2018-02 and, via a series of subsequent notifications and the publication of the withholding regulations in late 2020, eventually, pushed the activation date to 1 January 2023. With the revamped QI Agreement, the PTP withholding regime is moving into the implementation phase. As stated in the preamble to Notice 2022-23, the objective of the new PTP sections to the QI Agreement is straightforward: To align the treatment of PTP payments with those of payments traditionally processed by non-US custodial institutions. However, rather than ensuring frictionless continuity from dividend withholding to PTP payment withholding, the proposed QI Agreement introduces a few novel aspects to the QI Regime.
Nominee Reporting Requirements under the Proposed QI Agreement for PTP Withholding
Some novel aspects of the proposed QI Agreement for PTP Withholding, such as the new official QI status of the “Disclosing QI” and strict demands for US Taxpayer Identification Numbers (TINs) from non-US Persons, may be disruptive of existing QI operations. Only one new feature, however, obliges parties to set up and maintain a fresh tax reporting mechanism: Nominee reporting.
Nominee reporting per §6031(c) of the IRC is not a new provision and it serves an essential role outside the QI Regime. Anytime a nominee holds a partnerships interest (of any partnership, not just a PTP), the nominee is charged with ensuring that the partnership has sufficient information on the beneficial owner to provide an accurate Schedule K-1 to the partner and analogous return to the IRS. Prior to this year’s draft QI Agreement, the §6031(c) concept of a “nominee” was commonly understood to refer to a Person holding the reportable partnership interest during the partnership’s tax year in its own name on behalf of the beneficial owner of the interest (see e.g. Treas. Regs. §1.6031(c)-1T). For this reason and because PTP and other partnership interests were previously held in non-QI accounts, nominee reporting did not concern the QI system. That has now changed.
Proposed Section 2.92 of the new draft QI Agreement adds a series of new definitions to accommodate the jargon of PTP withholding and partnership taxation, one of which is a definition of a “Nominee,” which explicitly includes Withholding QIs. Furthermore, proposed Section 8.07 widens the nominee reporting requirement to the other types of QI statuses, as follows–
While the mechanics of nominee reporting under IRC §6031 are markedly less cumbersome than some of the other reporting required of QIs, it constitutes an additional reporting function that must be set up, tested and maintained. First, the QI must be certain it can collect all mandatory information (notably, US TINs) before it opts for a strategy, which may depend upon interchanges of information with third parties, which tend to slow down or complicate tax reporting. Second, PTP interests may need to be shifted across custodial accounts in order to avert duplicative reports to the IRS. Third, if the QI decides to adopt the option under§ 1.6031(c)-1T(h) to intermediate the K-1s from the PTP to the beneficial owner partner, it will need a grasp of US partnership taxation concepts to provide a meaningful review of the information for which it is responsible. Finally, any defect with respect to nominee reporting is a material failure (Section 10.03(B)(1)) which, if left uncorrected, would lead to an event of default and the termination of the entity’s QI status.
While any of the above challenges around nominee reporting under IRC §6031 and the new PTP Withholding provisions of the proposed QI Agreement may be softened in the final version of the QI Agreement (the IRS expressly requested comments on Section 8.07 in the preamble), It is a necessary evil. Thus, nominee reporting will likely remain a new and unexpected obligation for most QIs to fulfil.
If you wish to discuss the above analysis or any other aspects of the QI Regime in greater detail, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a conversation.