The United States has entered into income tax treaties with approximately 66 foreign countries. Under these treaties, foreign artists may be exempt from U.S. income taxes on the compensation they earn for services performed in the U.S. If a treaty exemption applies to a particular foreign artist, and the proper documentation is presented to the presenter or other payer, the 30% withholding requirement will not apply to that artist.
IRS Publication 901, U.S. Tax Treaties, summarizes the treaty exemptions on a country-by-country basis. However, this publication includes only a summary of each treaty. Because each tax treaty varies from the others, and because the treaties are sometimes updated, anyone relying on a tax treaty exemption should check the relevant treaty itself before relying on the exemption. Each tax treaty is available for viewing or download on the IRS website at http://www.irs.gov/businesses/international/article/0,,id=96739,00.html.
There are several types of exemptions in the tax treaties that may be applicable to foreign performers: The Business Profits Exemption, The Artists or Entertainers Exemption, and The Independent Personal Services Exemption.