181. MUST A SELLER ON SELLER’S AFFIDAVIT OF NON-FOREIGN STATUS PROVIDE SOCIAL SECURITY # TO THE BUYER?

Yes. Concerns about identity theft have made sellers wary about providing their social security numbers to buyers in real estate transactions. However, Internal Revenue Code 1445(b)(2) provides that in order for the buyer to be exempt from the withholding requirement, the seller must provide to the buyer “an affidavit by the transferor [seller] stating, under penalty of perjury, the transferors United States taxpayer identification number and that the transferor is not a foreign person.”
If no other exemption applies and the seller does not provide his or her social security number to the buyer, the buyer is obligated by Internal Revenue Code 1445(a) to withhold 10% of the purchase price.
The Code does not require that the seller give the buyer his or her social security number in order to sell the property, only to be exempt from withholding. Therefore, the seller could refuse to provide a social security number to the buyer and not be in violation of the Code or in breach of contract. However, the buyer would be obligated to withhold the 10%. Accordingly, if the seller wants to avoid withholding by the buyer, the seller will have to provide the buyer with a social security number.

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