Understanding FIRPTA: The Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act

If you are considering investing in U.S. real estate as a foreign individual or entity, it is important to familiarize yourself with the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act (FIRPTA). FIRPTA is a federal law that imposes certain tax obligations on foreign investors when they sell or dispose of U.S. real property interests. In this blog post, we will delve into the key aspects of FIRPTA and how it may affect your real estate investments.

What is FIRPTA?

FIRPTA was enacted in 1980 to ensure that foreign investors are subject to U.S. taxation on gains derived from the sale of U.S. real property interests. Under FIRPTA, when a foreign person sells a U.S. real property interest, the buyer is required to withhold a certain percentage of the gross sales price and remit it to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This withholding serves as a way to ensure that the foreign seller satisfies their U.S. tax obligations.

How does FIRPTA impact foreign investors?

FIRPTA has significant implications for foreign investors in U.S. real estate. Firstly, it is essential for foreign sellers to understand that they may be subject to a withholding tax of up to 15% of the gross sales price. This amount is withheld by the buyer and paid to the IRS on behalf of the foreign seller. However, the actual withholding amount can vary depending on factors such as the sales price and the intended use of the property.

Additionally, FIRPTA creates reporting requirements for both the buyer and the seller. The buyer is required to submit Form 8288 to the IRS, reporting the withholding amount and other relevant information. The seller, on the other hand, must file a U.S. tax return (Form 1040NR) to report the sale and potentially claim a refund of any excess withholding.


Navigating the intricacies of FIRPTA is crucial for foreign investors in U.S. real estate. Failure to comply with FIRPTA requirements can result in penalties and complications during the sale process. Therefore, it is advisable for foreign investors to work with experienced professionals who can guide them through the FIRPTA compliance process and ensure a smooth transaction. By understanding FIRPTA and its implications, foreign investors can confidently pursue their real estate investment goals in the United States.

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Adam John
Adam John
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