FAC & MMF Central Withholding Tax Seminar

08 March 2012

Did you know that there is a law in the USA that means you could lose 30% of your income on any tour, gig, event or indeed live performance you planned on getting paid for?

The Withholding Tax law in the States presents a major issue for any manager planning on taking their artist(s) to the United States. Generally if you are a “non-resident entertainer performing in the United States” you are subject to 30 percent withholding of gross income.  Note that it is 30% of gross not the net income. This tax is basically levied on any income related to the live performance so will include direct and indirect fees. Paying a third party is still caught by the rules. This withholding tax on income from performances (not to be confused with the withholding tax on royalties which is a separate thing) even covers crew members so if you don’t get it right expect a disgruntled crew. There is some concern that for the future merchandising may become a target for the IRS.

The only way to prevent a huge chunk of your money disappearing is by entering into a “treaty” or Central Withholding Agreement (CWA) with the IRS. The agreement should cover a specific tour or series of events and the withholding is then based on the budgeted income and profits. As complex as this sounds, help is at hand; Richard Stoller, a withholding tax specialist from New York, will be visiting the UK in March on business and has agreed to give some time to the members of MMF in order to present a review of the CWA, how it operates and how it can be mitigated. Richard will be looking at a host of issues including how to reduce your exposure to CWA taxes, how to protect merchandising, how crew are dealt with and what business vehicles you can use in the USA to reduce potential liability to tax.

Richard is a partner in the New York office of accountants Prager & Fenton. As a CPA (Certified Public Accountant), he is very experienced in the business management of recording and performing artistes. He is a specialist in dealing with Central Withholding Agreements (CWA) and with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS – equivalent of our HMRC).

We are very pleased to be collaborating with Eversheds the lawyers, who are members of the MMF and support our activities, on this event as they have one of the most well-established and highly regarded media and entertainment practices in the UK. They provide a full range of services in the entertainment business, including advice on television, music and film. They also have a highly rated reputation management practice, which uses a wide range of legal tools to protect clients when their reputations are threatened. Their client list includes some of the biggest names in the world as well as those shaping the future of the industry.

The seminar will be held at Eversheds, 1 Wood Street, EC2V 7WS on Wednesday 21st March at 4pm.  In addition to Richard’s presentation there will be light refreshments afterwards and a chance to talk directly to our speaker. There are a limited number of places and therefore we are allocating them on a first come first served basis.

If you wish to attend please email your name and the company/artist you represent to Fiona at

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