Performers Tax

This page is currently under revision for changes to object codes effective July 01, 2021

See Performer Administrator FAQs Page for updated materials

Massachusetts Withholding from Visiting Lecturers, Performers and Others Receiving Related Service Payments

Individuals who earn income connected with Massachusetts for performances may be subject to withholding on that income at the current Massachusetts income tax rate. Performers in the Harvard setting include lectures, speakers at symposia, performers (including actors, actresses, directors, musicians and professional athletes) and others receiving related service payments. (See DEFINITIONS below for more details.)

This withholding requirement only applies where the individual or entity has received payments aggregating to more than $5,000 during the calendar year, from one or more University departments, for services that are subject to this tax. There are exceptions to the withholding requirements:

1. The lecturer / performer attests using the Harvard Attesation Form that they have submitted an application to the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (“DOR”) requesting either that:

(i) withholding be waived (Form PWH-WW) [Massachusetts residents and others may file this form] or

(ii) the amount subject to income tax withholding be reduced by related expenses (Form PWH-RW).

Each such form must be delivered by the lecturer /performer to the DOR at least ten business days prior to the starting date of the lecture, symposium, performance, event or other program. 

If either the waiver or reduction of withholding is granted by the DOR, the DOR will notify the University directly.
The University cannot adjust withholding based on the submission to the DOR of such an application by the lecturer or performer, but act only after receiving the document from the DOR showing DOR approval of the request. DOR approval is sent directly to the University.
2. Events outside Massachusetts or the United States. If the lecturer / performer is located outside of Massachusetts when the service is performed, use object code 8691. See Location of Activity for additional guidance.
Performance. An event in which a performer or performing entity receives compensation for personal services performed in, derived from, or connected with sources within Massachusetts by competing, demonstrating, exhibiting, entertaining or educating an audience, making a public appearance, or endorsing merchandise.
Performer. A performer may be (i) an athlete such as a wrestler, boxer, golfer, tennis player, sports team member or other athlete who is paid for competing, demonstrating, making a public appearance, or endorsing merchandise, as well as a person paid to further an athlete's performance or an athletic event performing services such as owner or leader of a performing entity; agent or manager of a performing entity or performer; referee, coach, or trainer; member of a production crew; or (ii) a paid entertainer or speaker, such as an actor, singer, musician, dancer, circus performer, comedian, celebrity, public speaker or lecturer, as well as any person paid to further an entertainer's or speaker's performance such as owner or leader of a performing entity; agent or manager of a performing entity or performer; or writer, director, coach, designer, or member of a sound, light, stage or production crew.