Foreign Authors wishing to publish on Amazon. Read this, it’ll save you a lot of time.


Image via Wikipedia

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:

2. 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 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 them 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…


About Simon Royle

Thinking about the future, and how to affect positive change for that future.
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