Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Commissions

Feb 08, 2019

The IRS requires that any commissions, fees, prizes, and awards over $600 paid to an individual who is not an employee of the payee must be reported to the IRS.

This means that Listing Brokers who pay a commission to a Cooperating Broker, or a referral fee, over $600 must complete a Form 1099-MISC and give Copy B of the Form to the individual who received the money and file Copy A of the Form with the IRS.

The Listing Broker must comply with this filing requirement even when the Listing Broker does not pay the Cooperating Broker directly, such as when the cooperating commission is paid by the escrow agent.  This is because the funds constituting the cooperative commission are drawn from the Listing Broker’s portion of the commission and so the payment is technically made by the Listing Broker.

This requirement only applies to payments made to individuals, and not when payments are made to corporations. 

Listing Brokers should make it their practice to give a W-9 Form to every broker to whom he/she pays (or causes to be paid) a cooperative commission, whether the Cooperating Broker is an individual or corporation, and request that the Cooperating Broker fill it out and return it to the Listing Broker.  

The W-9 Form will contain the information for the Listing Broker to fill out the 1099-MISC Form that must be filed when the Cooperating Broker is an individual.  When the Cooperating Broker is a corporation, the Listing Broker should retain the W-9 Form for his/her records to demonstrate that he/she verified the corporate status of the Cooperating Broker.    

For further information about this process and your legal protection, please contact a certified public accountant.