Tax on US royalties

If you are a non-US author your royalties from your US book sales will be subject to a 30% withholding tax until or unless you complete the necessary paperwork to claim full or part exemption.

The amount of exemption you can claim depends on the tax treaty your country has with the US.  If you’re based in the UK the withholding rate is 0%, so you can claim full exemption if you wish. (In this case, you then declare the foreign income on your UK personal or company tax return and pay tax on it in the UK.)

You can check which countries have a tax treaty with the USA here. From a quick glance I can’t see a handy list of withholding rates in this document, so you’ll need to check with your own tax department to get the withholding rate for your country.

Key steps to claim reduced or no US withholding tax

In short these are:

  • Obtain a tax identification number – called an ITIN (Individual Tax Identification Number) for individuals or an EIN (Employer Identification Number) for businesses – including limited companies or sole traders outside the USA.
  • Complete and send a form W8-BEN, which includes your US tax ID, to each of your US distributors – they will then be able to pay your royalties in line with the exemption amount instead of automatically withholding 30% tax. (You can probably ask them to defer paying you any royalties until they have the form.)

Getting an individual tax ITIN takes many weeks, so make a start as soon as you can. Oddly it takes just half an hour to get an EIN if you’re a business. I’ve outlined both processes below. For info, I have an EIN as I self-publish through my limited company – and it really did only take me 30 minutest to get it!

How to get an ITIN if you’re publishing as an individual

This process requires you to take or send your passport to the American Embassy if you are British.  (I have an EIN so didn’t use this method. If you’re a limited company or operating as a self-employed sole trader business skip down to the next section.)

  • Request an original hand-signed letter from your US book distributor or publisher, addressed to the IRS, which states that you need an ITIN because you are going to receive royalties and wish to apply for a US withholding tax exemption or reduction. (Your distributor probably has a process for issuing these letters, and may make a small charge. But it can can take time: for example, Smashwords says that it can take them 3-6 weeks to snail mail the letter to you.)
  • If you’re based in the UK, take (or send special delivery) your completed W-7 form,  your distributor’s hand-signed letter, and your passport to the American Embassy in London.  They need to your passport as evidence that you are British and they need the hand-signed letter to prove that you are being paid by an American company. Copies won’t be accepted.
  • From what I have read, it seems that since summer of 2012 they now send your passport along with the other documents to Texas for processing, rather than taking a copy of your passport as they did previously! But see a further note on this below*.
  • It can take up to six weeks and sometimes longer to process your application – after which your documents are returned and you are notified from the US of your ITIN.
  • Now send your completed form W8-BEN to your US distributor/s in accordance with their instructions. Once they have this they can pay your royalties without applying the full 30% witholding tax.

* In the comments section of a blog I read after posting above, a UK author said that the US Embassy in London agreed to send her UK Photo ID Driving Licence away instead of her passport – having already been presented with the original passport and an original birth certificate.  Whether this is typical I am not sure – but it’s worth asking about I’d say!

Note: Reading around, it seems that some self-publishers decide the application process is more hassle than it’s worth until they get a measure of their US sales. For example, if you’re an individual based in the UK and pay 20% tax, by not doing anything you will lose out on 10% of your royalties – you then declare the income as ‘taxed at source’ on your tax return.

How to get an EIN if you’re publishing as a business

Bizarrely, it’s a lot simpler for non-US businesses than it is for individuals to get a US tax ID – in fact it just took me half an hour! Don’t be put off by the reference to ‘employer’ – if you are a director of your own company or a sole trader** you can still apply.

  • Read the notes on page 2 of the form – these confirm which questions you can miss off since you are only applying to get this EIN for tax withholding purposes.
  • Complete the form – you can fill the fields in online and then save and print the form. (See the ‘Tips’ section below for answering question 9a.)
  • Next call the IRS’s dedicated line for businesses that are located outside of the US: 1-267-941-1099 (not toll free). You need to have your completed form SS-4 beside you as they will ask you about your entries. (see the ‘Tips’ section below for how to avoid being asked to fax the form.) NB Since I got my EIN it has become harder to get through and there can be long waiting times so if in the UK try calling at 11am our time – apparently the offices there open at 6am Eastern time and the first hour is the quietest.
  • They then give you the number over the phone and say to expect it and relevant paperwork in the post in the next 2-3 weeks. And it does…
  • Download and complete form W-8BEN-E (PDF) – be sure to enter your EIN on it. Note: (10 April 2014)  It seems that a new version of this form was issued in late March 2014, albeit it is dated February 2014. In short it has been separated from the W-8BEN (which is now just for individuals).  Further update 10 May 2014 – please read Cazbah‘s comment dated 9 May below. It seems that this new form is not yet ready for use and you need to use the old form until July 2014 – *please read her explanation below*And yet a further update 12 September 2014 – a comment from Lorna Riley says she got her EIN today and the IRS told her that entities can continue to use the *old* W-8BEN form until the end of the year as they are still so confused by the new one! Scroll down to read her comment.  Another update 15 October 2014 – there have been a lot of questions on the Alliance of Independent Authors’ closed Facebook group, and in the CS community, relating to the new online CS tax interview form which doesn’t appear to allow a sole trader to enter their EIN. It seems to me that the CS form has inherited the confusion seen in the new IRS forms, described above. Various work arounds have been suggested from simply saying you are an individual from the outset and then inserting your local country’s tax ID number and no EIN, to entering the EIN into the space provided for the ITIN even though the format is not quite the same, to saying that you are a corporation even though you are a sole trader in which case the EIN option appears. (This last piece of advice was based on a conversation someone had with the IRS office here in London who told him that the IRS doesn’t disntinguish between sole traders and companies when using the term ‘corporation’.) I’ve not had to complete the CS online form so not come up against this issue myself, but I will try to contact the IRS here in London tomorrow to see if I can find an answer. If this hasn’t been updated it means that I’ve not yet managed to get through…. bear with me! But do look at the comments I refer to above if affected by any of this …  Further update 28 Oct 2014  I spoke to the IRS here in London finally re the CS questionnaire and the issue for sole traders having nowhere to enter their EIN. In short, the guy there said you should be providing your US tax ID to CS, not your UK one. How you give this info the IRS doesn’t really care – the guy sounded exasperated at CS! – so either: 1/ Say you are business and (where the question comes up about beneficial owner type say you are a corporation (since it won’t let you say you are an individual) and then enter your EIN. OR 2/ Say you are an individual and if the EIN option doesn’t appear just enter your EIN in the ITIN box and see if you can get that to work (I know that some say they have got this to work after a couple of goes.) It’s the US tax ID that CS should be keeping a record of just in case one day they are audited by the IRS and have to justify why they withheld tax. And the way that is done is by giving evidence of the IRS-issued tax numbers that their customers have given them.

    If you’ve already done another route and provided your UK tax number I’d probably not panic. He seemed to suggest that the likelihood of an audit happening in this way is fairly remote… but his point was that it would involve CS having to run report of tax IDs and any that don’t fit the EIN or ITIN format would stick out like a sore thumb and the IRS could potentially ask Amazon to pay the tax due on those accounts. But in many ways that sounds as if it would be CS’s problem!   *Please note that I am not a tax consultant and am simply providing this info in response to the many queries raised about it. I’ve also not had to complete the CS questionnaire as it came after my time.*


  • Send the completed form to your distributors in line with their instructions.

NB: non-US publishing companies cannot apply for an EIN online, so ignore any instructions you see on this as they are directed at US corporations.

Tips for when completing form SS-4 and calling the IRS

  • On form SS-4, at question 9a tick ‘Other’ and enter ‘Limited Company (UK)’ or ‘Self-employed Sole Trader UK’. The only other possible option at 9a would be to tick ‘corporation’ – which seems to refer to US incorporated companies. The woman at the IRS I spoke to agreed that my approach seemed the best answer.
  • When you call, make it clear that you are the owner/director of the business. I say this because when I first called, the woman told me I would need to fax the form while I was on the phone to her (impossible as I only have one phone line…).  At that point I had to come off the phone and had planned to call back on my mobile to enable me to fax whoever took the call (it’s a call centre type set-up), but then found it would cost me 72p per minute to do this! So I called from my landline again and the next woman I spoke to said she could do it over the phone without faxing her the form SS-4 because I was the owner of the business.
  • Have the date of incorporation of your company or the date you registered as self-employed to hand. Even though their page 2 instructions said I didn’t need to fill in that info they still asked me for this.

You can find general instructions for completing form SS-4 here.

(**To become a sole trader in the UK you need to register with HM Revenue & Customs as self-employed and fill out a Self Assessment tax return each year where you declare your income from your sole trader business. You pay Class 2 National Insurance if you’re self-employed – and Class 4 if your profits are above a certain level.)

Getting help: US tax offices based in Europe and China

You can find contact details for IRS offices in the UK, France, Germany or China here. I’ve not yet tried this out, but, according to the IRS website, “The IRS offices listed can answer your federal income tax questions, help with account and refund problems, and assist with the preparation of current and prior year tax returns.”  I will update this section once I have spoken to them. It’s Columbus day today, so they are closed!

You can read more about withholding tax on the IRS website here.

UK authors

If you’re a UK author and aren’t sure how to declare you income from books sales, check out my related post on paying UK Income Tax on book royalties

183 Responses to Tax on US royalties

  1. Sally says:

    Thanks for this post Karen – it helps a lot! I was honestly so put off by the process for an individual that I was prepared to skip it and put up with a double-taxation (on a book that wouldn’t be making much to begin with). But since I’m also the technical publisher, I’ll apply as a business.

  2. kareninglis says:

    My pleasure, Sally. Glad to help spare others unnecessary pain! It’s odd how much simpler it is if you’re a business…

    • Hi Karen, I have just completed the Tax Interview Form to register my books on Kindle and it was very easy to follow and well set out.
      It also went through and was accepted by Amazon immediately and I was able to print a copy. Only thing I still have to do is enter a Bank to which any payments can be made and when they get back to me with this info. I’ll advise you.
      The Tax Interview is something very new, but it can be found easily on the normal Kindle pages and also by clicking onto your account at top of the page and then moving down to find it. In the end you just click ‘send’ and off it goes.

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Karen and fellow self publishing authors
      I have recently (March) published my children’s book ‘Cell Wars’ by A.Miles on Amazon. I wasn’t sure whether I was going to bother with getting an EIN number but after my first two forms failed to reach Createspace I thought fate was trying to tell me something. So before I sent off another W-8BEN form (updated one from http://www.irs.gov – just put W-8BEN in search bar and it comes up) I thought I would try getting the magic EIN number. I have read quite a few articles on this and most of the information on Karen’s site and others is still relevant but there were some differences which I will go through here.

      I too phoned the number 001 267 941 1099 at 11 am our time. An automated machine picked up and went through the options to choose. You need option 1. (I had to listen to it a few times just to check). I then waited for about 5 mins. An American gentleman answered ( I had read all about strange accents and was a little concerned but all was straightforward, although I did feel he was very serious, so jokes are probably not the way to go!)

      I told him I was the owner of the business, writing books and selling on Amazon and needed an EIN to comply with IRS witholding regulations. First he asked if I had the SS 4 form in front of me and then we went through it. I spelt out my name and address as required by the first few questions. He asked me question 7b and I replied EIN and then he went to question 9a. At first he wanted to put down ‘Sole proprietor’ but I said (after reading Karen’s comments) that I thought ‘Other’ and ‘self employed sole trader UK’ would be more relevant. He agreed with this. Question 10 is ‘compliance with IRS witholding regulations’. I thought this was it but he then asked me question 13 about employes. I told him I didn’t have any. He then asked me qu 17 (type of product) I said ‘Books’ and he added ‘royalties’ and finally qu 18 ‘No. Not had EIN number before’.

      He then told me to hold the line and then came back with my magic EIN number. All in all 20 minutes on the phone and not as scary as I thought it would be!

      I have also filled in the tax interview online form for Kindle (KDP) and that was very straightforward except make sure you put your name exactly as you gave it to the IRS. I put in a middle initial on the online form (as there was a box for it) and then couldn’t work out why my form wouldn’t work when I pressed submit.

      Anyway I hope this helps and good luck!

      • kareninglis says:

        Thanks for this, Amanda – really useful to have a recent update and the info on the Kindle form info too. I’ve not seen that as it was introduced after I got my EIN – I should look it out… Mind you, since you got your EIN number they have updated the W-8BEN form further and created a separate one for businesses (from end of March). I’ve left a note about that in the blog post in red.

  3. David says:

    Thank you so much for writing this. I was really struggling to get my head around how to fill in the ITIN application form with my UK limited company information! This has really helped me.

  4. kareninglis says:

    Glad you found it of use!

  5. David says:

    Got my EIN – yay!
    I also got a letter from the IRS saying I’d have to complete and return form 1065 by April 15th, 2013. Did you have to do that, too?

  6. kareninglis says:

    Hi David – I don’t recall that – but I do remember getting something initially that made me double check if I had to send something in and I therefore asked my accountant – plus faxed the US embassy in London – I’ll check out the response over the next few days and leave another note…. Karen

  7. help100jen says:

    That’s really informative – thank you!
    I want to give all the proceeds from my book to charity. The proceeds from US sales on Kindle are already set up to go to a charity in the States to avoid bank charges with cheques in dollars etc. Can I do the same with sales on CreateSpace? Is there a facility for the charity to get the 30% tax back, the way gift aid works in the States?

    • kareninglis says:

      Hello there – I’m afraid that I have no idea. However, CreateSpace is really helpful – if you email their contact team they generally reply within a business day. Otherwise why not try asking in the CreateSpace Community Forum. You’ll find a link to it on my page about Print on demand. Everyone there is really helpful too.

      Best of luck! Karen

  8. Jen says:

    So helpful, many thanks!!

  9. You’ve just saved me a load of heartache here! I was puzzling about how I was going to fill in the ITIN as my royalties are paid to my company, with the further complication that I live in Italy. But this is a huge help, and it sounds so much simpler! thanks for taking the time and trouble to explain it so well. Would you be interested in either doing a guest blog for my indie author readers on the subject?

    • kareninglis says:

      Hi Rachel

      So glad you found it helpful! I remember at the time what a pain it was trying to find out how to do this and I discovered this method by reading the small print on the IRS website as I recall…. Once I made the call I coudn’t believe how quick it was to do! I’d be very happy to do a guest post on it… see my contact details on the contact page to get in touch….. I’m busy in the day job during the week so will be more likely to reply at the weekend…. I trust that you’re having better weather over in Italy than we are here!

  10. Hi Karen – I tried emailing you as you suggested, but perhaps it didn’t get through (or perhaps you are on holiday?). The weather here is so hot it’s unbearable, to be honest. But I would still LOVE a guest post from you, if you have the time. My email is rachel@rachel-abbott.com, and I’d love to hear from you.

  11. Elle Aycart says:

    Hi Karen,
    Thanks for this post. I have a problem I hope you could help me with (or point me into the right direction); according to the tax treaty between my country (Spain) and the US, I should pay 10% taxes to the US. After I got an ITIN and filed the proper papers with my publishers, they stopped withholding the 30% they had been withholding. At the moment, they aren’t withholding any money from my checks, so my question is; how do I pay this 10% if I’m not a US resident and I don’t have a US bank account? Thank you very much for your time. Elena

    • Nick Parkes says:

      There’s a useful article on the Amazon website Elle at: https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help?topicId=A1VDYJ32T5D3U4
      It would appear that your publishers should still be withholding US tax from your royalties but, because there is a tax treaty between Spain and the US, they should be withholding tax at the reduced rate specified by the treaty.
      You may be able to claim a refund of US tax withheld but, if not, the tax treaty will allow you to set the US tax withheld against your liability to Spanish tax.
      I think you will have to file a US tax return to claim a refund or pay any tax due for periods before you had your ITIN or when the withholding tax has been dealt with incorrectly.

    • Phoenix says:

      I know this is an old post but thought I’d post it in case it helps others. This site gives the steps to set up a virtual US bank account: http://americanbenefit.weebly.com/get-paid-into-a-us-account.html

      • kareninglis says:

        Thanks for this – I’m not sure it’s relevant to this particular post but will leave it here just in case it is. Amazon will pay into your account in your own country so I’m not sure why you might need a virtual account for the US? However there may be something I’ve not thought of! Beware the fees with this though if deciding to use it…

  12. kareninglis says:

    Hi Elle – I am afraid that I don’t know the answer to this…! But if you call the US Embassy in Spain and ask to speak to a tax adviser they may be able to tell you? (Or I assume that any Spanish accountant would know?). Or if you are using a publisher could they find out for you? Sorry I can’t be of more help…. I did just have a quick look at the tax treaty tables but couldn’t really follow what they were telling me!

    Good luck!

    Karen

  13. I am soon publishing my first poetry collection and I had no clue about how to do this. Happily, you have explained it all wonderfully. Glad I am a member of Linked In as I saw this link to this excellent feature about Tax on US Royalties. Many thanks again.

  14. kareninglis says:

    Glad to be of help, Cathy. I love your hub page by the way (not that I’m sure what a hub page is!) Karen

  15. Karl says:

    Karen,

    Will you have to file a return to the US IRS? Even if it’s a no tax requirement thay may still want one?
    Thanks. Karl.

  16. kareninglis says:

    Hi Karl – no you don’t. I had this confirmed to me on the phone when I asked at the time I got my EIN and have just seen my ‘note to self’ that confirms this in the relevant file. Subsequently – around the end of the tax year (US or UK, I can’t remember which…) – I received a one-page form/notification from the IRS which confirmed my US tax details but said that no tax return was expected. (I just tried to hunt that out to see if there was/is a form number, but can’t lay my hands on it at the moment! My filing system is clearly not as efficient as I had thought it was!)
    If you use the telephone route to get your EIN suggest you ask for your peace of mind. I had read somewhere – or had seen someone ask about it – which is why I asked.

    I hope this helps, but worth checking direct too! Karen

    • Karl says:

      Thanks for the reply. I got my EIN by phone to the US yesterday. I was going to head, on foot, for the US embassy in London but rang the IRS office there and all i got was recorded messages. A waste of time. I glad I got your webpage.

      Your advice on filling in the SS-4 form beforehand was a good idea, as the guy on the phone was looking at the boxes yesterday and I could follow it as I wrote out the form beforehand. I nearly made a mistake on Option 10 of the SS-4. It should just this – “Compliance with IRS withholding regulations”. I first ticked the option – “Starting a new Business” which NOT correct.

      The W8-BEN form advice is a great help too.

      For a UK Limited Company you need an EIN.

      To get a EIN number from the IRS in the USA Phone: 001267 9411099 or 001267 99411329.

      Hope this helps other too.

  17. kareninglis says:

    Glad it helped, Karl! K

  18. Dan Jacobs says:

    I first applied for my ITIN in December 2010, and after 4 months it was rejected with no reason given. I applied again and had the same result. In January 2012 I sent my passport special delivery to the American Embassy in London who then sent a letter back saying they have authenticated it and passed it to the IRS is Texas, and that I’d have to wait 12 weeks for the ITIN, this was 23rd May. It’s now 13th October, and nearly two years after originally sending everything off, I’m still waiting for the ITIN. I’ve phoned the AE in London a few times and have been put on hold for well over an hour each time, nobody even comes to the phone to say anything, no mention of where I am in the massive cue.
    I cannot see a way of emailing either the IRS in America or the Embassy in London, writing doesn’t get a reply in five months, and phoning them is useless as I’m not a business, so an EIN isn’t the correct thing to ask for.

    Any advice?
    Dan

    • kareninglis says:

      Hi Dan – your experience sounds awful. I’m afraid I can’t advise as I went the EIN route. I read the other day that they are now changing the system and sending off passports to the States – which I find incredible. Is that what has happened in your case? I think if I were you I’d go to the US Embassy in person if necessary if they had my passport for so long (but check days/times and get there ridiculously early!). If they don’t have your passport now or if you get it back and still no ITIN one thought is if you register as self-employed and then apply for an EIN – I suggest this as have heard that EINs are also available for sole traders and it’s something I’ve been meaning to check out. Your note here has reminded me on this. I will call the US IRS this week and ask specifically about this as it was my impression from their forms that you needed to be a limited company, but that may not be right. The only thing about registering as self-employed here in the UK is that you will then need to pay Class 2 National Insurance and complete a Self Assessment tax return each year – which may be more hassle than it’s worth. I guess it depends what level of royalties you are getting. I’ll post an update on the sole trader thing in the next week or so but if anyone reading is a sole trader and knows the answer, please speak up. K

      • Lisa Mills says:

        Brilliant advice, Karen, many thanks.
        I am handling this process for my husband, a self-employed writer. Went through hours of being on hold to US Embassy and the US helpline whilst pursuing the ITIN route. Finally got through to the US Embassy in London on Monday (after it rang and rang and rang…) and was given very specific instructions on how to apply for the ITIN. Husband has dual citizenship, so we could easily send his spare passport, but I was also enquiring on behalf of an artist with only one passport, and the Embassy informed me that as long as the passport is an official copy with an APOSTILLE (e.g., not an ordinary notarised copy), it would be accepted by the IRS.
        After all this malarkey, we have discovered the EIN route, and will put it to the test tomorrow, when my husband can call the number as soon as the line opens. If that works, we’ll be overjoyed, because it should mean he gets paid by the publisher much sooner than we thought (about 3 months sooner). And the artist will save the time and money involved in getting an apostille.
        Thanks again!
        Lisa

      • kareninglis says:

        Good luck with it, Lisa. And remember if your husband goes the Sole Trader route to register as self-employed with HMRC. There’s more info on that in my other post http://kareninglis.wordpress.com/paying-uk-income-tax-on-book-royalties-uk-authors (“Paying UK Income Tax on book royalties – UK authors”)

  19. Sue says:

    Karen, thank you so much for this. I’ve been looking for the last couple of hours for clear information about getting a US tax ID etc (having read your blog, I need a EIN). I feel so relieved to have found what I was looking for here. Thanks also to Karl for the contact info – very useful.

  20. Raj Sidhu says:

    What about individuals. I am not a business owner but want to publish ebooks on Amazon under my own name. Will I need to apply for an EIN?

    • kareninglis says:

      Hi Raj, Sorry I have taken so long to reply on this. In theory if you are publishing to earn a profit then I think that under HMRC tax rules you are effectively setting up a sole trader (self-employed) and should register with them as that. You can do that by phone. But it does mean that you have to complete a tax return each year and pay Class 2 National Insurance (and Class 4 NI if your profits exceed a certain amount). Why not call the HMRC self employed helpline and ask them at what point you would need to register? To my mind it would only make sense to do this once you know you are making an income – so if you don’t have a tax number to start with it may not matter…. I’m a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors, as you will see from the links at the top of this page. One of the authors there made this comment recently on our closed Facebook page (and this seems to back up what I have just said – so just ‘pick your moment seems’ the best advice!):


      HMRC told me that even when I was employed, because I was writing and earning I should have registered as self-employed and paid a self employed NIC. They didn’t make a big fuss about it because the earnings were small but they were quite clear!

      I hope this helps and apologies again for the late reply,

      Karen

  21. Paul Smith says:

    I’m just on the verge of self-publishing my first book (though I’ve been a writer for a while). Though the process looks ever more and more daunting as I go into it in more detail, I’m also finding that there’s a real sense of community out there, with people like yourself who offer help and guidance to poor, clueless newcomers like myself.

    Thank you!

    • kareninglis says:

      No problem, Paul. And do check out the Alliance of Independent Authors – see the link at the top of the page. They didn’t exist when I started my journey but are well worth joining for the community and have a great closed FB page where authors chat through issues they are having. Karen

  22. Chris Redman says:

    Karen, I have a publisher for an app on Apple’s App Store. This was brilliant advice for me and I struggled to find such a simple yet thorough explanation. The publisher insisted I needed an ITIN but, operating as a limited company, I actually needed the EIN and got it within 30 minutes. I just wanted to say thanks for the article.

  23. Hi Karen, quick question, regarding whether it is better for me to get an EIN or an ITIN. I own my own company too. I spoke to my accountant yesterday and he said have Amazon put the money in my personal account and then declare it on a self assessment at the end of the year (reason being I am contracting at the moment, if I get a permanent job then I’d probably close the company).

    I wonder then whether I should apply for an EIN or an ITIN?

    On the SS4 application for an EIN it says ‘For use by… certain individuals’, I take it that would include company directors. Ultimately the US IRS or Amazon don’t care whether it goes into my business account or my personal account, they just need a number and don’t care how I declare it back in the UK.

    Getting an EIN seems a lot more straight forward than an ITIN, I just want to get on and put my book up and not wait eight weeks for all this…

    Any advice greatly appreciated.

    Thanks

    Farhan
    (London)

    • kareninglis says:

      Hi Farhan

      I am not a tax adviser but as far as I understand it if you have a book that you have written that will generate royalties for you (hopefully!) (alongside your paid permanent job should you get that) then you are technically self-employed as an author/publisher for that royalties element of your work and so would / could still use an EIN – and would need to register as self employed with HMRC. (You can be employed and self-employed at the same time). Take a look at my related post on declaring tax on UK royalty income if you are a UK author – there’s a link to it at the end of my article here or you will see it in the main navigation area. Your accountant will know all of this though!) I can’t say whether it’s is more cost effective to run your book through a limited company or via self-employment though! Your accountant would need to talk you through that! Either way EIN feels the right choice I would say :-)

  24. evahudson says:

    Hi Karen
    Just got off the phone to the nice lady at the IRS. Thanks so much for explaining how to get an EIN. Quick question: do I have to wait for the paperwork to arrive from the IRS before I complete and post my W8-BEN to Amazon? As I’ve already got my EIN, I’m thinking I could send it off straightaway. What did you do? (if you can remember – must have been a while ago now!)
    Thanks again
    Eva

  25. kareninglis says:

    Hi Eva – congratulations on getting your EIN! I remember the feeling of achievement when I got mine! No you don’t need to wait for any paperwork before sending off your EIN. However one thing to be aware of when you complete the W8-BEN, if you have applied as a sole trader (not a company) only tick boxes 9a and 9b at Part II. Someone in the Alliance of Independent Authors reported this week that Amazon rejected their W8-BEN because they had accidentally also ticked box 9c when they are not a company. When I look back at my W8-BEN I see that I did tick box 9c, but I applied as a limited company. However (not wishing to confuse matters….) some time later I received a reply to an earlier query I had sent the US Embassy here in the UK about form filling and they sent me back a mock filled-in W8-BEN on which they had shown me entered as a corporation but had still not ticked 9c in part II. However I think that was a mistake on their part – I’ve just done a quick Google and all the advice I have found suggests that if you are a company you should tick box 9c, which is what I did. ( If you are applying as a company you might want to find out the firm answer to this question before you post your form… perhaps by calling the US embassy here if you can get through. I will try to do so myself next week and will update this blog, but not sure how easy it will be to get through….!) If you are in the UK then at question 10 you can enter “12″ next to Article and “0″ in the next space which refers to the withholding rate of tax. Next to ‘type of income’ you can enter ‘Royalties’. All of this info is on the sample sent to me by the US Embassy. I left question 10 blank but have seen advice elsewhere that suggests that you can enter next to q 10 (Explain the reasons…) as follows: “Beneficial Owner is a resident of the United Kingdom.” (NB don’t abbreviate to UK.) Hope this helps..

    • evahudson says:

      Thank you for such a comprehensive (and swift) reply. Much appreciated. I’ll complete section 10 as you suggest. I am a sole trader, so I presume I just tick (a) and (b) – the examples on the Amazon help page is a tad confusing!

      I would never have gone the easy EIN route if it hadn’t been for your fabulous advice – so thanks again.

  26. Hi Karen,
    Thank you so much for the advice. I found the process applying as a sole trader really straightforward – but only because I followed your advice step by step – it was excellent.

    I do have a question now though.
    I’ve just incorporated my business, do I need to reapply for a new EIN and send off a new W8-BEN form or should I just be contacting someone to just change my details?
    Thanks again,
    Darren
    (Lancaster, UK)

  27. kareninglis says:

    Hi Darren – hmm – not sure to be honest. My instinct is if the payments you get from royalties are going to be made out to a different name than before then you will need to. But if your company name is basically the same as your sole trader name (or your company is ‘trading as’ in the same name as before minus the word Limited) then it’s probably not worth the hassle of re-applying as the IRS will send the same confirmation details once a year about tax not having been deducted as before…? I suppose you could try calling the IRS number to ask them – they may be able to change to the company name? (Though I understand there’s quite a long waiting time these days…) In short not sure! Sorry I can’t be of more help! You could also try calling the US embassy helpline here in the uk….

  28. Hi – sorry to butt in here, but I would have thought that as a limited company you will have a different tax code than if you are a sole trader. Won’t that make a difference? I could be completely wrong, but I think the method of taxation is quite different. In which case, I would think you would have to reapply. But it is just a guess – don’t take my word for it.

    Rachel

    • kareninglis says:

      Thanks, Rachel

      Absolutely right that in the uk you will have a different tax code. Buy I’ve not seen this quoted on the

      Sent from my iPhone

      • Thanks Karen and Rachel,

        The new trading name is very different to mine. It looks like I might need to reapply, but I’ll contact Amazon kdp and see if they have any ideas, then I’ll see what the IRS have to say,

        Thanks Again,
        Darren

  29. kareninglis says:

    Sorry – that reply got cut off – I was going to say that you don’t supply your tax code to the IRS, just the name of your business – and if they are same I wondered if in practice it would make any material difference from the IRS’s perspective – b/c the form they send at the end of the tax year simply confirms that no tax was deducted from your business. But Darren it sounds as if you need to re-apply. To be honest I don’t think KDP will be able to advise you – they will only refer you to the IRS. You may have luck calling the US embassy number here in the UK – cheaper than calling the USA? Good luck!

    • Thanks Karen. Re-applying sounds the easiest way to go.

    • Hi Karen,
      I’ve reapplied and got my EIN number – phew.

      My next point of confusion is the W-8BEN form. I now have a limited company in the UK but I’m not sure if I should be ticking corporation or individual in Pt1 #3.
      I’m unsure of the definitions of the terms in this case.

      In part II #9 you suggest ticking a b and c in a comment earlier, is this still the case?

      Thanks,
      Darren

  30. Incomica says:

    Hello Kareninglis, I live in Dominican Republic and I almost sure that there is no tax teatry between my country and USA. What happen in that case? Thanks a lot in avance.

    • kareninglis says:

      Hi,

      I’m pretty sure that if there is no tax treaty then the USA will deduct 30% witholding tax which you won’t be able to reclaim. But the quickest way to check is for you to call the tax office (or the American embassy) in your country – or ask an accountant if you know one! Sorry I can’t be of more help, but do check as I may have this wrong.

      • Incomica says:

        CreateSpace has sent me an email where they say:

        «You will have to be complete the W-7 and file a W-8 BEN with us in order to avoid the international tax on your royalties.»

        So it seems the form W-8 BEN is the key and it guarantees no taxes on my royalties, independent if there is a tax treaty or not…

        Thanks for your help.

  31. kareninglis says:

    Hi Darren – really sorry I missed replying to this…. On my form I ticked ‘corporation’ and then ‘a’ (and inserted ‘United Kingdom’ in the gap), b and c -

    HOWEVER, after I had sent mine off, the US Embassy (which was replying to a query I had sent them by fax) did fax me back a dummy filled out where they had ticked ‘corporation’ and then just ticked ‘a’ and ‘b’ – and not ‘c’. However I only received that after submitting mine with all three ticked. So I think you could probably do either!

  32. Rolf says:

    Using the helpful info here, I rang the IRS just now and got an EIN for my UK sole trader in only a few minutes. (That’s not counting a number of we’re-too-busy-goodbye automated messages, then more than a half-hour wait once I managed to get into the queue – but by the standards of large government agencies that’s wonderfully efficient.) Many thanks!

    • kareninglis says:

      Glad it worked for you, Rolf! The queuing is a bother but one worth putting up with I guess…! It wasn’t so long when I did mine as I think far fewer people knew about this method! Karen

  33. Hi, I am presently trying to load my first book on to Kindle. Everything went just fine until I tried to complete the banking details. I live in South Africa and our banks us a SWIFT code of 11 letters, so the system rejected this and said I could only enter numbers. Then I found that I needed to complete a W-BBEN certificate, but I can only download the ‘example copy’ and not a blank copy to fill in. Amazon are sending me in cirles over this and I’m not getting anywhere.
    Is there any way that you can help me with this please?
    Presently I’d rather pay a higher witholding tax rate than deal with the South African Revenue Service, which is corrupt to the core. -We recently had a huge debacle when we tried to get a tax clearance, even though they owed us money. Between us my husband and I spent days standing in queues there, simply being pushed from pillar to post. This is why we would prefer to keep away from any dealings with SA Gov. Dept. and rather pay the higher witholding rate to the US.
    This is probably hard to understand, but believe me it is easer this way.
    I loaded a novel onto Kobo recently using the SA SWIFT code from my bank and had no trouble at all, but I’d also like to load some Kindle Single stories onto Kindle, so this is why I’m trying to get through the Amazon paper trail.
    Please if you know how i CAN OBTAIN A BLANK W-BBEN CERTIFICATE, please advise me.
    Thank you,
    Joy Bassetti Kruger
    (My Kobo novel is called – Get Behind Me Shadow).

  34. kareninglis says:

    Hi Joy
    There are two links higher up the page to a blank certificate – see the sixth bullet point under each of the main sections. The link text says “Download and complete form W8-BEN (PDF)” The form is dated 2006 but it’s still up to date (or at least it was when I last checked a couple of months ago….ie it’s the right one.

    Good luck with the rest of it! I’m afraid I can’t help with the question of bank numbers!

    Karen

  35. Thank you for this, very helpful! Living in Germany I’m going to have to fight with the tax forms they need in Texas soon, too. =)

  36. Hello Karen,

    What a great and informative post. When I was in publishing stages I was very confused to begin with and about to go the the AE in London to get help with an ITIN when I came across your article.

    I am still employed but also a sole trader (started my business) and it seems I can spare myself the hassle to go to the AE. (Getting through by phone, if only for advice, is almost impossible.)
    I am calling the IRS international to get an EIN instead! Which is fantastic.

    I am new to all this, my eBook has just been published via booktango. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for you help, your article is written so well, believe me, I am not good when it comes to tax forms. You helped me understand it a lot better!

    Many thanks again,

    My best wishes,
    Sandra Seidel
    (“Missing you: finding your lost one in the U.K”)

    • kareninglis says:

      Hi Sandra

      I’m glad it helped. Good luck getting your EIN! I read a tip the other day that they open at 7am EST, so the best time to phone from the UK is at just after midday. That way you’ll have a shorter wait on the line (as more people have found out about the phone method I think the wait can be longer if you call later in the day…)

      Best wishes,

      Karen

  37. Hi Karen,

    many thanks for your tip, you were right! I actually got through just after midday – very quickly!

    Unfortunately after 25 minutes on the phone (I was out and about and called from my mobile, they experienced difficulties with their system) I got cut off!
    But called back again earlier on, after 25 minutes waiting it took me less than 10 minutes to get my EIN. At last. : )

    Many thanks again!

    Best wishes
    Sandra

    (Auturgy Investigations)

  38. I live in South Africa and I’ve filled in and posted the tax form to Amazon, but its been almost 3 weeks now and I’ve heard nothing from them. What do you suggest I do now?
    Joy

  39. kareninglis says:

    Hi Joy

    Why not contact customer services at Amazon via CreateSpace or KDP (depending on whether you are selling in print and/or ebook) using the Contact us’ buttons within the dashboard and ask if they can see whether the tax status has changed?

    I don’t exactly recall whether I received a letter or not – but from a quick look in my file I can’t see one. I think it was more a matter of finding that my royalties did not have tax deducted from them once I started making sales. (I got my EIN right at the start – therefore wasn’t due a refund because I had not yet made any sales.) You could also ask on the CreateSpace or KDP forums how long it took. If you’ve not made any sales yet it may be that the only way you will find out (unless you contact them as I have suggested) is when you see your first sales report and whether tax has been deducted or not.

    Good luck either way. If anyone else reading this knows whether they send an acknowledgement please do leave a note.

    K

  40. Thanks for all your help. In the end because I could not get anyone to respond to my questions, I simply tried to upload my 2 draft books in Kindle to ‘Publish’ -and it worked. There were no problems and all I had to do was tick a few boxed and set the price.
    So I guess my tax information is now on record, as previously when I tried this tactic it did not work. -Gosh one would actually hope for some kind of response from Amazon to say the book could now be uploaded, but then maybe because it is a do-it-yourself site, this includes checking up yourself to see if your tax status has been cleared.
    Best wishes,
    Joy

  41. kareninglis says:

    As far as I know, you don’t have to have sent in the tax form in order to publish – it’s just that if you don’t send it you will find that they do deduct tax. (Some authors choose not to bother and just take the tax cut…). The moment of truth will be when you get your first sales report. If you see that they have taken off tax then it means they have not received your form – at which point I would contact them. But fingers crossed they will have it by now… Best wishes. Karen

  42. Thank you for this advice, I’ll look into it and find out what is going on.
    Best regards,
    Joy

  43. Jai Singh says:

    Hi Karen,
    I am from India, I would require my passport within 60 days from the day I write to you. If I send my passport to American Embassy for ITIN it will be returned within 60 days. However, there can be uncalled-for delays.

    So how do I go about towards completing the taxi information requirement at KDP?

    I appreciate you willingness to guide people through your website and I hope it would be helpful to many like myself.

    • kareninglis says:

      Hi Jai

      I can only speak for the process here in the UK I’m afraid when it comes to getting an ITIN – and you will see that I’m not very familiar with that side of things as I have an EIN!

      In terms of any waiting period, you can still publish through KDP before you get a tax number but they will deduct any withholding tax due on US sales you make until you send it to them.

      Here in the UK I think it’s simpler to register as self-employed for any writing purposes and then apply by phone to the USA for an EIN, which is much quicker. It may be worth checking whether there is an equivalent tax status for writers in India – ie where you count it as a business activity.

      I hope this helps.

      Karen

      • Jai Singh says:

        Hi Karen,
        Thanks for the reply, there is no equivalent of EIN in India as per my search on the internet. We have PAN (permanent account number) but that doesn’t fit the bill for IRS.

        Anyway I have submitted my piece of work to KDP, when I will have my passport available for more than 60 days, I will apply for ITIN.

      • kareninglis says:

        Hi Jai

        You don’t have to give the IRS any tax number from your country. But you do have to confirm that you are operating as a sole trader business or company. If you are saying there is no tax status for sole trader businesses (as opposed to individuals) in India then I guess the ITIN is your only route. Why not check with some other Indian authors though? Good luck! Karen

  44. Jai Singh says:

    By the way you can create a link to any of your website on “Karen Inglis” at the top right side of the page – ‘practical tips from Karen Inglis’

    Hope, my suggestion was useful.

    Warm Regards.

  45. Jill says:

    Having read your excellent article on the key steps to claim reduced or no US tax withholding, it seems that getting an EIN is far easier than an ITIN. I have recently registered with HMRC as a self-employed sole-trader. Could I apply for an EIN number rather than ITIN? (Although I’m slightly alarmed at the thought of having to phone a call centre in America…)

    • kareninglis says:

      Hi Jill

      Yes – follow the steps above – and call them at around midday our time as that is 7am their time when they open and you may have to hold for less time.

      Good luck!

      Karen

      • Jill says:

        Hi Karen,
        I have a couple of follow-up questions regarding this. I am due to visit the USA in December – would it be cheaper/easier to call them from there? (Could be, though, that hotel rates are no cheaper than a call from the UK…?!) Also, looking at your excellent instructions above, I wondered if the part where you say ” When you call, make it clear that you are the owner/director of the business” could lead me into difficulties, since I am a sole-trader (not a director of a Limited Company) seeking an EIN not an ITIN.

        Best regards, Jill

  46. Jai Singh says:

    Hi Karen,
    Thanks for the ‘Luck’, your time and the information. I will check out with the Indian authors as per your advice.

    Warm Regards.

  47. Tapani says:

    Just found this—and saved myself a lot of headache and time wasted. Thank you very much indeed!

  48. Tapani says:

    One piece of advice: it’s worth calling early in the morning US time! They open at 6am, which is 11am UK time. Calling later in the day can take a very long time indeed: I spent three sessions of over 1 hour each trying to get through. When I called at 11, it took 2 minutes. Apparently, they get only a couple of calls between 6 and 7.

  49. M. E. Durgun says:

    Hi Karen,

    Thank you very much. Your comments are very helpful.

    I have a limited company, and I plan to get an EIN number for that company (not as a sole trader). The question is if I use that EIN number, can I use my personal account to transfer money from Createspace? Or must I provide the company account, which creates extra troubles for me?

    Regards,

    • kareninglis says:

      Hi – I think you need to use your company account as the payment will be made out in their name (it will match the company name on the IRS tax forms you completed I am pretty sure?) It is all done electronically so there is no hassle. To be honest I’m unsure why you would want to register as a business and then get the royalties paid elsewhere! But you could get them paid to your personal account if you have registered as a sole trader rather than a limited company. If a sole trader you would need to notify HMRC – see my other tax post about this. Good luck!

      • M. E. Durgun says:

        Thank you Karen; it seems that you are becoming an expert. May be you publish an ebook on this subject one day . :)

        You are right that if I use my personal name, things would be much easier. However, in addition to CreateSpace, I plan to use LightningSource.com, which has some advantages, with same the ISBN, EIN, etc. So I thought LS may require “a company” as a must, and I wrote them to make things clear.

        A very helpful “Sales Representative” replied:
        “I can confirm that to setup a US Lightning Source account, you cannot use an EIN if you are a sole proprietorship – a US social security number is required. So if you have an EIN for a corporation, you would need to use that.”

        (PS: If you are in UK, you can directly use LS UK)

        Regards,

  50. kareninglis says:

    Hi there – I may publish a book on self-publishing at some stage. (In fact I recently turned down a commission from a major UK publishing house to do just that :-).) Sorry I thought you were based in the UK but it sounds as if not. For info I use CreateSpace in the USA and Lightening Source UK here in the UK – and my books have the same ISBN for both. In addition I use my limited company’s EIN for both. However Lightening Source UK would also have accepted me as a sole trader (with an EIN) if that had been my business set. I double checked that with them at one point because something I had read made me believe that you had to be a limited company to use them.

  51. Celia says:

    Thank you so much! Really appreciate this helpful information. Thanks to you – just got my EIN number!

  52. kareninglis says:

    Congrats, Celia! Glad to be of help :-)

  53. Hi Karen,

    I just wanted to thank you for this brilliant page of advice. It’s people like you, sharing things like this, that make me love the power of the internet!

    I’m a UK artist but selling work via Saatchi Online in the US, and their instructions were not helpful at all. Not sure why they can’t make it clear that if you’re a Sole Trader in the UK you require an EIN not an ITIN.

    Thanks to you I just called the IRS and am now in possession of my EIN!

    Best wishes,

    Sarah-Jane Muskett

    http://www.sarahjanemuskett.co.uk

  54. Will Evans says:

    Thanks Karen – thanks to your instructions that was a breeze.

    They did ask incorporation date and an early call (11 am UK time) went straight through.

  55. Pete Farmer says:

    Just followed this guide for an EIN…. was done in 20 minutes. Painless. HMRC could learn a lot.

    • Pete Farmer says:

      P.S Thank you so much for the guide, you’re a star!

      • kareninglis says:

        My pleasure, Pete! Really glad it worked. BTW if you have friends with iPads and little ones please do share the link to my app! It’s early marketing days and every little helps! :-) Otherwise the books are great as Christmas gifts for slightly older children. I don’t normally promote my books in my posts here but seeing as it’s Black Friday…. why not? ;-)

  56. Michael Le Houx says:

    Hi Karen, thank you very much for taking the time to post all of this information. I rang this morning and obtained my EIN just as you described. Best regards. Michael

  57. Filippo says:

    Thanks a lot for your explanations. It’s been very useful to me.

  58. kareninglis says:

    My pleasure. I hope it helped.

  59. jacobrayne says:

    Hi, Karen. I just wanted to say thank you for this post. I phoned the IRS yesterday (missed the part about calling at 11AM, but nevermind!) and after a long wait on hold had my EIN after a ten minute discussion with a very helpful advisor. This post has been a godsend and I am deeply grateful to you. Thanks again :-)

  60. Phil Cox says:

    Hi Karen

    Great post, thank you. I am struggling with one very simple thing around applying for an ITIN, it concerns getting my passport back from Texas. From what I have read, I cannot see that the IRS will not post my passport back to the UK, if fact, it clearly says that it will return it the address on the form but I can’t quite believe they will foot the bill for the international postage?

    I was wondering if you had any experience of this? Apart from that, everything else seems staright forward, just time-consuming!

    Many thanks
    Phil

  61. kareninglis says:

    No Phil I haven’t – I have an EIN. Also I personally wouldn’t dream of sending my Passport to the US! I’d suggest you read the blog post I link to above – and all the comments below it if this is the route you are taking: I think they may accept a driving license now or something. (And if sending passports I expect they would use Diplomatic Bags between the US embassy and the US etc but what do I know!) But why not apply for an EIN as a sole trader (read the detail above about what this means and my related post on Tax on royalties if you’re a UK author. If your sales are small you can claim the exception to paying NI etc.) Another blog to look at if you think you will go the ITIN route is Catherine Howard’s one here >> http://catherineryanhoward.com/2012/02/24/non-us-self-publisher-tax-issues-dont-need-to-be-taxing She has more on ITINs than I do. Good luck! Karen

  62. Phil Cox says:

    Thanks for the reply Karen. I guess my situation is a little different in that all of the income from sales goes to a charity so I don’t think a sole trader would be appropriate. Given that I won’t be travelling anywhere in the short term I figured I could take the risk on the old passport! Best wishes, Phil

    • kareninglis says:

      Ah – that makes sense, Phil! Do check out what those other blogs say – I’m pretty sure a certified copy of your driving license will suffice… Sorry I can’t be of more help on the detail for ITINs. K

  63. Phil Cox says:

    No problem, appreciate your posts. Best wishes, Phil

  64. Phil Cox says:

    Hi Karen, thought I would share this following a phone call with the IRS this evening. It’s worth saying they were really helpful and patient considering the daft questions I was asking.

    I am applying for an ITIN and sending my passport to the IRS office in Texas with form W-7 and the Amazon letter confirming I will be receiving royalties as a non-US citizen. My concern was getting my passport back but the IRS do return original documents via mail at no cost. They were happy to check other details on the form to make sure I had completed it correctly. Overall, a pleasant experience that provided the comfort I needed re the return of my passport.

    I know this is not strictly linked to the subject of your thread but hope it might help others.

    Best wishes

    Phil

  65. Phil Cox says:

    I called the number on the General Instructions sheet that comes with form W-7, from the UK 00-1-267-941-1000. I am not sure where this is but assume it was the Texas office of the IRS. I waited for about 20 minutes before the call was answered but the person on the other end appeared to have good knowledge of the ITIN procedure. I get the impression that she could have transferred the call to an ‘expert’ if required. My telephone package at home is such that the call was free from my land line, a cheap option would be Skype but you have to buy a minimum of £10 credit which equates to 9 hours of call time to the USA!

    The bottom line is that I posted my passport and forms off today to

    Internal Revenue Service
    Austin Service Center
    ITIN Operation
    P.O. Box 149342
    Austin, TX 78714-9342

    using International Signed for from the post office. The envelope weighed 54 grams and the cost was £7.78 providing a signature on delivery, tracking and £500 of compensation – more than enough to get a new passport if it all goes wrong.

    General Instructions

    http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/iw7.pdf

    Form W-7

    http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw7.pdf

    Fingers crossed!

    Best wishes

    Phil

    • kareninglis says:

      Thanks, Phil – that’s really useful for anyone here in the UK going for an ITIN to know. As you say earlier, because all of your proceeds from the book sale are going to charity it doesn’t make any sense to count yourself as a sole trader for the purposes of the book sales.

  66. johnflaherty says:

    Great information – just got my EIN on the phone in 5 minutes…
    (001 267 941 1009)

  67. I am trying to decide what to do…I am an American expat living in UK. Am going to self publish a book this spring via Kindle/Amazon and POD. I have a dormant wee publishing company in the USA I planned to use as the “publisher” and to use my American bank account as the place for sales funds to go with Amazon. I file a tax return in the USA and also in the UK but my part time PAYE job is in the UK where I live. My reason for using the American company to self publish is it is already set up, more an emotional choice than anything else. Is there anyone else in this situation here who is working/living in UK but planning to publish “in USA” (it’s all virtual w/ ebooks anyway)? I am wondering if there is any benefit to doing it either way, that is, should I instead publish “in the UK”? Completely confused on this. If I publish in USA and deal w/ the taxes there, do I need to also report any book sales income in the UK? I suppose only if somone on here is in a similar cross-pond situation can they offer advice or what they are doing…I can’t really afford to hire an accountant to advise me unfortunately. Most interesting and helpful blog by the way!

    • kareninglis says:

      Hi Michelle – I can certainly point you in the right direction to read up on this as a starting point as I commissioned a lot of plain English guidance for HMRC on tax a few years ago (I should add that I am *not* a tax expert, but have written a lot on it – the guidance I oversaw that the links below go to was checked & signed off by HMRC subject matter experts. I can’t guarantee it’s still up to date as a lot of info was moved across to gov.uk recently but Id be surprised if it wasn’t..).

      Here is a link on paying tax on foreign income if you are resident in the UK for tax purposes but domiciled abroad – which I am guessing applies to you? I think you need to choose how your overseas income is taxed – on the arising or remittance basis… but I imagine you must know about this already for your other income? Those terms are explained in the info here http://bit.ly/1b8HOHm and here http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/international/res-dom.htm – There is also info about double taxation agreements here (which explains how to ensure you don’t pay tax in both countries) : http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/international/dta-claim.htm

      I think it’s a wider question of how you choose to be taxed generally on your US income. To be honest it feels like a question for a tax lawyer! What HMRC may be able to do is simply tell you how to declare you tax if you decide to take royalties in the US instead of here… ?

  68. Kevin Rees says:

    To save all the hassle of trying to get an ITIN, could you just submit the W7-Ben form and accept the 30% taken out of your royalty? As I’m about to self-publish my first book I’m more concerned with getting anyone to buy it in the UK.

    Also handing over my passport is a no-no.

    • kareninglis says:

      Hi Kevin

      You could just accept the tax cut and do nothing as far as I know – but if things take off there are deadlines for claiming it back later on I believe. Getting an EIN as a sole trader is so simple I’d equally ask why not do that – though you may think that registering as self-employed is too much hassle…as it does mean you’d need to complete a tax return each year… etc (see my other tax post for UK authors on this)

      • Kevin Rees says:

        I suppose I didn’t identify with being an EIN as an independent author with no business name. Could I still go for an EIN?

  69. Kevin Rees says:

    UPDATE:
    I goy my EIN painlessly after taking your advice. Thank you very much Karen. And it didn’t take very long either, 10 minutes.

  70. Phil Cox says:

    Hi All

    Having embarked on the ITIN route, thought a quick update might be interesting. I posted my passport from the UK on 14th January; the envelope was signed for in Austin, Texas on 22nd January. I have heard nothing to date however the 6 week window for processing is due to end 25th February so there is still time.

    Just to reiterate the background to my comments on this thread, all of the income generated by sales of my book will go to a charity so I am keen to make every penny count. I cannot create a business around this project so the EIN route is not applicable. In terms of losing my passport, the worst that can happen is I have to apply for another one! Further updates as they happen.

    Best wishes

    Phil

  71. Phil Cox says:

    Good evening all….the saga continues.

    Received my passport and ITIN rejection letter back today – 6 weeks and 1 days after posting the application from the UK, quite impressed with the turnaround. The reason for rejection was down to the supporting documentation. As my passport is in date it could only have been the letter I downloaded from Amazon that is causing the problem. The letter confirms that I will be in receipt of royalties from Amazon and is specifically worded. However, it’s a generic letter so my Kindle reference number and name had to be completed by hand and the signature at the bottom of the letter is obviously a facsimile.

    I called the IRS and they confirmed this although it appeared they only had the reason for rejection on their system and not specifics. Again they were most helpful and the process lasted 23 minutes. Given the new development I have e mailed Amazon this evening and await a response! Will keep you posted.

    Best wishes

    Phil

  72. kareninglis says:

    Ah, no – how frustrating for you, Phil! (Did they really not specify what the issue was with the supporting documentation?) Please keep us updated. Once you have nailed the process I suggest we construct an idiot’s guide to getting an ITIN based on your experience as a sub-page :) Top marks for perseverance in the meantime! Karen

  73. Jane Davis says:

    Hi Karen,

    A great resource. I previously applied to Amazon and had my request turned down with no explaination. Yesterday I phoned the US Tax office. There was a long wait but I got my EIBN number with no problem. I am finding the completion of the W-BEN form more problematic. I must admit to finding the completion notes extremely confusing! At my request, Amazon have sent me a sample completed form but it is an old version (the latest is Feb 2014 and the questions are different.) However, from the sample Amazon form it seems that all I now need is the Article number of the UK treaty and the percentage rate of witholding I am claiming. I can’t seem to locate this information anywhere on the IRS website, so have asked Amazon the specific question. Meanwhile, any ideas anyone?

    Jane

  74. kareninglis says:

    Hi Jane – (nice to meet you the other day/evening at LBF!) Having just checked back on my form (and I see what you mean – they have now updated it and created a revised version) there is section on it that talks about Special rates and conditions and I assume this is what you are talking about. Here I think the info you need is Article 12 and you are claiming 0% withholding for (type of income) Book Royalties…. However I didn’t complete either of these sections for some reasons as I think I was told by the lady I spoke to on the phone that it wouldn’t be necessary – although a sample faxed to me by the US embassy after the event did show them completed… so I assume the article number must be correct. (You could always Google it to check..)

    Are you able to scan/ copy / photograph and email me a copy of the sample form sent to you by Amazon as it would be helpful for me to see when updating this page regards the new form…… you’ll find my email address under the contact page…

    I hope this works and I look forward to hearing…

    K

  75. Natalie Paskell says:

    Thank you for the information on obtaining an EIN number….helped me hugely. I called the number with my form prepared and got the number straight away. Until I saw your information I was going around in circles thinking I needed to acquire an ITIN number. Many many thanks for putting this information online

  76. Adam says:

    Just wanted to say thanks very much for putting this article together. It is hugely helpful, thanks Karen.

  77. Hello Karen,

    Sorry to bother you. I’m almost ready to self-publish my first novel, and have been looking into what a UK author has to do with regard to any possible income from the US. Some of the advice I’ve read seems to conflict, which has thrown me a bit, so I thought I’d drop you a line if that’s okay.

    My main concern is that a lot of authors appear to be saying that you can publish via Amazon etc and do the required form-filling afterwards, whereas on the Amazon website it says that you cannot publish with them until you have done ‘the interview’ to clarify your status with the IRS. I’m therefore a bit confused as to what I have to do before I can publish.

    I’ve been registered as self-employed for nine years, and I was under the impression that I could go ahead with the book, then get an EIN and fill in the W-8BEN afterwards to prevent/claim back the 30% tax being withheld. I’ll be publishing under my own name as a sole trader, not a company, as I’ve always done with my other freelance work.

    Any advice gratefully received!

    All the best,
    David

    • kareninglis says:

      Hi David – the ‘interview’ wasn’t around when I got my EIN. I’ve not yet had time to look at the process but will try to do so over the weekend. In the meantime, if anyone reading here knows the answer from more recent experience please leave a note. OR, David – see Phil Cox’s note below – why not email Amazon and ask the question specifically; they seem to be very good at replying. Do let us know but I’ll take a look myself over the weekend. Karen

  78. Phil Cox says:

    Hi All

    I know this is slightly off topic as most of the discussion here is around EIN’s but I though a quick update might be helpful to those going down the ITIN route.

    My original ITIN application, posted mid Jan to the US with my passport, was rejected as the ‘supporting documentation’ wasn’t acceptable. I spoke with the IRS (always helpful and patient I have to say) and was advised that the letter from Amazon was the issue i.e. it was the facsimile signature version downloaded from Amazon’s site and not wet signed; it would appear the W-7 was correctly completed. My passport and rejection letter arrived almost exactly 6 weeks after sending it as the IRS said it would in their help documentation.

    I emailed Amazon and they helpfully sent me a wet signed letter – this took a little while as the original letter didn’t arrive. Credit where it’s due, Amazon were very helpful and responded to all my e mails. My only concern now is that my passport and W-7 letter are in my full name and my Amazon account is just Phil Cox….we’ll see.

    The IRS asked me to complete a fresh W-7 and send my passport along with the wet signed Amazon letter – essentially I was making a brand new application. I provided a covering letter with the case reference number of the rejected application. All things being equal, I will post it tomorrow using the International Tracked and Signed for service (roughly £7.50 last time)….now the waiting begins!

    The post from David Powning on 24th April struck a chord with me, I was also unsure of when to take the ‘tax interview’ so I thought I would get the ITIN sorted first before trying to hit the publish button.

    Hope this is helpful and not too long winded!

    Best wishes

    Phil

  79. Hi Karen.
    Thanks for your reply. Having dug a little deeper, I think you can publish and then get an EIN afterwards. However, I’ll wait to see if anyone else can shed more light on this. In the meantime, an email to Amazon is probably the best idea …

    Have a good weekend.
    All the best,
    David

  80. Hi,

    Excellent advice – thanks for taking the time to share this.

    Just one question: for a typical UK Private Limited Company, what box(es) on the W8-Ben-E form, part 5 should I tick?

    Cheers,
    Gordon

  81. Cazbah says:

    I wanted to share my recent experience with form W-8BEN-E for others to draw on, as there’s important information that you need if you’re a foreign author who is using a company to receive US book-related income between now and July, and it’s not been made public on any IRS site. Headline advice: for now, you need to download the old 2006 version of the original W-8BEN form and complete that. Here is the link: http://www.sup.org/authors/docs/W8BEN.pdf

    Background: I first got my EIN, as you’ve detailed so helpfully above, by calling +1 267 941 1099. I called when they opened, at 7am ET (12pm in the UK), and that process was completed from start to finish in 10 minutes. Then I tried to get advice on how to complete the new W-8BEN-E form, as I’m using my company to receive US royalties under the US-UK withholding tax treaty. BUT it turns out that the form isn’t ready for use. It’s dated Feb 2014, and every website (and the new W-8BEN form) says you must complete W-8BEN-E if you’re a company rather than an individual. But the IRS haven’t yet published instructions for filling it W-8BEN-E – that’s scheduled for July. Instructions are needed, as it’s eight times as long and much more complicated that the old W-8BEN form. And nobody at the IRS feels qualified to advise on how to complete it, as they too are missing the instructions. I called the IRS several times, was on hold and transferred repeatedly from team to team. I spent hours googling, trying to find someone who’d navigated this before. I failed. I made several attempts at filling out the new form, trying to learn what I needed to decide which boxes to tick (e.g. deciding whether my company is an active or passive NFFE).

    But then, after being on hold for a very long time on my last IRS call, I finally spoke to someone who told me that I should fill out the *old* W-8BEN form. It says clearly at the top of the *new* Feb 2014 W-8BEN that you shouldn’t fill it out if you’re a company rather than an individual, and that you must use W-8BEN-E instead. But he said that they’d ‘put the cart before the horse’ in releasing the new forms without instructions, and were leaving people like us in a very difficult limbo as a result. So he told me to somehow get hold of the old (2006) version of the old W-8BEN form online and complete that. I have done this, and am sending it off to my US publisher with fingers crossed.

    For what it’s worth, on this 2006 W-8BEN form, it’s straightforward to complete questions 1-5; your EIN goes in Q6; you don’t need to include your VAT number in Q7, it’s optional apparently; no reference number needed in Q8. For Q9, you tick a/b/c; leave d and e blank. Q10, the relevant Article number is “12″ (for the UK at least). US-UK withholding tax rate is 0%. Your type of income is “royalties”. You meet the terms of the treaty article because “beneficial owner is a non-US entity, registered in [the UK]“. You don’t tick Q11 (unless some of your income is coming from financial swap products – probably unlikely).

    It was intensely frustrating to have to work all of this out in such a piecemeal manner, on the phone from the UK. Luckily I have a Skype account and keep some credit on it for calling people abroad that are not on Skype, and the whole thing cost me just pennies in phone charges. (A great deal more in terms of the opportunity cost of my time, but still!) So perhaps that’s a useful tip for people who need to call the IRS from abroad – it’s easy to set up a Skype account and set up Skype credit, and it gives you *almost* free international phone calls, as long as you have a wifi signal. And generally I hope my investigations will save another author from spending so much time on this.

    • Thanks Cazbah!

      I half-suspected this was the case, especially when there was no accompanying instruction pdf to go with W8-Ben-E.

    • kareninglis says:

      Hi Cazbah

      Thanks *so much* for posting this – I will update the article higher up this weekend to tell people to read this comment. I’ve done qute a lot of work in the UK for government departments and have often seen how they can get things wrong, so this doesn’t entirely surprise me!

      Karen

    • Anita says:

      As an amazon author, what do i put for Part 1 – Q3 of the W-8BEN form: ‘Type of Beneficial Owner’?

      • kareninglis says:

        Hi Anita – as I am a limited company I ticked corporation. I assume you are a self-employed sole trader? If that is the case then I’m not entirely sure but I’m guessing you could tick ‘Individual’ and then add in brackets (self-employed sole trader) to be on the safe side. If anyone who has submitted the form as a self-employed sole trader can answer this please chip in. Another thought is to call the IRS helpline and ask them? Please can you leave the answer here if you do this to help others? – thanks!I will email one contact now in case he knows… it’s probably a fault of the form.

      • Cazbah says:

        Hi Anita – I believe that’s a question about the way that you’re choosing to treat the income from book sales, and is separate from the question of how you want to publish the book, in your case through Amazon. If you’ve formed a UK limited company to process the revenues from your book’s sales (as described by Karen elsewhere on her website), you’d tick ‘corporation’. If you’ve not formed a limited company but are instead treating the book revenues as freelance/self-employment earnings, and have registered as a sole trader with HMRC to receive that income, it’s a bit blurry on whether your situation is classed as ‘individual’ or ‘corporation’ in the US categorization. My take is that because you are paying personal income tax, rather than corporation tax, and because corporation in the US implies a legal entity separate from the people who work there – true of limited companies, not true of sole traderships – I’d lean towards choosing ‘individual’ in this case. Hope that’s helpful – maybe others have solid info on that?

      • kareninglis says:

        Hi again Anita – I agree with Cazbah that being an Amazon author isn’t relevant – it’s how you are choosing to declare that income. On that basis do take a look at my related article for UK authors on paying income tax on book royalties and registering as self-employed – to be using an EIN I believe you’d need to be registered as self-employed.

      • kareninglis says:

        Hi Anita/all – a friend who is a tax expert has confirmed that you need to tick the box that says ‘Individual’ if you are have obtained your EIN as a self-employed sole trader.

        Here is what he said:

        “When completing the form W-8BEN the beneficial owner is the person entitled to the income, so in the case of a sole trader this will be an individual. At question 1 you write your own name and at question 3 you tick ‘Individual’

        If you trade through a limited company, the company is a ‘person’ and is entitled to the income in its own right so you write the company’s name at question 1 and tick ‘Corporation’ at question 3.”

        If it were me I’d still add in brackets, “(UK self-employed sole trader)” above the word ‘individual’ in small letters – just to be on the safe side! (To prevent anyone coming back to say I should be applying for an ITIN!)

        NB this relates to the old form – not the new one. Though I imagine there will be a similar question/option on that…

        I hope this helps.

  82. Jane Davis says:

    Thank you for all of this very useful information. Instructions have now been uploaded for the most recent version of the W8 form, however, the numbers use bear no resemblence to the question numbers on the form, so I am getting my old-style forms in pretty quick. I also had a go at the on-line submission on KDP, but this does not allow you to complete the form in full. You still have to print and submit it. I can confirm, however, that Amazon still feature the 2006 version of the form on their system.

  83. Catherine Gardiner says:

    Thank you for all the information you have posted on your site, I think it is one of the best if you’re a UK indie author. I have got an EIN but haven’t filled out the W8-BEN form yet and I know that I will have to get around to it. At the moment, I am stuck on how to get ISBN’s there is one question that has me stumped and I have asked on a couple of forums but no-one really could help me.

    Anyway, I just wanted to thank you.

    • kareninglis says:

      Hi Catherine – I’m glad you’ve found the info useful. Re ISBNs, if you’re in the UK and have an ISBN question why not just call Nielsen – they are very helpful. Or leave a comment/question under my section on ISBNs and I’ll see if I or anyone else can answer it.

      • Catherine Gardiner says:

        Thank you for replying Karen but I am absolutely terrified in using the phone. When I was researching in my EIN all I saw was that you should call but I took the chance and I filled in the form and posted it off. I can’t remember the postage but I did get my EIN in the post around five weeks later. So, if there are people like me out there that fear using the phone then if your from the UK you can get one by posting the SS-4 form to IRS in the US.

        I will go and ask my ISBN question in that section, thank you directing me there. :)

  84. Sam Pollard says:

    Thanks for putting this together, Karen – very helpful.

    Just to offer my own recent experience, in case it encourages anyone else thinking of getting an EIN.

    I’m in the UK (self employed) and was planning to publish my first book with Kindle.

    I rang the IRS on 001-267-941-1099 at 11am (6am their time – wow, they open their offices super-early) and was almost immediately talking to a very helpful woman who, once I’d explained the reason for calling, said sure, no problem – she was familiar with my request and dealt with similar on a regular basis.

    I’d previously downloaded the SS-4 and filled it in, ready to give her details.
    Question 7b – EIN
    Question 9a we agreed on ‘self employed sole trader UK’;
    Question 10 – compliance with IRS withholding regulations

    I doubt I was on the phone for more than fifteen minutes, and the woman couldn’t have been more helpful. Knew exactly what she was doing. At the end, she read me out my EIN and took care to make sure I’d written it down correctly and explained that I should expect postal confirmation within two weeks.

    Two and a half weeks later I received confirmation in the post (looked like the letter was posted in UK, so maybe they have an agency or someone at the embassy who sends them out to save on postage).

    Yesterday, I finally got around to filling in my tax details at Amazon for the Kindle publishing program. As part of that I quoted my EIN. There’s an on-screen form (W8?) which Amazon fill in as you go, and you confirm all the details at the end. I then got an onscreen confirmation that my withholding rate would be 0%.

    (Be aware that Amazon will ask if you have a TIN = tax identification number. That can take a variety of forms, including an EIN. So yes, if you’re trying to give them an EIN, you DO have a TIN.)

    Good Luck All

    • kareninglis says:

      Thanks, Sam for adding this really useful extra detail. And I’m glad you found the post useful. That on-screen form with Amazon didn’t exist when I did all of this so it’s good to know exactly how it works. I’ll flag your comment higher up in the post for people to look out for re TIN. Karen

  85. Sam Pollard says:

    Thanks Karen – just to clarify, the online version of the W8(? – sorry, can’t remember the exact number assigned to this form) didn’t appear until I’d answered a bunch of questions. The question ‘Do you have a TIN?’ appeared at the 70% mark (there’s a progress bar across the top of the window containing the various tax-related questions.)

    They ask you to ‘sign’ the form which of course just means typing your name into the appropriate box.

  86. llew says:

    Hi Karen,

    Thanks for the article, it has really helped me out. One thing I am still unsure of is how to claim back any taxes which have already been taken. I am U.K. based and the taxes are from U.S sales of my Kindle books.

    Any advice would be most appreciated.

  87. Emma says:

    I recently register as self employed in the UK for my writing endeavours. As advised, I have just recently obtained my EIN–very quickly running through everything on the phone to a very nice woman in America. The problem I have now is the new W8-BEN. There is nowhere on this form to put your EIN. It asks for a ITIN. This surely defeats the object of getting the EIN, you still need the ITIN!
    Has anyone completed and had the new W8-BEN accepted? If so, what did you put in this box? Your EIN?
    Also, as I have an EIN can you confirm whether I should be competing the W8-BEN, or the W8-BEN-E ?
    I am publishing through an American publishing company who pay me royalties, and they say I have no need to do anything as I will be paid as a subcontractor and can be paid up to $600 before tax. But what happens after this?
    Any advise would be greatly appreciated.
    Emma

    • kareninglis says:

      Hi Emma – when you say you are publishing through an American publishing company is that a traditional publishing deal you have – or have you paid them to help you self publish? I’m just trying to fathom the relationship just in case it helps any tax experts reading here and to help me understand your situation a bit more clearly.

      That apart it sounds to me as if you are trying to complete the *new* W8-BEN form which is only for individuals. Those with an EIN are now *supposed* to complete the new much more complicated W8-BEN-E form. *HOWEVER*, please read the helpful comment dated May 9th above from Cazbah who says that she was so confused by the W8-BEN-E form that she ended up calling back to the IRS who told her to seek out the *old* (Feb 2006) W8-BEN form and complete that for now with her EIN as the IRS had not yet been trained in how people should complete the new W8-BEN-E form. The old W8-BEN form (which was aimed at both individuals and businesses) has a clear place to add the EIN.

      I’m afraid I don’t yet know whether the IRS now has received training on how the the new W8-BEN-E form should be completed. If they have they would be able to tell you how to do it I think. According to Cazbah they thought that would happen in July, but I don’t know when exactly. It may be worth calling them back to ask.

      If you find out please do leave a note, otherwise I’d be grateful if someone could leave a note here if they know. Sorry I can’t be of more help on this occasion…

      • Emma says:

        The American company is a traditional publishing company. They are still quite new so don’t offer advances at this stage. I will be paid on sales of my book that they are currently editing with me. They design my cover, and also sort out formatting to kindle/e-book, ISBN number, and distribution of my book. I haven’t paid them anything–they have a query and submission process.
        Seems that I should venture in the way of the old W8-BEN, and see what happens–or face the dreaded new W8-BEN-E form which, after having a quick peek, looks a complete nightmare!
        I shall let you know how I get on and pop back to comment on my findings :)
        Emma

      • kareninglis says:

        Good luck – and yes, do let us know how you get on. I’m relieved to hear that you’re not paying someone to publish your book for you. While there are reputable services out there, there are also some sharks so one has to take care. The Alliance of Independent Authors, of which I’m a member, has a Watchdog area that has identified services ripping authors off. But yours doesn’t sound like one of those… Best of luck with your book sales :-)

  88. Sam Pollard says:

    Emma,
    I’m in the UK, and publishing on Kindle/Amazon.
    I believe an EIN is just one of several forms of ‘ITIN’.
    You might want to look at this on the IRS website, where they list the various types of ‘ITIN’

    http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/International-Taxpayers/Taxpayer-Identification-Numbers-(TIN)

    Having got my EIN, in the same way that you did, I then completed my tax details on the Amazon site (their online version of W8-whatever) and when asked for my TIN I gave it my EIN and was happily accepted.

    I hope that helps.

    • kareninglis says:

      Just a quick note – Sam I think in your second sentence above you mean that an EIN is just one form of ‘TIN’ (not ‘ITIN’)…. and that sounds right to me…

  89. Sam Pollard says:

    Karen – you’re absolutely right. Thanks for clarifying.
    That link I included shows a whole bunch of different types of TIN.
    EIN and ITIN are just two of them.
    There are more!

  90. Regev Elya says:

    managed to get my taxes to 10% from 30% :) theres no longer a need to print and ship this w8ben form fortunately

    http://regevelya.com/royalty-withholding-tax/

  91. Lorna Riley says:

    I can’t tell you how long I’ve been putting off doing this & it was so easy! Once I’d got the SS-4 form completed, I used skype to save myself an expensive phone call & it was done in 5 minutes! And, just so you know, the IRS says you can continue to use the W8-BEN form for ‘entities’ until the end of 2014. They obviously still don’t know what they’re doing with the new form!

  92. Lorna Riley says:

    Here’s the official information about the form from the IRS:

    The Form W-8BEN-E reflects changes made by the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act
    (FATCA) and is for use by beneficial owners that are entities. Entities also may use the
    Form W-8BEN (revision date February 2006) through December 31, 2014.
    For purposes of chapter 3 of the Internal Revenue Code, a Form W-8BEN (revision date
    February 2006) provided to a withholding agent by an entity before January 1, 2015 will
    remain valid until the form’s validity expires under Treasury Regulations section 1.1441-1(e)
    (4)(ii).
    For purposes of chapter 4 of the Internal Revenue Code, a Form W-8BEN (revision date
    February 2006) provided to a withholding agent by an entity before January 1, 2015 is and
    will remain valid to the extent permitted in Treasury Regulations section 1.1471-3(d)(1)
    (describing the allowance for use of a “pre-FATCA Form W-8”). See also Treasury
    Regulations section 1.1471-2T(a)(4)(ii) (describing a transitional exception to withholding for
    certain payments made with respect to a preexisting obligation).
    A withholding agent may request that you provide a Form W-8BEN (revision date February
    2006) before January 1, 2015. The Form W-8BEN (revision date February 2006) can be
    found on irs.gov in the Forms and Publications section, under the “Prior Year Forms” tab, by
    searching the cumulative list of forms posted there for the term “Form W-8”. It does not
    reflect the changes made by FATCA.

  93. WriterMum says:

    Hello Karen, your blog has been a lifeline to me in the past few days. I’m a soon-to-be-self-published author who is an American citizen but has lived in the UK for the past decade. I assume I was right to fill out my W9 form online with CreateSpace…but am so confused as to what taxes I’ll end up paying – will I have to pay British taxes too because I live here? Nightmare!

  94. Hi Karen
    I wonder if you or anyone else can help… earlier in the year I got my EIN from the IRS and told them I was a self employed sole trader – no problems there, they were great and all worked fine. I then gave the EIN to CreateSpace via their online form and all appeared to be fine. But now, 9 months later, they have emailed saying I need to fill out their on line form again as there is a mismatch and treaty benefits will not be enacted. But when I try to fill in the form, if I select ‘individual’ as the beneficial owner (rather than corporation etc), then when I get to the point of adding my TIN, it says it must be in the format of a SSN or ITIN. When I enter an EIN, it tells me that the format is wrong. Has anyone encountered this? CreateSpace say to call the IRS but the IRS say it is CreateSpace’s form and can’t help. I really don’t think I should change my beneficial status to ‘corporation’ (which I think will give me the option of entering an EIN as my TIN) as I am not a corporation in tax terms. Any thoughts? Many thanks
    Caroline

    • kareninglis says:

      Hi Caroline – I’m beyond this stage of course and the online form didn’t exist before. Are the options on the online form only for ‘corporation’ or is there any other wording there? eg that says something more vague, like ‘business’? I have a contact who may know the answer but not sure…

    • kareninglis says:

      Caroline – I’m raising this through the Alliance of Independent Authors to see if we can get CS to talk with the IRS as there’s been so much confusion about this of late. I feel a bit helpless as I’ve not had to use the online form but it sounds as if CS is basing it on the new changes that the IRS introduced earlier this year, which their internal teams are struggling with. See earlier posts on this. Are you a member of ALLi btw? If not check out the link on my site above – it’s worth joining! As/when I hear anything I’ll leave a post here but please do the same if you find anything out by any other means! Karen

      • Lorna Riley says:

        There are indeed a lot of complaints about this on the Createspace forums. There doesn’t seem to be a definitive answer on this. I have to admit, I ticked ‘corporation’ on the form, just to allow me to fill out my EIN. I figured that the IRS knows the status of my business & they are ultimately the ones processing the withholding tax claims. It’s not ideal, but I couldn’t see any other way around it.

      • kareninglis says:

        Thanks for letting us know, Lorna – it’s bonkers they haven’t sorted this out yet. Karen

    • kareninglis says:

      Hi Caroline – I’ve just had some feedback via other members of the Alliance of Independent Authors as follows:

      I entered my EIN number after another request last week and it was accepted on my second attempt. The first time I filled in the form, I was told that the system did’n’t recognise it, so I contacted customer support and they told me that the online form DOES accept EINs. I tried again and it was accepted. (This lady confirmed that she had selected ‘Individual’ under the given options.)

      We then had a follow-up response from someone else that said this:

      The answer is easy once you know: there is no option of an EIN but there is for a TIN. If you look closely at the form under the TIN box it shows a sample of the format. Just enter your EIN number into the TIN box in the format shown and hey presto. Also if you printed a copy of your completed form which you should of done for your records, get it out and complete this years form in exactly the same way otherwise the IRS will reject you submission. Hope this helps…

      (I’m not sure what he means about ‘this year’s form’ which seems to imply annual completion of the form – I’m unaware that is necessary, and have only ever completed one form for each my distributors way back . But I may have misread what he means. I’ll leave a clarification note later…)

  95. Lorna Riley says:

    I’ve gone through the form as suggested & it has worked. I’m not entirely convinced the IRS will appreciate getting the EIN in that format (XXX-XX-XXXX rather than XX-XXXXXXX), but we’ll see! I’ll let you know if any problems come up further down the line.

  96. Mark says:

    Hi Karen,

    Great post! I have a question for UK based people. Can you use your UK National Insurance number instead of an ITIN or EIN?

    The reason I ask is because the W8-BEN instructions are as follows:

    To claim certain treaty benefits, you must complete line 5 by submitting an SSN or ITIN, or line 6 by providing a foreign tax identification number (foreign TIN).

    I’ve spotted a few sites online (mostly about trading shares from the UK) and they all indicate you should use your National Insurance number and leave the ITIN part blank e.g.:

    https://help.stockbrokers.barclays.co.uk/help/portfolio/w8_BEN_How2

    This would be great it it’s true. Have you or anyone else tried it?

    Cheers,
    Mark.

    • kareninglis says:

      Mark – I’ve not heard this before. Which version of the W8-BEN form are you referring to. Can you confirm what date it shows… As you will have seen from recent discussions on here, there has been a lot of confusion since the launch of the new one….

      • Mark says:

        I picked the info off the February 2014 form at the following URL:

        http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/iw8ben.pdf

        Page 6 is the part which mentions using a foreign TIN on line 6 instead of needing an American ITIN for line 5.

        It may just be an exemption for purchasing US stocks and shares from the UK but it would be good to know if self-publishers could use it too.

        Thanks,
        Mark.

  97. Zoltan says:

    hi,
    After I get an EIN number, do I have to send annual tax reports or anyting else to IRS?

  98. Alexander Castle says:

    Great article. I’ve literally just got off the phone and have my EIN number now. Called at 12pm UK time (7am Eastern US time) and got straight through. 10 minute conversation and confirmed the information on the SS-4 form I’d completed (my answer for 9a – Other – Self-employed Sole Trader UK). She warned me to give it 2 weeks before contacting Amazon (Kindle KDP) with the information as it takes that long for the information to go into the database. Hopefully I’ll receive the confirmation letter from the IRS in the same time frame.

  99. Andrew Rajan says:

    Hi Karen
    Coming here via the ALLi FB page, as you suggested. Thank you for your invaluable help and advice. I am about to launch my debut self-pub through Bookbaby on all platforms in a couple of weeks. I called the US with SS-4 ready to go, as a UK-based limited company. Within minutes, I had my EIN, calling as I did just after 11am, there was no wait-time at all to speak of and all went tickety-boo.
    Do I actually need to fax the form to them, or do they have all they need, having spoken on the phone?
    Secondly, I had a look at the new W8 BEN E form and it looks terrifying. I have Absolutely no idea how to fill it in.. FFI, NFFE, GIIN etc… Do you have a piece on what to tick? I looked through this thread but could find no link.. am not even sure whether I need to be doing this form or the old W8 BEN; have they cleared up the issues their end yet?
    Thanks
    Andrew

  100. kareninglis says:

    Hi Andrew – I’m so sorry for the delayed reply. You don’t need to fax them the form SS-4 anywhere as far as I know. It’s a long time since I did this but from recollection it’s just a reference from to help you give the IRS the right info when you call them. But my blog post describes the process above in any event. With regards to the new W8 BEN E form, if you look at the comments I wrote in coloured text above it says that someone was recently told they could keep using the old form until Christmas as the IRS found the new form so confusing. I know I looked at the new form briefly to try to understand it and was utterly confused! But of course I’ve not needed to complete it. I would suggest you try calling the IRS in London if you’re based here and ask them direct whether you can use the old form. If they say you need to complete the new one then I’d ask them what you need to fill in where! If you do make the call and find the answer please do leave a comment here. I’m sorry I can’t be of more help. But I’m going on what previous commenters have said since the new form… Good luck and, again, so sorry I can’t be of more help…! Karen

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