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Understanding and Filling Out Hawaii Tax Forms N-288 Series

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Understanding and Filling Out Hawaii Tax Forms N-288 Series

In Hawaii, when you purchase property from a non-resident, it’s generally required that you withhold 7.25% of the transaction amount to cover the state sales tax, which is typically the seller’s responsibility. As the buyer, you’ll need to complete Form N-288 to manage this aspect of the transaction. This form can be downloaded from the Hawaii Department of Taxation website. Remember, when you submit Form N-288, you should also include Form N-288A, a document that the seller needs to fill out. Accurate completion of these forms is essential to comply with Hawaii’s tax laws and regulations. In this article, we will provide an overview of each form in the N-288 series, including N-288, N-288A, N-288B, and N-288C, along with detailed instructions for completion.

What Are the N-288 Series Forms?

The N-288 series forms are used by individuals or entities involved in the disposition of real property in Hawaii. These forms are essential for reporting and paying any withholding tax due on the amounts realized from the sale or transfer of real property and associated rights by nonresident persons.

  • Form N-288: Utilized for withholding tax on dispositions by nonresident persons of Hawaii real property interests.
  • Form N-288A: A declaration of withholding on dispositions by nonresident persons of Hawaii real property interests.
  • Form N-288B: Used for the application of a certificate for exemption from the withholding tax.
  • Form N-288C: Pertains to the refund of withholding tax paid on dispositions by nonresident persons of Hawaii real property interests.

Who Needs to Fill Them Out?

Generally, these forms are required by nonresident sellers or transferors of real property and certain associated rights in Hawaii. 

Form N-288: Withholding Tax Form

Purpose: To calculate and report withholding tax due on the sale of Hawaii real property by a nonresident.

When to File: This form is typically filed after the completion of a real estate transaction involving a nonresident seller and must be submitted by the 20th day after the date of transfer.

Line-by-Line Guide:

  • Line 1: Seller/Transferor Information: Enter the name of the individual or entity purchasing the property.
  • Provide the complete address and either the Social Security Number or Federal Employer Identification Number.
  • Line 2: Property Description: Detail the property being acquired, including its tax map key number, which is a unique identifier for the property.
  • Line 3: Date of Transfer: Record the official date when the property was transferred from the seller to you, the buyer.
  • Line 4: Attachment of Form N-288A: Specify the number of Form N-288A documents you’re attaching. The seller completes this form.
  • Line 5: Transaction Amount: Indicate the total payment made for the property. If you’re paying in installments, list only the sum of the principal payments made during the year.
  • Line 6: Withholding Amount: State the total amount withheld from the transaction to cover the necessary state sales tax.

Don’t forget to sign and date the form. If you’re filling this out on behalf of a company or another entity, include your job title. If a paid preparer completes this form, they should print and sign their name, provide the date, and their identification number, and specify if they’re self-employed or the name of their firm.

Remember, accurate and thorough completion of each section is crucial to ensuring compliance with Hawaii’s tax laws. 

Form N-288A: Declaration of Withholding

  • Purpose: Form N-288A primary function is to declare the specifics of withholding tax on dispositions by nonresident persons of Hawaii real property interests. It accompanies Form N-288 to provide a detailed breakdown of the withholding tax for each nonresident involved in the property transfer.
  • When to File: Form N-288A should be prepared and filed concurrently with Form N-288. 
  • Filing Requirements and Details:
  • Prepare a Form N-288A for each nonresident transferor or seller subject to withholding. This means that if multiple nonresident individuals or entities are involved in the transfer of a single property, a separate form must be completed for each party.
  • In cases where property is transferred by both nonresident and resident persons jointly, the amount subject to withholding must be allocated based on each party’s capital contribution to the property. A taxpayer and spouse are typically considered to have contributed equally (50% each). The total amount allocated to nonresident transferors or sellers is what is subject to withholding.
  • After determining the amount subject to withholding, the withheld amount should be credited among the nonresident transferors or sellers as they mutually agree. If an agreement on the allocation of withheld taxes is reached, it must be requested that the withholding be credited accordingly by the 10th day after the date of transfer. If no agreement is reached, the withholding is divided evenly among the nonresident transferors or sellers.

Form N-288B: Application for Withholding Certificate 

  • Purpose: Form N-288B may reduce or eliminate the withholding tax typically required during property transfer. The form serves as a request for consideration based on the specific circumstances of the sale or transfer, potentially reducing the upfront financial burden on the nonresident seller.
  • When to File: Form N-288B should be filed either before or after the property transfer, but importantly, before the nonresident files their final tax return for that year. This timing ensures that any adjustments to withholding are accounted for in the tax return and that any reduced withholding is authorized before finalizing the tax obligations related to the sale.
  • Filing Requirements and Details:
  • By completing Form N-288B, you should provide detailed information about the property transaction, including the sale price and property description. Make sure that all sections of the form are filled out comprehensively to facilitate a smooth review process.
  • Supporting documentation must accompany the completed Form N-288B. This typically includes legal documents related to the property transaction, proof of nonresident status, and any other relevant financial information that substantiates the need for reduced or eliminated withholding.
  • Once the form and all pertinent documents are compiled, submit the package to the Hawaii Department of Taxation. Ensure that the submission is made before the nonresident’s tax return filing deadline for the year of the property transaction. 

Form N-288C: Application for Refund of Withholding 

  • Purpose: Form N-288C enables nonresident persons to apply for a tentative refund of withholding taxes on the disposition of Hawaii real property interests when the actual tax liability is less than the amount withheld. It serves as a rectification measure for overpayments, ensuring fair tax treatment for nonresidents by allowing them to reclaim excess withheld funds.
  • When to File: After filing the income tax return for the year in which the property was sold. It’s important to note that the application for a refund should be made promptly after the tax return is filed to expedite the refund process.
  • Filing Requirements and Details:
  • Before applying for a tentative refund, nonresident persons should calculate their actual tax liability to confirm that it is indeed less than what was withheld at the time of property disposition. This typically involves considering the total income, applicable deductions, and credits for the tax year in question.
  • To apply for a tentative refund, the nonresident must complete Form N-288C by providing all required information about the property transaction, the amount withheld, and the calculated actual tax liability.
  • Along with the completed Form N-288C, the applicant must attach supporting documentation. This usually includes a copy of the filed income tax return for the relevant year and any other documents that substantiate the claimed refund amount.
  • After completing the form and compiling the necessary documentation, the package should be submitted to the appropriate Hawaii tax authority. Applicants should keep copies of all submitted materials and track the progress of their refund application.

Need Help?

Filling out the N-288 series forms accurately is crucial for any nonresident involved in Hawaii real estate transactions. At DimovTax we can provide expert guidance and professional services for accurately completing and filing Hawaii’s N-288 series forms. Here’s how we can assist:

  • Our team offers insights into Hawaii’s real estate and tax regulations, ensuring you understand each form’s purpose and requirements.
  • We focus on accurate completion and timely submission of all forms, reducing the risk of errors and avoiding penalties.
  • We will answer your questions and provide continuous support throughout the filing process.

Contact us today for a stress-free and compliant handling of your Hawaii real estate taxation needs. 


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