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What is backup withholding?

Persons (payers) making certain payments to payees must withhold and pay to the IRS a specified percentage of those payments under certain conditions. Payments that may be subject to backup withholding include interest, dividends, rents, royalties, commissions, non-employee compensation, and other payments including broker proceeds and barter exchange transactions, reportable gross proceeds paid to attorneys, and certain payments made by fishing boat operators. Payments that are excluded from backup withholding are real estate transactions, foreclosures and abandonments, cancelled debts, distributions from Archer Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs), long-term care benefits, distributions from any retirement account, distributions from an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), fish purchases for cash, unemployment compensation, state or local income tax refunds, and qualified tuition program earnings.

For additional information see Publication 1281, Backup Withholding.