Small Business Taxes & Management

Special Report

Aliens Employed in the U.S.


Small Business Taxes & ManagementTM--Copyright 2007, A/N Group, Inc.


Any employer who hires aliens to perform services within the United States should comply with the following general procedures with respect to the reporting and withholding of federal income taxes:

  1. A nonresident alien cannot write "exempt" on line 7 of Form W-4.
  2. A nonresident alien may claim only "single" filing status on line 3 of Form W-4, even if he is married.
  3. With certain exceptions, a nonresident alien cannot claim more than one personal exemption on Form W-4. For an explanation of the exceptions, refer to the "Exemptions" section on Figuring Your Tax. .
  4. or wages paid prior to January 1, 2006, a nonresident alien (NRA) was required to write in an additional withholding amount on line 6 of Form W-4. For wages paid after December 31, 2005, NRA employees are required to fill out Form W-4 in the special way described at " Withholding Exemptions--Personal Exemptions--Form W-4". In addition, see the instructions for NRA Forms W-4 contained in Chapter 9 of Publication 15.
  5. Some nonresident aliens are eligible for exemptions from federal income tax withholding on wages because of tax treaties. To claim the exemption they must file Form 8233 (PDF) with the employer.
  6. Nonresident aliens who fail to file, or file an invalid Form W-4, as required by IRS regulations shall have federal income taxes withheld at the rates pertaining to single status, zero exemptions.
  7. Employers must report wages exempt under a tax treaty paid to a nonresident alien on Forms 1042 (PDF) and 1042-S (PDF). Any additional wages paid to a nonresident alien over and above the exempt amount are reported on Form W-2 in the normal manner. Even in situations in which all of a nonresident alien's wages are exempt from federal income tax under an income tax treaty, and in which all his federal wages would be reported on Form 1042-S, the filing of a Form W-2 for such alien is usually also required in order to report state and local wage amounts and state and local income taxes withheld on such alien's wages.

Some income tax treaties allow alien students and scholars who have become resident aliens of the United States to exempt part or all of their U.S. source wages from U.S. taxation. Treaty-exempt wages paid to a resident alien in these situations should be reported on Form W-2, and not on Form 1042-S. In these situations, block 2 (Federal Income Tax Withheld) of Form W-2 may show zero or a reduced amount of federal income tax withheld because of the tax treaty exemption. Refer to Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens for instructions on how a resident alien claiming a tax treaty benefit should file his/her U.S. federal individual income tax return.

Exceptions to Mandatory Withholding of Federal Income Tax on Nonresident Aliens:

1. IRC 861(a)(3) / IRC 864(b)(1)-Wages or Nonemployee Compensation are exempt from withholding of federal income tax if all 3 of the following conditions are met:

2. IRC 872(b)(3)- Wages or Nonemployee Compensation are exempt from withholding of federal income tax if both the following 2 conditions are met:


Copyright 2007 by A/N Group, Inc. This publication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is distributed with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The information is not necessarily a complete summary of all materials on the subject.--ISSN 1089-1536

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--Last Update 09/05/07