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For Foreign Authors Wishing to Publish on Amazon: Read This

This post is for foreign authors wishing to publish on Amazon; the complete lowdown on how to get a US TIN (Tax Identification Number) and file a W8-BEN.

Below is what it says on DTP Amazon:

I am a foreign resident in a country with a U.S. tax treaty and have provided a Form W8-BEN, but the W8-BEN does not provide a valid U.S. TIN. Will taxes be withheld at the applicable treaty rate?

NO. Taxes will be withheld at the 30% standard rate because a valid U.S. TIN on your form W8-BEN is a prerequisite to obtaining a reduced treaty withholding rate under applicable U.S. tax law.

O.K. That’s me. So I need a W8-BEN and a TIN right?


Read on.  It’s not much more complicated – you need w8-BEN, an ITIN and a W-7.

This guide will help you.

First check that your country of residence has a tax treaty with the US (IRS). You can get that information from the IRS web site. If your country doesn’t have a tax treaty then I suggest you sell through Amazon UK which doesn’t withhold taxes at source or Smashwords. But Amazon is the dominant distribution channel in the ebook space, and Amazon US is a lot bigger in terms of market than Amazon UK. So if your country does have a tax treaty and item 2 above applies to you then read on.

The first form you need is a W8-BEN. You can download it here. I highly recommend that you read the instructions for filling out the form, because in there you’ll find out you also need an ITIN. What does a form W8-BEN do?

Establish that you are not a U.S. person. Claim that you are the beneficial owner of the income for which Form W-8BEN is being provided or a partner in a partnership subject to section 1446; and if applicable, claim a reduced rate of, or exemption from, withholding as a resident of a foreign country with which the United States has an income tax treaty.

To get an ITIN you need a Form W-7 (I swear I am not making this up). WTF is an ITIN! It’s an Individual Tax Identification number. What does an ITIN do?

If you do not have a SSN and are not eligible to obtain a SSN, but you have a requirement to furnish a federal tax identification number or file a federal income tax return, you must apply for an ITIN.

Got it?

A list of Acceptance Agents and Authorized offices that can accept documents for ITIN are on the IRS website.

In Summary:

  1. Download forms W-7 and W8-BEN
  2. Fill in form W-7.
  3. Take Form 7 and your passport along to an Authorized Agent. Or mail it to: Internal Revenue Service, Austin Service Center ITIN Operation P.O. Box 149342 Austin, TX 78714-934
  4. Wait for 4-6 weeks
  5. When you have received your ITIN number fill out form W8-BEN (HEY Wake up we’re almost done).
  6. Mail the forms to Amazon.
  7. You’re done – you just saved 30% of your income

Now I’m going to drink a snifter of Cognac and smoke a large cigar. Bureaucrazy and taxes have that effect on me…

  • girlfrombim

    Does the same thing apply if you have already (self-published) your book but now want to sell it on Amazon?

    • http://www.selfpublishingreview.com/members/sgroyle/ S. G. Royle

      @girlfrombim Yes if you are a foreigner selling on Amazon, then it makes no difference where you have or have not sold your work previously – you need above documents.

      • girlfrombim

        Great – thanks!Any other tips would be appreciated! :)

  • http://www.selfpublishingreview.com/members/ajdavidson/ AJ Davidson

    Be careful sending a passport. I did and it was not returned by the IRS. Had to kick up a bit of a fuss before they ‘found’ it.