What Is Nominee Interest?

Nominee interest is interest that a person collects on behalf of someone else. When a person receives nominee interest, they are responsible for either paying tax on that interest or passing the interest on to its rightful owner. If the person who receives the nominee interest opts to pass the money on to the other person, they must fill out and file the tax form 1099-INT.

This form alerts the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that the interest has changed hands. The nominee then adjusts their taxable income downward by the amount of the transferred interest, which they then report on Schedule B. In this way, the IRS will know that the person receiving the nominee interest is not responsible for paying taxes on that money, but that the other person is.

Key Takeaways

  • When a person tells the IRS that the income on an investment in their name actually belongs to another person, that income is called nominee interest.
  • In order to nominate someone else as the recipient of interest, taxpayers have to fill out form 1099-INT or 1099-OID and send it to the IRS.
  • The recipient will also receive a form 1099-INT or 1099-OID and file it with the IRS.

How Nominee Interest Works

There are times when you may receive a Form 1099 for interest in your name that actually belongs to someone else. In this case, the IRS considers you a nominee recipient. If you received interest as a nominee, you must give the actual owner a Form 1099-INT (unless the owner is your spouse) and file Form 1096 and Form 1099-INT with the IRS.

Both forms are available on the IRS website. 

Example of Nominee Interest

An instance of nominee interest may occur if two people who do not file their taxes jointly share an investment. For example, a sister and brother may inherit money from a parent and use it to open a savings account together.

Because the sister is listed first on the account, the bank reports to the IRS that she received the full amount of interest. Since she actually shared the interest with her brother, she must file form 1099-INT, so that the IRS will only hold her responsible for the portion of the interest she actually kept. Her brother will receive a copy of the 1099-INT indicating which portion of the interest he received and is responsible for paying tax on.

If the brother chooses not to accept any of the interest this year, the sister must report and pay the full amount of the taxes. This could occur if the brother decides he would rather that his sister have the extra income that year, or if he had another reason to avoid collecting that income.

Form 1099-INT

Form 1099-INT is the tax form that investors receive at the end of the year from any issuer of interest. A taxpayer will receive a different 1099-INT from each source of interest they receive. Interest is considered taxable, passive income in the U.S. tax code.

Form 1099-INT details the type of interest income and any related expenses that the investor has received during the tax year so that the taxpayer can file their taxes accordingly. The only exception to this is when investors have received less than $10 of interest in a tax year. Interest less than $10 does not need to be reported to the IRS.