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A form of tax withholding (at a rate of 28%) on income from stock sales, interest, dividends, or other types of payments reported on IRS Form 1099. Brokerage firms are required to make backup withholding on stock sales when the client has not completed and filed Form W-9 (for US tax residents) or Form W-8BEN (for nonresidents).
For details, including ways in which US citizens and nonresident aliens can recover backup withholding, see the FAQ on this topic.
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