Non-US Self-Publisher? Tax Issues Don’t Need to be Taxing (Overhauled Oct ’14)

24 Feb

****Update October 2014 – Read Me!****

From the Amazon KDP Tax Interview guide, October 2014:

“If you are claiming a reduced rate of withholding tax under an income tax treaty and do not have a U.S. TIN, provide your foreign (non-U.S.) income tax identification number to receive treaty benefits. This number is issued by your local tax authority or government for income tax purposes.”

That’s right, folks. Now – thanks to changes in something called FATCA (thanks Marcela of Beyond Frontiers Tax for the heads up!) – you only need the tax identification number from your own country to avail of any tax treaty benefits that may exist between your country of residence and the United States. This, for example, is an NI number in the UK and a PPS number in Ireland. This means you will know never know the horror of obtaining an ITIN or the suspicious ease of getting an EIN, but can simply go straight to Amazon KDP, Createspace, Smashwords, etc. and complete your tax interview with information you already have.

If you don’t have a tax identification number for some reason (some countries only give them to individuals who have been employed, for example), you DO need to get an ITIN or an EIN.

If you have past withholdings that you believe you are entitled to get back, you will have to file a US tax return and for this you DO need an ITIN or EIN.

I’m leaving the original post below but you don’t need it unless you’re hellbent on getting an EIN.

Click here for information on filling out the Amazon KDP tax interview with EITHER an ITIN or your own tax identification number. (They won’t take EINs, but you don’t need to enter it if you have your own tax identification number and your country has a tax treaty with the US.)

A word of caution: I’ve never in my life encountered a process that is so gleefully and needlessly overcomplicated by people. It was straightforward before, now it’s downright simple. How about we all act accordingly, eh?

The original post is below but before you click “Read More” please, keep in mind that you don’t actually need it now unless you have to get an EIN and you only need to do that if you have past withholdings you want to get refunded, and if you do I’d recommend you go to a tax specialist who can act as an intermediary like TaxBack.com

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Original post from 2012 below this line

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OH FOR THE LOVE OF FUDGE.

That’s what this whole tax-withholding-for-non-US-residents makes me want to scream. Out loud, and repeatedly. But as I’ve said before, self-publishing your e-book on the biggest online retailer in the world is so easy, there had to be something like this to balance it out.

If you haven’t been keeping up with this ongoing saga, here’s a quick recap. I spent eight months, give or take, trying to get my own Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN). I relied on the experiences of two other self-publishers, Sally Clements and Roz Morris, to help me out; the information the IRS provides wouldn’t help you find your way out of a small paper bag, let alone anywhere near an ITIN. Luckily once I had the damn thing, getting my full royalty payments and the money withheld from me in the year to date was easy and quick. But then, in the last few weeks, people started telling me that I didn’t need an ITIN at all—an Employee Identification Number (EIN) would’ve done the job, and an EIN was much easier to get. I posted about this possibility, and fellow Irish self-publisher David Gaughran volunteered to be the guinea pig—and got his EIN within minutes, and over the phone. This was extremely useful information, especially since another commenter (thanks, Janet!) told us that new IRS rules mean that starting this year, monies withheld will only be available for refund through the IRS—and not refunded automatically by KDP and CreateSpace, as they have been up until now.

I feared that most people wouldn’t read through all the comments on the original post, so I asked David to write a guest post for us here about how he got his EIN. Take it away, David…

“As many of you will know, Amazon and Smashwords are required by law to withhold 30% of the royalties earned by non-US authors until they settle their tax status. The commonly accepted method of doing so was going through the laborious process of getting an International Tax Identification Number (ITIN), which necessitates arcane form-filling, notarized copies of passports, embassy trips, fees, and inexplicable rejection (writers should at least be used to the last part). And indeed, this was the path I was on myself, up until yesterday.

In the last few weeks, I had heard some mutterings that there was an easier, quicker way, but hadn’t had time to look into it. After Catherine’s post on Monday, suggesting that self-publishers might be able to get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) instead, which will also do the trick, I decided to give it a shot.

First things first: I’m no tax expert. In fact, the entire subject turns my brain to soup. And I know as much about the law as this guy. All I can explain is how I got my EIN in ten minutes and how you should be able to do the same.

One final caveat: this only applies to self-published authors who are publishing through their own company (and that company must be set up outside the US). While the IRS doesn’t appear to ask for proof that you have actually established your own publishing company, I’m sure there are all sorts of reasons why you shouldn’t commence this process until you actually have.

1. Call the IRS at +1 267 941 1099

This is a direct line to the dedicated unit in Philadelphia that deals with foreign entities (that’s you) who need an EIN. Press 2 on the computerized menu to get through to an operator. While I’ve heard it’s possible to get your EIN through some embassies and consuls, that certainly doesn’t apply to all of them and this number will work for everyone. Note: they won’t take a call from anyone using a “speakerphone”. If you are using Skype on your laptop, have a set of headphones plugged in before you call, to avoid an undignified scramble around your apartment. Finally, while there is an online facility for doing this, foreign entities can’t use that.

 2. Tell them you’re applying for an EIN for a foreign entity.

They may ask if you are a legal officer of the company or some such, I said that I was a sole proprietor, and the owner of the business, which satisfied them.

3. There’s a 50% chance that they will tell you that you need Form SS-4

You do not want to go down this path, which requires form-filling, fees, delays, and somehow locating a fax machine. If this is what they tell you, politely end the call, and call them back. I only had to do this once, and then got someone a little more helpful.

4. Give your details

They will ask for your name, mailing address, phone number, the name of your company, and the country it was incorporated. This will involve a lot of spelling and repetition, but make sure all the details are correct.

 5. They will ask if this is for compliance with withholding

Say “yes”.

6. They will ask if this is for e-books

Say “yes”.

 7. They will give you your EIN!!!

After confirming all your details, they will give you your EIN right there and then. Resist the urge to shower your helpful IRS employee with virtual kisses. Also, it’s probably best not to try and sell them your book. Write your EIN down somewhere safe, then save it on your computer, upload it to Dropbox, copy it to a thumb drive, email it to yourself, carve it on the biggest tree in your garden, and consider getting it tattooed somewhere private.

Submitting the W8-BEN

If you follow these steps, you will save yourself time, money, and a whole load of heartache. All you have left to do is fill out the W8-BEN (you didn’t really think you were going to avoid those forms altogether, did you?).

I have copied that advice here, as it requires a little modification now that you have an EIN rather than an ITIN.

First you need to download the W8-BEN form, and print it out. The official instructions for filling it out are here, but the below might be a little more helpful. Note: you will need one copy each for Amazon KDP, CreateSpace, and Smashwords.

Part I (You must fill out everything in blue ink)

1. Your full legal name.

2. The country you live in/pay taxes in (don’t abbreviate anything).

3. Type of beneficial owner: Check the box that says “Individual” (and nothing else).

4. Your physical address/street address (don’t abbreviate).

5. Your mailing address (only if different).

6. Select the “EIN” box, and fill your number in.

7. Your foreign tax number (i.e. your tax number in your country of residence. I actually forgot to include this, and some say it doesn’t matter, but there’s no harm putting it in).

8. Fill in your KDP Publisher No. (in Account Settings, bottom right of screen) on one form, the email address associated with your Smashwords account on the second form, and your Createspace Member No. (on your dashboard) on the third.

Part II (only fill out the parts indicated)

9a. Tick the box and write your country in the line provided (again, don’t abbreviate).

9b. Tick the box and fill in your EIN.

10. This bit will vary depending on your country.

  • For the first section (after “Article”), you will need the appropriate number for your country. It’s “XII” for Canada, “12” for the United Kingdom, and Ireland is “12” also. You will have to check the number for other countries here (and come back and tell us in the comments to save the next person doing so).
  • For the second section (the % withholding rate), fill in 0 (zero) for Canada, Ireland, or the United Kingdom. I believe Australia is 5, and you can check other countries here (Publication 515, Table 1).
  • For the third section (specify type of income), write “Royalties-12, Other”.
  • For the final section (Explain the reasons…) write “Beneficial Owner is a resident of…” and then write your country (and don’t abbreviate, people have been rejected simply for writing “U.K.”).

Part IV (skip Part III altogether)

Sign your name, date it, and write “Self” over “Capacity”.

And you’re done! While you might feel like cracking out the whiskey at this point, I recommend posting everything off right away. You will need to send a separate W8-BEN (an original, not a photocopy!) to each of the following that you have published with:

  • Amazon KDP: Attn. Vendor Maintenance, PO Box 80683, Seattle, WA 98108-0683, USA.
  • Smashwords: Tax Compliance Dept., 15951 Los Gatos Blvd., Ste 16 Los Gatoes, CA 95032, USA.
  • CreateSpace: 8329 West Sunset Road, Suite 200, Las Vegas, NV, 89113, USA.

I sent the forms off, by express post, with a simple cover letter stating I had attached the W8-BEN for compliance with withholding. It takes them a few weeks to process, but within a month or so, they should stop withholding your royalties (hooray!).

Under the old way, the advice was to wait until you had accrued a certain amount of royalties. That no longer applies, and you are recommended to apply for an EIN right away. Many self-publishers (like me) were so aghast at the laborious process that they put it off, knowing that they could apply for a refund of the taxes withheld at a future point. Apparently, new legislation means that you will no longer be able to do this. As such, you are advised to commence this process as soon as possible.

I would like to thank Roz Morris, Sally Clements, and my gracious host for doing all the real legwork on this issue, and whoever first discovered that you could simply phone up and get an EIN. This post merely builds on their hard-won knowledge.

Finally, if you are reading this at some time in the future, first of all, sorry for screwing up the planet, and second, you might want to check you are using the up-to-date W8-BEN form on the IRS website.”

And thank YOU, David!

So, to recap:

  • If you have an ITIN, there’s no need for you to be reading this post. Unless it’s for procrastination purposes. If so, we all understand.
  • If you have already applied for an ITIN and are waiting for it to arrive, my advice would be to wait a little bit longer. If it takes longer than a month from now for your ITIN to arrive, start chasing an EIN instead.
  • If you haven’t applied for anything yet, apply for an EIN. This will require you to have a company, even if that means just registering as a sole trader. Do you have to actually publish through this company, as in, do you have to purchase ISBNs and put the name of your company on your books? I highly doubt it. But I think filling out a companies registration form and being on the phone to the IRS for a few minutes is considerable less headachy than the ITIN application process.
  • Whatever you’re doing, hurry up. You can no longer get withholdings back for the year to date without applying to the IRS for a tax refund (apparently) and so my advice would be to do this before you release your book, if possible.
  • Good luck!

About David Gaughran:

David is the author of the South American historical adventure A Storm Hits Valparaiso and the short stories If You Go Into The Woods and Transfection, as well as Let’s Get Digital: How To Self-Publish, And Why You Should. He runs the popular publishing blog Let’s Get Digital, the history site South Americana, and has a regular column for Indie Reader.

718 Responses to “Non-US Self-Publisher? Tax Issues Don’t Need to be Taxing (Overhauled Oct ’14)”

  1. Lani Wendt Young February 24, 2012 at 08:38 #

    Thank you so much for this. I have been putting of applying for my numbers and to hear there might be an easier way over the phone?! WOW. Im defn going to do this. Appreciate so much the clear instructions and advice.

    • catherineryanhoward February 24, 2012 at 12:21 #

      You’re welcome, although David did all the hard work. Let us know how you get on!

      • Michael Bevilacqua July 9, 2013 at 18:57 #

        Even after the great feedback of this informative article, I was still filled with anxiety due to the ss4. (I just cringe at govt, tax paperwork) I finally made the call. Note that, at the time of writing this, July 9, 2013, the phone selection to apply for an EIN for a foreign entity is now “1”. After being placed on hold at 1:29 EST, my call was answered at 1:32. SS4 came up right at the beginning – asking me if I had it in front of me. I did but it did not really matter. The questions were a breeze and at 1:38 I had my number. This made my day. Those double taxes have been hurting. Thank you so much!

      • Jackie Luben September 1, 2013 at 13:00 #

        Thank you both very much for this. I have now received confirmation by email and by post from the American Tax authorities that I am exempt from paying tax. Your help was invaluable.

      • Char September 3, 2014 at 01:16 #

        Hi Catherine,

        Thank you for this blog post. I have just now successfully obtained an EIN with great ease thanks to this post. The only thing was that I needed to choose option 1 (not 2 as stated)… but I didn’t have to wait and the gentleman I got asked about the form and I replied ‘Oh, I received advice that I could just phone’ and he replied ‘that is correct, it just makes it easier if you have seen the form, so you know what information we need, but we can just do this without you having seen the form’.

        I received my EIN in under 5 minutes, so thank you!

    • John King September 26, 2012 at 02:21 #

      I must thank you and David about the useful information, I was disappointed that foreigners could not apply online and have to apply by phone or mail, but your post was such a relief.

      thanks again

      -John

    • Rowly November 14, 2013 at 11:38 #

      Thanks for all the info. Good trick is to phone when the office in Philly is just opening – 6am (east coast tome). Now have my EIN.

    • maurita December 16, 2013 at 10:30 #

      hello and thank you so so much for this post of invaluable help!
      I am from israel and for us the number of the article is 14 and 10% withholding rate.
      I would need a small clarification: in the third section (specify type of income), write “Royalties-12, Other”, should I write Royalties-14 or royalties-12 (considering the fact that the number of the article about royalties is 14 in the israel-usa treaty)?
      I hope my question is clear,
      thank you so much for any help!

    • Stuart July 23, 2014 at 21:51 #

      Just did it all online on the Amazon KDP website. W8-BEN included. (They had the form an everything online!)

      • Jessica Augustsson August 14, 2014 at 18:55 #

        Stuart, do you mean you got the EIN online as well? Do you have links?

        • Jill Kuri (@jillycrystal) August 15, 2014 at 15:31 #

          I got EIN through phone call but later checking on Amazon website under “your name” Account in the Tax Information section they have a virtual W8-BEN form which you may complete once you have an EIN.

          • M T McGuire September 14, 2014 at 23:34 #

            They do but it told me that the information I have given doesn’t correspond with what the IRS has… I have discalculia, please heaven don’t let me have written the ruddy number down wrong. Ho hum… anyway, here’s hoping.

            Cheers

            MTM

            • M T McGuire September 14, 2014 at 23:43 #

              Ah… hang on a minute… update… if you’ve received your EIN number within 60 days you need to tick the box on one of the Amazon pages. I missed it and I think I was coming up as unknown on the IRS’s records because I’m not on their database yet.

              Cheers

              MTM

  2. dirtywhitecandy February 24, 2012 at 09:28 #

    This saga goes on and on, doesn’t it?
    This is Roz, who did it the old way. If I’d known about this… although I did have a nice trip to the Embassy, which might go into a book sometime as I’d never have done it otherwise. And I did have a long and hilarious conversation with the IRS official, who was a retired spy. Or he said he was. And he’s now writing a novel.

    • catherineryanhoward February 24, 2012 at 12:23 #

      And on and on and on and on… The tax section in the next issue of Self-Printed is going to have be expanded. :-(

      I’m refusing to go down the What If road and instead am being happy that I have my ITIN. I don’t *really* want to have to register as a sole trader or anything yet—although, along with 5120 other things, that’s on my To Do list—and, hey, the application process was an adventure. Not as much as an adventure as yours though. Retired spy?! :-)

  3. gillyfraser February 24, 2012 at 10:43 #

    David and Catherine – if this doesn’t get you into heaven – nothing will. Blessings on you both from someone who turns into a quivering heap of quivering stuff at the very sight of a tax form, regardless of its nationality, colour or creed.

    • catherineryanhoward February 24, 2012 at 12:23 #

      Thanks Gilly! Yes, this is my good deed for 2012. ;-D

    • Bigpigsmum November 20, 2012 at 13:56 #

      Absolutely! I had to do the deep breathing excercise so many times before dialing, so far I’ve spoken to Mrs Jackson, then to Mr Edwards who very kindly put me through to Miss Walker. The press button stystem had me totally confused so I tried any number of them and held on.

      I’m pretty sure I answered everything right, but I did have the SS-4 document open on my computer and the nice lady at the other end simply called out the numbers for me to answer. Box 16 confused me a little.

      Thank you so much for this site, I was quite prepared to give up my 30% because of my nerves, but hey why should two lots of governments take my hard earned pennies?

      Thank you again and super sized hugs.

  4. Richard Herley February 24, 2012 at 11:49 #

    A benediction upon you both, or lots of karma, or whatever floats your pedalo. In other words, thanks!

  5. authorsanon February 24, 2012 at 12:02 #

    Reblogged this on NewsLetter and commented:
    sequel post on self-publishing on Amazon outside US, and withheld taxes : detailed info on obtaining EIN (instead of ITIN)

  6. Winston February 24, 2012 at 12:27 #

    Thanks, for the help and advice. Now to go claim my EIN.

  7. Zelah Meyer February 24, 2012 at 13:25 #

    Thank you! I shall get this sorted as soon as I start my own business. This makes things much, much easier!

  8. Vera Soroka February 24, 2012 at 16:05 #

    I went to the IRS website and I see you can appyly on line as well. I don’t know if that is easier than phoning or not.
    Is this a good idea to do before ever putting anything on Amazon and these other sites?

    • davidgaughran February 24, 2012 at 16:40 #

      Hi Vera,

      Applying online is only for US-registered companies. International self-publishers can’t do it.

      As to your second question, there’s no real point. The process is so quick (a few minutes on the phone, then a couple of weeks for the retailers), that you don’t need to plan that far ahead.

      Besides, you won’t be able to send everything off to all the sites until you have opened accounts with them.

      Dave

      • Nino Dvalidze January 21, 2013 at 11:12 #

        I represent the publishing house established in Tbilisi, Georgia. I was wondering if it is possible to get EIN for the publishing house, or only self-published authors who are publishing through their own company are eligible.
        Thank you.

  9. Cat Lavoie February 24, 2012 at 17:34 #

    David and Catherine: I can not thank you enough!! I followed your instructions and (on my second attempt–the first lady wanted me to fax the form) was able to get my EIN!

    I waited in line for 2 hours at the Passport Office yesterday (the fact that it was my birthday did not allow me to cut in line) to get a certified copy of my passport… and I have to go back in 2 weeks to get my copy and my passport back. How I wish I’d known about the EIN!

    Thanks again to both of you! Here, have a piece of virtual birthday cake! :)

  10. J.M. Porup February 25, 2012 at 03:42 #

    Hair-splitting: this problem exists for non-US nationals (citizens and permanent residents), not non-US residents. I’m a US citizen living overseas. It tooks weeks of wrangling with Amazon to figure out what I was supposed to send them. Turns out US expats can file a W-9 to claim exemption from withholding.

    I was thinking about renouncing my U.S. citizenship. After reading all these tax horror stories, I think I better stick with it for a while longer yet.

    • Stephanie August 16, 2013 at 12:47 #

      Hi J. M
      I’m in the same boat -did you simply input your SSN when creating your book page and send W-9 to amazon?
      Stephanie ;)

  11. Madame Guillotine February 25, 2012 at 19:43 #

    I have my ITIN now and found the whole process surprisingly painless, however I failed to grab hold of my withheld royalties from last year in time so they’ve now passed into the clutches of the IRS.

    My accountant tells me that it is possible to get a refund from HMRC and bypass the IRS altogether – I will report back on my blog if it all works out as that would make the hideous process slightly less terrifying! :)

    Also every time I visit this blog, I want to eat the typewriter as it reminds me of a lovely shiny pink cake.

    • catherineryanhoward February 26, 2012 at 13:45 #

      Glad you like the typewriter. I have promised myself that if I ever get a book deal (!?!) I’m going to buy a pink Royal for myself. Don’t really care whether it works or not; just want to look at it! :-)

      I do believe that someone told me once that if I had paid tax to the US government (I never got back my withholdings from 2010, although they’re not much) I could offset them against any tax I was expected to pay here in Ireland. I won’t find out if this is true until the end of the year, but I do know that if it IS true, I’d much rather do that than chase the IRS for a refund.

      • Madame Guillotine February 26, 2012 at 17:21 #

        Oh I don’t blame you! That is one seriously beauteous typewriter! :)

        Yes, that’s pretty much what I’ve been told, although he seems to think that I’ll get a refund as I haven’t paid enough tax to be offset or something. I’m a bit nervous as the deadline for the IRS is coming up fast but will report straight back if it all works out as I’d much rather deal with HMRC than the IRS, whom I always imagine looking like the Men In Black! :)

  12. mlatimerridley February 26, 2012 at 18:24 #

    Thanks a million for that, David! And great site Catherine, fair dues, you’re a wealth of information! Just as we’ve started to research e-book publishing, we’ve found most of the answers here to questions we hadn’t even known to ask yet! Especially love that some of it is Irish specific! You’re blazing the trail ahead!

  13. Martin J Frankson February 26, 2012 at 20:45 #

    Someday I hope to make avail of this! I need to work on building up royalties first though! An excellent article. The business is really as important as the art for the artist to success in the real world. its not a romantic idea but its true and you and your blog are exemplary at showing that both art and reality can live side by side and work out. Bravo

  14. Claire Ridgway March 2, 2012 at 07:26 #

    Thank you so much. We followed these instructions yesterday and we were on hold for ages in a queue so when the IRS employee mentioned the SS-4 my husband just said “Oh I didn’t think I needed to fill that in”. She just said “That’s ok, I can take the information over the phone” – hurrah!

  15. Jan Hurst-Nicholson (@just4kixbooks) March 5, 2012 at 18:29 #

    This info is like finding the lost treasure!

    I’m preparing myself for the phone call, but having difficulty with the number for South Africa (as below).

    For the first section (after “Article”), you will need the appropriate number for your country. It’s “XII” for Canada, “12” for the United Kingdom, and Ireland is “12” also. You will have to check the number for other countries here (and come back and tell us in the comments to save the next person doing so).

    I clicked on ‘here’ and ‘South Africa’ but after spending ages trawling through all the gumpf (who writes this stuff?) I couldn’t find anything about a number. What section does it come under?

    I did discover that South Africans pay 0% (on page 39).

    Would appreciate any assistance.

    thanks

    • Joanne June 18, 2012 at 13:36 #

      Hi, I think the number of the treaty with south africa is 28.
      Glad to hear about the zero % withholding – where did you find that info? (SA was not listed in the royalties rates table on the link).
      Thanks so much to David and Catherine – I got my EIN number! Now just wading through W-8BEN form :(

  16. Lindy Deveraux March 7, 2012 at 01:44 #

    OMG, I can not thank you Catherine, and also David and all the wonderful bloggers on this site. I am so very new to this and am about to submit some text book type publications to iBooks via iBooks author. I realised yesterday that I would need an EIN so today when researching the topic chanced upon your site. I absorbed your information, called said number and now, less then 24 hours from hearing about it I have an EIN number!!! May the Universe shower you much success and happiness, and many other similar wishes….., for so generously sharing what you have learned! I am on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. So excited I have discovered your website Catherine. What a very inspiring and resourceful young woman you are! Oh, that makes me sound so old – but so I am after all. Again with huge huge thanks to you all. Lindi

    • cmsgardnerblog June 29, 2013 at 09:08 #

      Can you tell me if you found that number for your W8 form for Aus, Lindy?

  17. Jan Hurst-Nicholson (@just4kixbooks) March 7, 2012 at 18:21 #

    Woohoo – Got my number. Can’t thank you enough for the clear instructions, and also about having to spell everything out. He did ask if I had filled in the SS-4 form and I said I believed that it wasn’t necessary. He explained that it was easier otherwise everything had to be spelled out and some people didn’t like doing that. He said it was no problem if I didn’t mind spelling everything. I can imagine if you do not speak English this could be a problem. So now we know the reason for the SS-4.
    The one question he did ask that wasn’t on your list was, “When did you start selling?” so have this ready in case you get asked.
    He didn’t ask for a company name – just asked if I wanted to use my own name and I said yes.
    I was on hold for about 25 mins. I think it must have been around lunch time in the US. If anyone gets through quickly could they please post the time they phoned so others can avoid being put on hold (tidied my desk while waiting :) ) I believe some government depts are open 24 hrs, but not sure about this one.

    Now to tackle the W8-BEN

    • Lindy Deveraux March 7, 2012 at 22:53 #

      I was on hold as well for about twenty minutes as well. I called mid day Australian time, not sure what time that was there as can not find where I read on this blog that the office was located. I had a more mature lady who handled my core and she was robotic. Just stuck to the form questions she had to ask. I usually strike up a conversation but did not in this case and it proceeded incredibly well. My suburb name is Diddillibah!!!! An aboriginal word and recently ranked the most difficult to spell suburb to spell in Australia yet she got it in one. I deliberated using a company I have or my name as a sole trader. She let me think out loud without offering comment and then suggested I could use my name and add the company name as one of the ‘Trading as’ options should it be required in the future. My call talk time took all of ten minutes. She did ask when I had started selling and I said well the books are pending submission but she was not listening at that stage and working out what to do on her computer cause she replied “I suppose we can use todays date, lets see what it does.” Then “Yes, thats fine.”

      The EIN number did include a dash after the first two digits, is that a hyphen on the key board? The iBookstore application form said a valid EIN should not include any spaces or dashes etc. so have just omitted it.

      My response to my application to register as a paid account holder with Apple Bookstore is that I do not tally with the IRS records at the moment. The blurb says that even though the IRS may have given me my EIN to use I may have not yet appeared on the official data base which they cross check with. Will keep you posted.

      I so look forward to having to worry about the W8-BEN as it will mean the book has been accepted and some have actually sold!!

      • connectingwithzoe October 29, 2012 at 06:07 #

        This article is amazing, thank you everyone for your advice.
        Linda, wonder if you can remember the treaty number for Australia? I can’t find it anywhere, many thank, Stacey

        • JB Rowley October 29, 2012 at 07:10 #

          The number for Australia is 12 (Part II Step 10) JB :-)

          • CWZ November 3, 2012 at 01:07 #

            Thank you JB :) Just called, seriously want to hug Catherine, David and everyone.. I first off got a guy that I could barely understand and he told me i needed to fill out an SS-4 because i told him I had a Family Trust, big mistake, should have not mentioned it and just gone with the sole trader! I politely hung up and waited a few minutes wondering whether to try again (worried I might get the same guy!) called again and oh boy, this guy was friendly, quick, just asked me if i would be operating as a soul trader, i said yes, asked name, address, telephone number, verified everything and gave me a number! So I am very excited and very, very grateful, without this blog I can’t imagine what the process would have been like.. Big hugs and thanks… oh and i didn’t get asked the number for Australia after all! :)

            • JB Rowley November 3, 2012 at 09:14 #

              You don’t need the number for Australia for the phone call but you will need it when you fill out the W8-BEN form, which is your next step. JB :-) ( I agree, Catherine and David deserve hugs for this blog.)

              • tamunosaki tom george November 3, 2012 at 09:22 #

                Do i stil hav to fill n send W8-BEN form to createspace.com before my book go live? I tink d form is 4 those who hav already published der book.

                • davidgaughran November 3, 2012 at 09:30 #

                  I haven’t done this for a while – and things may have changed – but I *think* you have to at least have your account open because you need a reference number for the W8-BEN so Createspace know who the hell you are (and your Createspace account number/publisher number serves as that reference number). If they receive a W8-BEN from somebody who hasn’t published with them yet, they might just bin it as they will have no customer to match it up to. In any event, you gain no advantage in submitted the W8-BEN before you publish as it only serves to prevent withholding – something that’s only important after you publish.

                • JB Rowley November 3, 2012 at 19:50 #

                  You don’t need to do it before you publish your book but you will need to do it sometime. At least that is what I understood from reading David’s post.

      • Andy Price December 18, 2012 at 12:51 #

        Just a quick question Lindy. I’m currently at the “not on IRS database” stage of registering an EIN with iTunes. How long did it take for your EIN to be recognised by Apple. They just say it takes some time – how long is some time? I do wish they could make the whole iTunes/iBooks/Newsstand operation easier

      • Brian Igoe February 19, 2014 at 08:40 #

        I guess it’s somewhere on this huge and deeply informative site, but if so I can’t find it. Having got an EIN and submitted it precisely as it was given to be (which included a dash after the first two digits) I was told by Amazon that there shouldn’t be a dash and by ITunes store that it had failed and wasn’t on the IRS records – yet. Are these common problems?
        Thanks
        Brian Igoe (brian@igoe.eu)

  18. Bev Robitai March 8, 2012 at 20:41 #

    I love how the universe sends you what you need when you’re on the right track. This advice comes in perfect time for my international marketing drive – thank you so much for these clear and comprehensive instructions. We’ve been given a map of the minefield. Forward to riches beyond the wildest dreams of avarice!

  19. Rick Grant March 9, 2012 at 00:52 #

    How odd.

    This morning I put “Research U-S tax law for non-residents re:ebooks” on my ToDo list.

    This afternoon this article just popped up in my Zite! news feed. Quite astonishing.

    But a question if I might. I have a sole proprietorship company registered to me in Canada. If I get an EIN using that company name can I still register with Amazon, Smashwords etc with my own personal name and that EIN or must I use the company name?

  20. Christopher Marcus March 9, 2012 at 04:12 #

    I don’t believe a word of what you write, Dave – or Catherine. This is the US we are talking about – one of the most advanced nations on Earth, not some third world banana republic in which things are either arbitrary or insanely bureaucratic. :-)

    Very Gratefully Yours,

    Chris

  21. Tony James Slater March 10, 2012 at 19:50 #

    YES!!! I did this. All thanks to David, who guided me through the process. I was lucky enough to manage it on the first go, no-one even asked me for any arcane form-filling-and-faxing. Which is good, as where I’d find a fax machine these days is anyone’s guess. I did hang around on hold for 40 minutes, which made me glad I was using Skype to make the call (with my headphones in, as I was forewarned about their no speakerphone rule). Once I got to speak to someone, the process took about five minutes. Hooray! Now if I can just find where I wrote that number down…

  22. Linda March 13, 2012 at 20:18 #

    I tried back in 2008 to get an ITIN number and after several months of paperwork, phone calls, visits to the US Embassy with official documents and then phone calls to the US, they said a big fat ‘NO, you cannot have an ITIN’ and I gave up.

    So, thank you, thank you, thank you for this information, it couldn’t have come at a better time. I was fortunate, my accountant was able to reclaim the tax paid each year but now that this little loophole is ending I was wondering what would happen.

    Having said that, I wouldn’t ring after 6ish from the UK as I was on hold for over an hour …..! But, the lovely lady in the IRS at the other end was very helpful and really made me laugh too.

    • Linda April 2, 2012 at 12:54 #

      Just a quick update: I just received the actual printed document from the IRS confirming the number and the registration in the post today. Does that mean I actually exist or am I still just a number :-) Thanks again Catherine and David, without this brilliant post it wouldn’t have happened.

  23. Maxi March 23, 2012 at 16:19 #

    Can I just clarify something? David says about having to publish through your own company, but as it’s an Ebook, I don’t quite understand. I’ve published it myself, under my own name with Amazon and Smashwords and I’m registered with the tax man here under my own name. Is that enough? Sorry if I’m being dim!

    • catherineryanhoward March 23, 2012 at 16:25 #

      David can correct me but my understand you have to have a business (or pretend you do, anyway). If it’s just you and you haven’t technically created a publishing company (you can have a publishing company and still publish through Smashwords, etc.) then I think you’d have to register as a sole trader.

      • davidgaughran March 23, 2012 at 16:29 #

        I’m the worst person on tax stuff, so you should really check this up, but I’ve been told by others that tried this that they didn’t need to have a company set up, and just told the customer service person that they were publishing everything in their own name and that was fine. It’s worth a phone call. I suppose the worst they can say is “Sorry, you need to have a company.”

    • Sarah November 5, 2012 at 14:36 #

      I had the same thought but checked with HMRC here. If you are registered with them as a Sole Trader (ie you do a tax return) that is enough

  24. Zelah Meyer March 24, 2012 at 11:03 #

    Did anyone ask them whether (as a non-US Citizen) you need to file a US tax return once you get your EIN?

    From what I’ve read, it looks as if you do, but I can’t find anything that makes this clear. So, if anyone asked about this and got a response when they rang for their EIN (or at some other time) then I’d love to know!

    • catherineryanhoward March 24, 2012 at 11:41 #

      I was told once that if you have an ITIN or an EIN you should file a 0.00 tax return or you’re entry to the US (on vacation) might be compromised. But THEN I spoke to someone who actually does tax returns for non-US authors, etc. and he said that this really is a scare story, and that since the IRS have far bigger fish to free than self-publishers earning e-book royalties, there was no need.

      • Jan Hurst-Nicholson (@just4kixbooks) April 6, 2012 at 21:03 #

        Hi Catherine,
        Is your tax consultant available to help sort out the 1040NB we have to fill in to get a refund from the IRS :)

        • catherineryanhoward April 6, 2012 at 21:53 #

          Hi Jan

          As far as I know, TaxBack.com provide two services for refunds: (1) they get you to tell them some things, sign a couple of forms and scan your 1042s (which each company send you showing how much they’ve withheld) and then you sit back and relax; for this they take a percentage of the refund or (2) they prepare the forms for you but you send them to the IRS. That’s a flat fee, I think $75-100. All the info is on their site under “Artists->Royalties” I think. Unfortunately I don’t know about doing it DIY–I couldn’t face it after the stress of the ITIN! :-)

          • Jan Hurst-Nicholson (@just4kixbooks) April 8, 2012 at 17:48 #

            Hi Catherine,
            Thanks. My refund is only about $300 (but that’s quite a lot in SA Rands). I’ll have a look at the website you suggest. Perhaps we could ask for a ‘group’ fee :)

  25. Barbara Scott Emmett March 26, 2012 at 12:40 #

    Brilliant! I’m going to have a go at this. One question though – when you say set up a company does this mean it has to be registered or is it enough to have ISBNs in the company name (which I have)?

    And if it does need to be registered with the UK govt agency does this mean I have to file tax returns every year? (even if I don’t earn enough to put myself over the tax allowance.)

    If anyone knows the answer to these questions I’d be unbelievably grateful!

    • Zelah Meyer March 26, 2012 at 13:34 #

      As I understand it, if you’re in the UK and earning an income (or attempting to) at any level that’s not through a company paying you via PAYE, (i.e. if you’re doing more than just selling a couple of things on ebay on a personal basis – a bit like selling your old bike in the back of the newspaper in the old days) then you need to be registered as self-employed and filing a tax return for it.

      If you have a day job then you file a return for the additional income, if it’s your soul income then you can fill in a tax return as a sole trader without incorporating anything (that’s what I plan to do for now, I won’t bother with a limited company unless I hit the big time!) I’ll be me ‘trading as’ *name of publishing company* and will buy my ISBN numbers in the name of that publishing company.

      You can get free workshops from HMRC on how to fill in the forms & on self employment in general.

      If it’s your only ‘job’ then you would pay class 2 NI (about £2.50 a week/£130 a year – which you can re-claim if you earn under a certain amount, or you can ask for an exemption if you know in advance you won’t earn over the threshold.) You pay class 4 as part of your tax return if you earn enough.

      More info here: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/selfemployed/register-selfemp.htm

      http://www.smarta.com/advice/accounting-and-tax/tax/when-do-you-become-self-employed

      Good luck. :)

      • Zelah Meyer March 26, 2012 at 13:35 #

        ‘sole income’ even … sorry, trying to type with a toddler on my lap!

        • Barbara Scott Emmett May 8, 2012 at 23:26 #

          Thanks for the info. To make things more complicated I’m actually retired and on a pension!

          • Barbara Scott Emmet May 9, 2012 at 14:29 #

            Yeehah! Just over ten minutes including waiting time and I got it! Operator was a little stiff and bossy but she didn’t even ask if I had a company. Can it be this easy?

      • Fi September 14, 2014 at 19:20 #

        Thank you SO much for this – this confirms exactly what I was unsure about: whether I had to register as self-employed first in the UK (I hadn’t so far as I’m miles off paying taxes, so I just ring the Inland Revenue each year to state how much I earned, just for my own peace of mind), and also my worries about how much NI might be, especially if I don’t get enough work immediately.

        I will now register as self-employed over here before going through the procedure for the EIN. Thanks a million.

    • declanconner April 25, 2012 at 13:58 #

      You don’t need to be a LTD company in the UK, which is costly and requires an accountant to file documents and complete annual accounts. Okay, if you your earning Megga money then it may be worth it.

      As a sole trader, you will need to account for your income and expenses by filling in a self employed tax form every year. There is a simple form to fill in to ask the tax office to send your these forms. If you earn less than 15,000 pounds per year gross from your self publishing, then you don’t need to submit detailed accounts. You simply state the gross income less the gross expenses to arrive at your taxable income. Many new businesses don’t make a profit after expenses, so don’t be frightened of showing a loss which you can carry forward to the next trading year. If this is your only income and the net amount is less than the current tax code allows, then you will pay no tax. If you have income from a job and yourr income uses all your tax allownce, then any profit from selling bokks will be fully taxed at the current rate. You will however have to pay nat ins as a self employed person. The last time I looked it was 2.50 per week, although you can in some circumstances claim exemption.

      In the UK you don’t need to register a trading name, you simply state Joe Bloggs t/a Joe blogs publishing, or whatever you decide. Just be careful to search the name if you decide on a trading name (Which you don’t have to.) The last thing you want to do is to be sued if you T/A Harper Collins.

      I am not an accountant, but I have been self employed in the UK for many many years in the past, but as I no longer live in the UK you would be advised to make sure what I have said is current.

      If any one reading this is from a country that doesn’t have a tax treaty, I would be interested in finding out if you can still claim an EIN. (Which I doubt)

      One word of warning, in all the euphoria of asking for an EIN. I have a feeling that you may have to file accounts in the US, or at least some form of annual return? If anyone finds out when the dust has settled, let me know.

  26. Sean McMahon (@Sean_Macca) March 29, 2012 at 14:44 #

    A big, big THANK YOU! to both Catherine & David for this invaluable information. I’ve just spent a whole five minutes (with a 10 min wait) claiming my EIN. I owe yer a pint!

  27. Phil van Wulven (@philwrite) April 3, 2012 at 20:21 #

    Woohoo! Done & dusted! One hour on hold – oh ok, maybe 55 minutes – and 10 minutes with the guy. He asked if I was familiar with their SS – 4 Form, and I said, no, but I understand everything can be done over the phone, and if so, I would prefer to do everything required this way. He replied that, yes, it can be done on the phone, so away we went. Careful spelling of name & address, sole proprietor, & so on. He put me on hold for (literally) a couple of minutes, came back, checked the spelling of my name etc again (one extra l in my first name), then gave me the number.
    Thanks for the excellent info.
    I did spend $60 to register here in Ontario as a sole proprietor publishing business, but that was probably not essential, because he didn’t ask for any details except for the name & address, no business number etc.

  28. Jan Hurst-Nicholson (@just4kixbooks) April 6, 2012 at 20:59 #

    Now that KDP have received my W8 BEN and won’t be taking tax off my royalties, I need to try getting a refund for tax already paid to the IRS. KDP can’t help with this. I was told I need to fill in form 1040NR

    http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1040nr.pdf

    It’s pages long and looks quite complicated. Has anyone actually received a refund? Is there a simple phone call that can be made?

  29. kirstie April 10, 2012 at 17:33 #

    we got the ein no trouble in January but then thought maybe what my husband needed being a self-employed Spanish ilustrator was the itin (rejection arrived today for not having seen the bit about exception and treaty number). Does anybody know what the consequences could be if he uses the ein? Is there any further paperwork or tax files to be sent in in years to come? Are there any differences for those with an itin and with an ein? The letter from the irs says the “employer identification number” will identify you….even if you have no employees. Have all of the above who applied for an ein set up a business entity? thank you for any clarification….do we apply again or set up as Spanish sole trader or something?

  30. Rachel Sung April 11, 2012 at 02:34 #

    Wow….thank you soooooooo much for the info //kiss//…. that is EXTREMELY helpful !! I have been seeking the answer online for quite a while and still had no clue how to get the “tax ID”…this article is the only one which clearly provides steps to teach you how to obtain this “tax ID” !!! thank you thank you thank you……

    one question here….does this applies to incorporated company as well (which I am currently one of the owner) instead of sole proprietor?

  31. Rachel Sung April 11, 2012 at 02:37 #

    and one more question….so when I go through the process over the phone to get the EIN, I can go to Apple Connect and create the paid account right away? Should I wait for the official confirmation from IRS???

  32. Rachel Sung April 11, 2012 at 20:01 #

    Got my EIN today…^^….the precious 9 digit numbers !!!

    BTW, the representative asked me about the accounting closing month of the company?? (I told her that I am the owner of my business, which is true, me and my husband do own an actual start up business in BC, Canada.) I told her that my business is a start up and I am not sure about the accounting closing month. XD She did not make it difficult on me though. She then asked the purpose of the business. At last, she told me the number assigned to our business !!!

    Before ending the conversation, she told me about filing report, some kind like that. She said I will get the report in 2 weeks and it is important to file it. What is that actually? Can anyone tell me about that?

  33. Rachel Sung April 11, 2012 at 20:19 #

    Sorry for so many messages/comments/questions in line …

    here is one more doubt….Today when I called IRS, she asked me what is this EIN for and I told her it was for selling eBooks, and I forgot to mention it is for compliance with withholding. Does it matter if I did not mention this EIN was for compliance with withholding? She then asked me if I have any employee in States and I said no.

    So the number I have is actually for compliance with withholding rite? even I did not mention this to the representative?!

  34. jilljmarsh April 23, 2012 at 18:23 #

    Thanks so much, David and Catherine. A six-minute wait, five minute chat and voilà! EIN in hand. Just in case anyone else anyone is applying from Switzerland, the Article number is 12. Really appreciate your generosity in sharing this information.

  35. Per Holbo April 28, 2012 at 09:03 #

    Denmark: Section VIII – Income Tax withholding: 0% – Income Type: Royalties

  36. Simon T May 1, 2012 at 18:27 #

    Brilliant advice. Couldn’t get through early in April, but I think they might have been busy with an impending tax deadline. Tried again at the start of May, got through quickly and got it sorted. The woman tried to get rid of me by saying that I needed to fill in form SS4. I held my ground and said “I’ve been told I can do it over the phone.” At that point, she dropped the SS4 blockade and let me through! Gave her the details and she gave me the EIN. Many thanks for this help.

  37. jakk54 May 5, 2012 at 16:20 #

    Interesting post. So what actually happens with tax? Do you have to pay tax to the local tax office (ie in your country of residence, where your company is incorporated)? Or do the IRS automatically make a deduction, with no impact on your tax where you live.

    • catherineryanhoward May 5, 2012 at 16:25 #

      Once you get 100% of your earnings, you should treat your e-book income like any other income and pay tax on it accordingly in your own country.

      • jakk54 May 5, 2012 at 16:28 #

        Thanks, Catherine, that’s cleared the issue up for me.

      • jakk54 May 26, 2012 at 10:35 #

        Thanks, Catherine, I appreciate the feedback.

  38. Rachel Sung May 9, 2012 at 03:51 #

    I got two letters from US authority, one is from IRS, confirming the EIN, also includes the tax related information (form 1120F to fill out) and one is from EFTPS, sending me the PIN for online access of EFTPS. Do I just ignore it since I will be filling out W-8BEN tax withholding form while applying for Apple iBookstore pay account?

    Thanx in advance….

    • catherineryanhoward May 10, 2012 at 15:56 #

      I really don’t know anything about what you’re describing. All I got was my ITIN number, which I stuck on the W-8BEN forms, and I was done. Good luck!

  39. Steven O'Connor May 15, 2012 at 15:11 #

    Thank you for this, I am very grateful. Twenty minutes waiting on call hold to get through to the IRS in Philadelphia and less than five minutes talking to a disinterested lady when she answered. But what do I care, I have my EIN!

    • Steven O'Connor May 19, 2012 at 06:45 #

      I would also like to add, for the EIN phone call there was no discussion about needing to be a company. So, for those of you who might be worried about – I din’t think you need to be. I just said I was trading under my name.

  40. Diane Tibert May 20, 2012 at 02:34 #

    I was preparing to go through the process of getting a SSN when I stumbled upon another website that said I need only an EIN. I did what the other person did and had my number in 16 mintues (that includes 5 minutes on hold). I mailed my W-8BEN, but didn’t include the article number and percentage in section 10. The sample I followed hadn’t included that. I assume then I will have them rejected and I’ll have to mail them again. Darn.

    I’ll keep the information you noted for that section and use it if the forms are returned. Thanks for spreading the word about EIN. It will ease the frustration of many writers. By the way, I did create my own company to market my books. The lady on the phone asked when my company was created. I had the info, so there was no further discussion, but I did wonder why she didn’t ask for the name of my company.

    It really didn’t matter. I have my number and that’s all that matters.

    I know writers who won’t bother with this process and are willing to give up their 30% for taxes. I’ve asked them if they’re satisfied making 30 cents on the dollar (40% to retailer/30% to IRS) which translates to $300 for every $1,000, and they’re find with it. I just shake my head.

  41. osierpublishing May 21, 2012 at 09:58 #

    OK, Got the EIN, mailed off the W8-Ben forms. 20 mins, easy. Thank you so much for this.
    Any idea what happens to tax already witheld? Will that just get added back in or will I have to do something else to reclaim that?
    And, like Steven O’Connor, no requirement to have a company name – but I did have to declare that I was self employed and a sole trader/proprietor trading under my own name.

    • directresponse May 29, 2012 at 16:52 #

      Same here, based in Canada.

      Got my EIN number over the phone. Its a lot easier and less wait than going through all that ITIN number stuff which is a pain and going to cost you a fair penny. When all you need is this EIN number

      Just follow his instructions to the letter.

      Next step for me is the W8-Ben Forms, hope that goes well.

      At least when my book comes out I wont have to think about if they are going to withhold.

  42. Mark Swain May 26, 2012 at 21:27 #

    Hi Catherine
    Very good blog. Wondering what you think / know about using Apple i-books Author?
    M

    • catherineryanhoward May 27, 2012 at 19:16 #

      I don’t think anything because I can’t use it. I think you have to be a US resident. Anyway, there’s really no need. Smashwords cover all major retailers who aren’t Kindle.

      • Mark Swain May 28, 2012 at 09:13 #

        Thanks Catherine. I can see Smashwords is a nice neat solution but I want to do stuff like putting photos in if it’s possible without mega-stress. i-books Author seems to offer this.
        Don’t know if you’ve thought about Kindle Fire implications. I’m wondering how well books formatted for Kindle will transfer onto the Fire and how easily it will deal with images. Could be a minefield.

        • lousouth November 19, 2013 at 01:37 #

          Hi Mark – I’m about to publish an ebook I’ve designed using iBooks Author (which I love, so visual and easy to work with). How did you go getting your ebook on the iBooks store, did you have to wait long for them to approve it? Was it ok entering the EIN where they ask for a US Tax ID? Any help or advice appreciated!
          Great blog post Catherine and David, and awesome comments!

      • directresponse May 31, 2012 at 04:07 #

        Interested catherine if once you have your ITIN or EIN ( i have my EIN ) this can be used for others places beyond amazon, createspace and smashwords, for example ( ibooks, barnes and noble etc )?

        • catherineryanhoward May 31, 2012 at 14:41 #

          Your ITIN/EIN is the same as a social security number or any other tax identification number. It’s unique to you and you use it for every company you’re dealing with.

          • Rachel Hadley June 8, 2014 at 18:21 #

            Hi Catherine, does that mean I can also use it on sites like zazzle and cafepress for creating photo products too as well as book promotional products?

            • catherineryanhoward June 9, 2014 at 10:39 #

              I would assume so. It’s not specific to e-books or anything. It’s just like any other tax identification number.

    • Lindy Deveraux May 27, 2012 at 22:51 #

      Hi Mark. Catherine’s site has been instrumental in getting me started when I used iBooks Author in delivering an enhanced iBook to iTunes. i wanted to publish directly rather than use an intermediary just for control. The process means I can now do everything with iBooks Author and it is a wonderful App. I can not compare as I have only ever been a Mac user, first mac classic in 1989! Do not know the first thing about PC’s. Your question is huge tho. Is it in respect to formatting using it, publishing to Apple etc. To get an Apple Connect Account you simply have to get your EIN as per Catherines instructions and you are good to go. I am an Apple Technician so had a similar account which meant the loops were less. Best of luck. L

      • Mark Swain May 28, 2012 at 09:07 #

        Hi Lindy
        Thanks for replying. This was exactly what I wanted to know. I was a Mac user for years (worked for them 90-92) then forced into world of PCs. Semi-retired and free to chose I’m back to a Mac & re-learning. Like you, whilst Smashwords seem very useful, I feel I’d like to have full control over the i-pad format. Getting an EIN is a hassle but probably easier than most non-US citizens think. I may still use Smashwords to cover other platforms apart from Kindle. The thing is my first book (just gone to trad printers for paper version) is an illustrated travel book and therefore would benefit from full scope of i-pad potential. i-books Author on first look seems to offer that, but I was concerned that it might not be something non-US residents could use. You’ve put my mind at rest.
        And thanks again Catherine. Great blog (the best).
        Cheers
        Mark

      • directresponse May 31, 2012 at 04:09 #

        Lindy, I thought smashwords dealt with distributing to ibook on itunes? Do i have to go there and sign up too for a regular novel or is it only for graphic novels and image novels?

        • lindigab June 1, 2012 at 03:45 #

          Yes, I am sure they do. And if you have a regular novel then follow Catherines instructions all the way. Unfortunately there is no equivalent platform on Kindle etc yet for an enhanced deliverable i.e. with video, audio and multi-media, hard to call it a book really but until they find a word it is an ‘enhanced eBook’. As mine was such a book and it could go no where except iTunes at this stage, and I qualified for an iTunes Connect account with my brand new EIN, thanks to Catherine, plus other things, it was just easier to publish it myself. iBooks Author was only released end Jan there are not that many people familiar with it so I am now a formatting geek too by necessity. There was little smash words could do for me that I could not do myself so published directly. It is a very limited market, only those with iPads and ibooks 2 on it can even download the book so all new territory but wide distribution was not my initial goal. Until Kindle and the others have an equivalent platform for Multi-media books there is only the one outlet. Catherine’s formula holds true for all other book types and most of her suggestions can also be applied to my situation just in a narrower way!

          • alltentoes June 1, 2012 at 18:48 #

            Hi Lindy
            That’s very helpful. I downloaded a copy of iBooks Author from the App Store a month or so ago to see what it was. I looked at Apple’s promo video on YouTube. Wow!
            My book, print version currently at the printers, has lots of colour plates and maps. As a travel book it would really benefit from some interactive widgets and I felt it was a pity that Smashwords don’t allow for this. With Kindle (so far the Kindle Fire not launched in UK) it’s also limited. I will probably still publish a cheaper Smashwords version but less ‘singing and dancing.’
            I just took the trouble to call the IRS last night and got my EIN. Fab! All done in half an hour. Thanks Catherine for posting the instructions and David Gaughran for the useful update. It worked for me. I had thought it would be tough and kept putting it off. This now means I can now go direct to the i-books store with a nice interactive full colour e-book for the i-pad.
            Many thanks for your excellent advice. Self-publishers seem to be at the decent end of the human spectrum, thank goodness. I find the same with cycle tourists.

      • roy February 1, 2013 at 02:48 #

        G’day,
        i got my EIN, but now i have a different format. converting my well formatted book from PDF to EPub destroyes all the formatting, could you please let me know how you got around it.
        thanks

  43. Barry Tighe May 29, 2012 at 15:02 #

    Success! It all went axactly as your instructions said it would. I have my EIN number and am about to fill out my W8-BEN form. Fantastic!
    Couple of points. Don’t call the IRS on a Monday or Friday if you can help it, as they take much longer to answer the phone. I called on a wednesday and had to hanf on (long-distance) for about twenty minutes.Also, tell them it is for your W8-BEn as this makes them happy to give you your EIN.
    Apsrt from that, thanks to all at CH dot com!

  44. Rosemary Showell June 6, 2012 at 20:09 #

    I am now your new number one fan. My book is not live yet and I have an E.I.N. I phoned the IRS at 7pm our time. The line was answered immediately by a lovely lady, who when I explained what I was being asked for, by Createspace, told me I needed an EIN not an ITIN. She asked if I had the S… form I said “no”, she said “no problem” Twenty minutes later I had an E.I.N. She even took time to ask me about the novel. Thank you so much for your generosity of spirit that takes the time and trouble to reach out to help writers struggling with the system and a big thank you to all you bloggers who tried it and let us still trying know that it works.
    I have just realised there are a lot of nice people out there. xx

  45. Zelah Meyer June 13, 2012 at 15:35 #

    Being someone who likes to double check that I’m doing the right thing when it comes to tax, etc. – I wrote to the London office of the IRS to check about the need for a tax return.
    I wrote to them at the end of April and got a reply back today – it’s my letter with the answers written on it, no signature or covering letter, so I’m not sure how ‘official’ the reply would count as being!
    Anyway, here are my questions and their answers (n.b. – this was with regard to UK taxpayers but presumably would also hold true for people in countries that also have a zero rate of tax under the treaty.):
    Q – If someone obtains an ITIN and uses that to stop witholding of royalties under the tax treaty, do they have to file a tax return in the US for the zero tax that is due there?
    A – No.
    Q – If someone obtains an EIN and uses that to stop witholding of royalties under the tax treaty, do they have to file a tax return in the US for the zero tax that is due there?
    A – No.
    So, there you go. I know most people were working on the assumption that tax returns weren’t needed anyway – but I thought I’d share the answers for anyone else who was unsure about the meaning of the wording on their website!

    • Andreas July 30, 2012 at 11:09 #

      Thank you so much for clearing this, Zelah! That’s a big relief for me. I’m gonna call the IRS today. I’ve been holding it off until I could find the answer that you just gave me.

      • Susan Ross September 13, 2012 at 19:15 #

        Same for me. Thank you so much.

    • Jan Budkowski August 7, 2013 at 19:09 #

      Thanks, Zelah. I got our company’s EIN a while ago, but forgot about whether tax returns would be needed… senility strikes again! I can relax now.

  46. thefridgewhisperer June 18, 2012 at 16:32 #

    My heartfelt thanks to David for his guest post on IRS and non-resident authors’ withholding taxes.

    His “One final caveat: this only applies to self-published authors who are publishing through their own company (and that company must be set up outside the US). While the IRS doesn’t appear to ask for proof that you have actually established your own publishing company, I’m sure there are all sorts of reasons why you shouldn’t commence this process until you actually have.” … for me, needs further clarification.

    I publish under The Fridge Whisperer Cookbook Series Inc. (an incorporated company) and David says in his caveat, (I paraphrase) Way-to-go!

    But in his “Cliff’s Notes” instructions to completing W-8BEN he states tick the “INDIVIDUAL” box in Part 3 (Type of beneficial owner) of the form.

    This leads me to think I should be completing Part 1 “Name of Individual or Organization that is the Beneficial Owner” using my own name, not the name of the corporation.

    Can someone further explain these two fields?

    I am assuming the EIN name needs to match the “Beneficial Owner” name on the W-8BEN form.

    Help!

    And thanks!

    Deb Rankine,
    Ontario, Canada

    • Sarah June 18, 2012 at 16:55 #

      I got my EIN, and filled in the W8Ben form under my own name. All my tax details in the UK, and my business account are in my name – with the added thing that I’m “Trading as Osier Publishing” But it’s just me, and all in my own name. The IRS, Amazon and Smashwords all seem happy with that.

    • Steven O'Connor June 18, 2012 at 22:04 #

      Deb, while it’s just my opinion, I did get the distinct impression when I went through this process that it was equally valid for individuals and companies. Also, in the support info provided by Amazon, I recall they stated the EIN is for companies and individuals. One imagines that would also be the case for the W-8Ben.

      Perhaps check out the Amazon info to see if you glean some further insight? While the Amazon stuff is not as useful as what’s here, there was some stuff. (in fact, I think the company comment is probably the only unclear thing here.) Hope some of that helps.

      • Marco July 10, 2012 at 05:28 #

        Hello All, I need help with something and I hope someone can clarify it for me because it’s been eating away at me!

        I want to confirm what Steven is saying. If you visit this site:

        https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help?topicId=A1VDYJ32T5D3U4

        You will see the following:

        “Information on how to apply for a TIN with the IRS is available at the IRS website. For non-US persons, a TIN may be an EIN (for individuals and businesses) or an ITIN (for individuals only)”

        So it appears that you do NOT need to be a company to obtain an EIN. You CAN be an individual!

        But this is where things can get iffy. If I have an EIN as an individual, do I need a business license to self-publish on Amazon? I have heard that a business license is not required by Amazon, but this confuses me. After all, I will have to file taxes on my income with the Canadian government, doesn’t that mean I need a business license?

        And if I obtain an EIN as an individual, do I need to list the Publisher when I publish my book on Amazon?

        Thanks so much for any help!

  47. Nord-Jan Vermeer June 22, 2012 at 15:53 #

    Dear David and Catherine,
    thank you, thank you, thank you and thank you!

    I have been postponing getting a US tax-ID for a long time, but Thursday evening I stumbled upon your blog and now it’s Friday afternoon and I just got my EIN!
    Everything went as described: there was this very nice lady asking me all the questions and after 12 minutes she said “I’ll be away, please hold, I come back to you”. She did, after 3 very long minutes, and now she started spelling. And within 18 minutes of calling, she gave me my EIN. I am stunned and so happy.

    Just 1 question: do I need to fill a W8-BEN for the Apple iBookstore?
    And for Part II, 10: the number for The Netherlands is 13, I think.

    Thanks again (4x),
    Nord

    • Martyn V. Halm July 16, 2012 at 22:29 #

      I had to call three times, but then again, I called on a Monday… the first two times I hung up after a 12 minute wait, but the third time I got my EIN without a problem. The IRS rep, Mike, asked me if I had the SS-4 in front of me, but I told him I was told I could do it all over the phone. He explained that he needed quite a bit of information, but I assured him I could spell everything out to him. What I had done in advance, was write my details in a word document with NATO spelling – Martyn = Mike-Alpha-Romeo-Tango-Yankee-November, so I could just read it out loud to him. (This worked great, although I had to explain to him that my last name is Halm, not Van Halm, just like Beethoven is ‘Beethoven, Ludwig van’, not ‘Van Beethoven, Ludwig’. One of the reasons I use Martyn V. Halm as my author name.)
      As to W8BEN, Part II, 10: For the Netherlands, the tax treaty article number is 13, Withholding rate 0%, type of income ‘royalties’, and reasons ‘Permanent Resident of The Netherlands’.

      Now I just have to get the account information of the US companies that will sell my books and sent them a W8BEN…

  48. Mike June 26, 2012 at 15:07 #

    If you don’t bother with claiming the withholdings back I am assuming you wouldn’t have to pay tax again on it in the UK? For some paying 30% beats what they pay now

  49. Graham Aitchison June 27, 2012 at 05:35 #

    Thank you so much Catherine for this wonderful advice – my only issue is trying to find the number for New Zealand – I’ve trawled through all of those documents and only emerged with my head successfully tied in a knot – if anyone is able to shed some light on this for me I would be very grateful!!

    • Graham Aitchison June 28, 2012 at 02:49 #

      Actually, scratch that – I managed to figure it out. The country number is simply the number of the article in the treaty document that speaks about royalties. The article in the NZ treaty document that spoke on royalties was article 12 so that was the number that I put in. I received my EIN number via phone last night and I sent off the form this morning. Couldn’t have done it without your help Catherine you rule!!!!!

  50. Issam June 27, 2012 at 16:30 #

    Very interesting. My wonder is what if your country does not have a treaty with USA? shall one still apply? or he/she is doomed to pay the 30%?

    My country is Lebanon and I donot see it mentioned among the treaty countries.

    What if someone forms a US company and get an ITIN…. will there be withholding for US?

    Thanks

    • Gabi July 3, 2012 at 16:51 #

      Cathrine you rock!!! Thank you so much for your step by step instructions – without your help I would have never accomplished this task. I’ve received my EIN within 10 minutes on the phone and filled in the W-8BEN in a breeze. The Article Number for Germany is 12 too! I’ve just sent out a letter to Amazon KDP. Keep up your good work!

    • Julio February 20, 2013 at 13:28 #

      Hey, Issam. I was wondering where I can find the number of my country. And if it is needed to get the EIN or if it is needed just after, when you send the W8 BEN form?

      Because I live in Argentina. And I think there is no treaty with the US.

      I would like to know what you finally did.

      Thank you.

      • Licuc August 5, 2014 at 16:38 #

        Julio, until a few days ago I discovered this tread, although I have been reading this blog for a while. Anyway, to the point, right now I live in Colombia, country that doesn’t have taxes treaty with US. The alternative I’m considering seriously to sell my ebooks is Ganxy, it seems easy to use and has some positive reviews.

        I hope you find this info useful.

  51. Jarrah July 6, 2012 at 00:43 #

    Thank you so much for this post!
    It took me 5 minutes to get my EIN in Australia.
    Much appreciated. Greatest post ever! ;)

  52. Rebecca Phillips July 6, 2012 at 18:50 #

    I sincerely love you for making this blog post. Took me 5 mins to get my EIN here in Canada. On the first try I got a cranky lady to demanded I have an SS-4 form. I called right back and got a nice, helpful lady to barely even asked any questions.

    Thanks you SO much!

    • rebeccawritesya July 6, 2012 at 18:52 #

      Jeez, I was so excited I made a bunch of typos in that comment. “Who”, not “to”, and “Thank you so much” not “Thanks you so much.” I swear, I’m a writer. LOL

  53. Blues July 11, 2012 at 12:54 #

    Hi there, I’m from Ireland and it’s great to see all this information carefully layed out for us to follow. One thing I need to be clear on is, if I am asked about the company I’m getting this EIN for, can I get away with using the trading name I have put on my ISBN forms? Or is it really essential to register a company? Or might it be best just to say I’m an individual seeking an EIN as a self publisher? Much appreciated for any help.

    • catherineryanhoward July 11, 2012 at 13:08 #

      I think it’s best if you stick to your own name, but I’m not an expert and I wouldn’t be 100% sure. If I was doing it myself thought that’s what I’d do.

      • Blues July 11, 2012 at 16:02 #

        Thank you very much Catherine

    • rebeccawritesya July 11, 2012 at 14:12 #

      The nice lady I talked to asked me about “my company” and I told her I self-published under my own name. She said okay and that was it! She didn’t care. Right on the W-8BEN form it has an option for “individual”. It seems you do NOT need a company to get an EIN.

      I mailed my W-8BENs on Monday with my spankin’ new EIN on them. This whole thing was so easy, I couldn’t believe it.

      • Blues July 11, 2012 at 16:03 #

        That is very helpful Rebecca. Thank you.

  54. ejshames July 11, 2012 at 15:32 #

    WOW!!! I could KISS you!!!! Thank you thank you thank you!!! ( not only to Catherine, but to ALL The other people who responded, that made this process so easy)!!

    I was nervous to call after hearing some of the stories.. ( ha ha. called before I scrolled down far enough to read the ‘this was easy’ comments!)

    Had my headphones in place.. but the nice young man on the other side of the phone said I needed to get off my speaker phone.. I mentioned I was not on speaker phone. but was on Google talk!! ( Do laptops count as speaker phones if you have your headphones on? )

    Anyhow, all went SUPER easy and well.. He was simple, respectful, and lovely. Not a robot kind of voice like some have experienced… No conversation, just straight to the point, which was fine.

    I did give my home phone number when he asked what number I was calling on.. ( At first I was surprised and said it was google.. there was no number. When he suggested I call back on my phone, I quickly asked if I could just give my home phone number and he said yes. )

    Any how.. all easy peasy. Now I have my number..!!!

    So I now need to fill out the other form before I can publish, right?

    Thanks again!!
    Elissa Joy

  55. Pauly July 12, 2012 at 10:54 #

    Great post – thank you!

    Did anyone receive follow up mail from the IRS, say a number of weeks after obtaining an EIN, requesting proof of no U.S. business activity in previous years? I read about this at another blog and I don`t know if that is a standard request.

  56. Nemo Euler July 12, 2012 at 12:20 #

    Hello Catherine…
    I’d like to add a comment and some info to the excellent: “Non-US Self-Publisher? Tax Issues Don’t Need to be Taxing” thread; but, I can’t seem to find a link for adding a new comment – only links for replying to existing. Is the thread closed? Or what do I do?
    Thx…
    Best regards,
    Nemo Euler

    euler@nemoeuler.com

    nemoeuler.com
    amazon/authors/nemoeuler

  57. nemoeuler July 12, 2012 at 12:46 #

    Oh I see… all the way down at the bottom :-p

    Well, thank you for your’s and David’s excellent info on the EIN matter!

    Denmark: 12 (paragraph number) 0% (tax rate),
    for Part II, 10.

    My first full-size novel, ‘LUCK’, is emerging on Amazon these days, as both e-book and paperback – very exciting… so I’m getting my letters to the publishers, with the notorious FW8BEN form inside, mailed tomorrow – yay!
    When the dust has settled somewhat, I might ask you to review the book, if that’s okay with you, but I’ll return to that request – never believed it was so time-consuming to get a book ready, polished and published! has taken me well over 1½ year.

    Cheers and good luck to all you authors…

    • nemoeuler July 12, 2012 at 12:51 #

      What’s this now… my image isn’t showing in the above post! and I’m logged in to Worldpress – problemsproblemsproblems

    • catherineryanhoward July 12, 2012 at 12:53 #

      Thanks for your comment and good luck with your book, but as you’ll see on my Contact page, I don’t review self-published books.

  58. Blues July 13, 2012 at 16:57 #

    I finally got it done. I’m such a nervous person so there was a lot of anxiety in the lead up. The woman on the end was very serious and humourless but I feel for people who have to deal with calls all day. It can be painful. Anyway, before she quoted my number she told me I would get some mail in the post from them but said a whole load of other things I couldn’t grasp as she said them so fast. Is there something I have to do now as well? Or now that she gave me my number, that’s it regarding the IRS? I know I must submit the W8BEN form to createspace who I’m dealing with but I hope I dont miss any other important detail. Does anybody know if there is anything important to be done now and what she might have said at rapid pace. Thank you :)

  59. Reader July 16, 2012 at 18:52 #

    Thanks for the info, I just called and worked through the SS4 Form with the friendly guy on the line.

    It takes 15+ min to wait in line depending on the time you’re calling.

    You should have http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fss4.pdf open when you call.

    I was told to open it and he worked with me through the lines to make it easier for him.

    I’d also suggest to use this spelling chart to make it easy for them:

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e0/FAA_Phonetic_and_Morse_Chart2.svg

    You don’t need to have a business entity, self employment is sufficient.

  60. Michael Cargill July 16, 2012 at 22:26 #

    Just got my EIN number, thanks to this guide. Thank you lots, like.

    • Adrian Staccato July 17, 2012 at 00:45 #

      Hi Catherine

      I just started a blog today, and my very first post is about this! I link to your blog as well. Thanks for the info! It’s much appreciated! I got my EIN today in under five minutes! =)

  61. Michael Mardel July 17, 2012 at 04:01 #

    Once I got the phone no. and hours worked out, (I’m in Oz) the EIN was a breeze. Working out the other numbers was not so quick and easy. #10 proved a challenge and I’m not sure that Article no. 12 is correct for Oz and have asked Amazon as I also need the ref. no. for Kindle at #8 Thanks for the rest of your help.

  62. Kara Benson July 17, 2012 at 09:30 #

    Got my EIN last night thanks to your terrific info!!!! You have to be prepared to hold the line for some 10 minutes or so …. make an internet call to save huge phone bills,. First time I did get a not so nice woman asking for the FS …. form to be filled in ….. I politely ended the call and hung up, called again and bingo! All went well. Yes, Australia is on 5 % but I wasn’t so sure about the Article No, put in 28 which is the one summing up the entire treaty between Australia and US. Thanks again to all your great help!! Cheers
    Kara

  63. Hedonist July 17, 2012 at 14:50 #

    Hi there, thanks for the great advice, I just got my EIN about 15 mins ago. Because I had read some people’s experiences of being on hold for quite a while I decided to time my call so that it is still fairly early in Philadelphia (I phoned at about 9:15am local time) and sure enough I got through to somebody within only about 2-3 minutes. :)

  64. Suzanne van Rooyen (@Suzanne_Writer) July 17, 2012 at 20:45 #

    Great post – very informative! Alas, since I’m being published through an indie press I’ll actually need to get an ITIN. Although, my application will go to the IRS with an official letter from the publisher so here’s to hoping my application all the way from Finland won’t be rejected!

  65. Shane July 18, 2012 at 21:31 #

    Thank you for this. I was on hold for 30 minutes, got through to a guy who could not understand my accent at all (“Is that S, sir, or F?”) and it took another 30 mins to actually get the EIN, but I got it in the end.

    Thank you. Again. For real.

  66. Allan K. July 19, 2012 at 15:22 #

    Apparently none of this works for Brazil. Maybe I should move to another country. :(

    • Renata August 11, 2012 at 12:18 #

      Allan, did you find a way to do it? I’m in Brazil too, and have been struggling to find out what to do about this… My book is on Amazon as an ebook, but CreateSpace doesn’t let me publish without some of these numbers…

      It’s so frustrating!

  67. Elle Strauss July 19, 2012 at 17:40 #

    I can’t thank you enough Catherine and David!! You saved me so much headache, stress and effort. I was scheduled to travel to the US to visit the government agency in person this monday. Now I have my EIN and I don’t have to! Yay!!

  68. Lesley July 20, 2012 at 14:53 #

    Thank you! I’m so glad I found this information. I’ve just got my EIN from a very helpful lady, and it was all completely painless!

  69. Stacey Mitchell July 23, 2012 at 13:17 #

    Thank you so much for this post! I now have my own EIN and the call took 12 minutes from start to finish. Why on earth do they have to make the ITIN so hard to get?!

  70. Erica Conroy July 25, 2012 at 12:12 #

    My call took 7 minutes and 55 seconds, wasn’t on hold and the man was lovely. He was quite taken with the name of the town I live in and we discussed air travel as well. After I got off the phone, I freaked a bit as he didn’t ask for a company name, but after reading more comments here I see that he probably set me up as an individual. That’ll do, although I’ll probably have to contact them again when I change my name…

    Thanks for this article it was very, very helpful :)

  71. unannodiracconti July 26, 2012 at 09:29 #

    Wow this is great info. I’m actually in Singapore at the moment, so it looks like I won’t be able to avoid the 30% tax in any case. I wonder if amazon.co.uk has the same kind of rules- I’m not a UK citizen, so I wonder whether I’d have to pay tax there if I published on amazon.co.uk? Has anyone done that from outside the UK?

  72. Cristina Ansbjerg August 7, 2012 at 14:57 #

    Thank you very much for this amazing post.
    I just spent 23 minutes on the phone (Skype actually) and I got my EIN. The guy was nice but spoke so fast he lost his breath a few times (he was reading the SS-4 and filling it out).

    I\’m from Spain. Article 12 (Royalties). Withholding Rate: 5%

    Btw, I called on a Tuesday, at 9am (Philadelphia local time) and I didn\’t have to wait at all.

    • Denise Wy (@DeniseWy) August 13, 2012 at 10:41 #

      where can you find the the tax treaty article number? The pdf file is quite confusing. Thank u in advance :)

      • Cristina Ansbjerg August 13, 2012 at 10:48 #

        Hi Denise,
        go to this link http://www.irs.gov/businesses/international/article/0,,id=96739,00.html and find your country.
        There you will find a list of treaties between US and your country (if they exist). It’s usually pretty easy to find what treaty to apply.

        Once you locate the treaty, read the index to find the specifics for “Royalties”.
        There you have the article and the %

        Keep in mind that not all countries have a reduced withholding rate. But it’s worth checking.

        If you still have troubles to find the article let me know your country and I’ll try to help you :-)

        Cristina

  73. Zelah Meyer August 13, 2012 at 15:13 #

    I called just after 10am Philadelphia time on a Monday and and got straight through after selecting option 2, literally straight through, no wait time.

    I spoke to a very friendly and helpful woman who put up with me dithering over whether to use my name or my ‘trading as’ company name (I eventually settled on my name, as most of the companies will write cheques or make payments in that name rather than to my company name.)

    I now have an EIN. Yay! Thank you again for this article. It’s been really useful to so many people. :)

  74. K.Y. Wong August 14, 2012 at 18:23 #

    Hi Catherine, first of all I want to thank you for the fact that this article exists, or else I would never have known of this issue! I blogged briefly about my own experience and linked back to this article because of its comprehensiveness (and I believe word needs to be spread). Thanks again!

  75. Lani August 15, 2012 at 00:20 #

    I cannot thank you enough. I followed your list step-by-step and it worked EXACTLY as you said it would. It took me ten minutes tops and I am now the proud owner of an EIN number. Thank you!

  76. yasminselena August 15, 2012 at 16:22 #

    Brilliant, the whole call including waiting time was 6min 50, I got through in seconds, it sounds like i was very lucky – must confess i was really nervous. I was told that confirmation paperwork would follow in a few weeks. I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who’s chipped in to make an intimidating process easier, especially Catherine, Roz and David.

    I’d recommend SKYPE for the call if you have it. The UK is about 4 hours ahead of Philidelphia. It cost approximately 20p which is mad, as I tried to call the UK tax office earlier got cut off really fast for my troubles and it could cost more than this!

    She asked for a trading name and I gave them my author name, which is slightly different to my real name and was told it wasn’t a biggie. She did ask me if I had the SS-4, said it wasn’t mandatory, but a completed copy for guidance was an option, otherwise she’d complete it over the phone.

    Now for the fun part of completing the next form in teeny tiny writing!

  77. Michael August 19, 2012 at 13:24 #

    I sent my form off, hope I filled everything right :D.
    In australia, we get PAYG tax forms, does smashwords/amazon etc send these off too? I never get a response from the support people and if they do, I haven’t received one yet.

    What do I ask for incase they don’t actually know what I’m talking about?

    Thanks again :]

    • Phoebe July 5, 2013 at 02:02 #

      Hi Michael,
      I’m in Australia too and just trying to get my head around this. Did you work it out – is there any kind of payment summary sent by Amazon for our taxes? Also, do we need to have a business registered to claim taxes from the ATO from ebooks? Sorry for the questions and I know you posted this a year ago so I hope you still see it!
      Thanks in advance,
      Phoebe

  78. Gavin Williams August 20, 2012 at 17:33 #

    Hi. Thanks for this information. I called today at 17.15 London time and I got through after 2 rings!!!!!! I followed the instructions above and the lady took all my details, asked if I had the SS-4, said I hadn’t, she said no problem and just went through it all.

    Call lasted 9 mins 2 seconds (which included spelling out a very Welsh address! ) on Skype, costing 6.2 pence. Result = MY EIN number

    YIIPPEEEEE – Thanks guys so much

  79. Robert-Jan August 20, 2012 at 17:57 #

    Haaalllelujah!! It worked..got the eim in less then 10 minutes

  80. plascelyn August 20, 2012 at 20:52 #

    Quick update… the address for Createspace and Amazon KDP are now the same, (the Seattle one, according to both websites.) I’m still going to send the forms in separately, just in case the departments are different and they don’t speak to each other ;-)

    • recrunner January 18, 2013 at 09:25 #

      I asked Createspace if I could send both CS & KDP forms to the same address. They said yes & in fact said I could use the same W8BEN form for both – making sure that I included both CS Member ID & KDP publisher code on the same form. Which is what I’ve done.

      Saves a stamp :-)

  81. Johnny August 22, 2012 at 15:40 #

    I finished the first part to get my EIN number by calling IRS in less than 10 minutes, (the exact time is 8:44), after I called, I quickly press 2, and then the operator just picked up and start to say her ID number (some sort employee number to confirm she’s from IRS, I guess), then she asked me to give her, phone number, mailing address, company name, she asked me to spell out each letters, and then she spelled back (even the ‘space’) to confirm if everything is correct, then she just spelled on the EIN number to me, and she said within 2 weeks, I’ll be receiving a copy of that. I was so nervous (because English is not my tongue language), so I even missed one number for my phone numbers, LOL….but still I got my EIN.

    PS: I’m from Taiwan, so sometimes, I can’t really understand what she’s saying sometimes, but I guess she also asked me if I’m going to hire US persons within next 12 months, and I say NO, and she also checked if my company is located outside US. And I said YES! I did setup a company yesterday from Taiwan (very quick only cost less than $50), and I called today. I think you don’t really need company, but it’s really good if you have one that she asked me to spell out my company’s name!!

    Hope this helps others!!

    • Martyn V. Halm August 22, 2012 at 17:18 #

      I’m pretty fluent in English, but I wrote down all the information I needed to convey in the NATO spelling. Hotel-Alpha-Lima-Mike, so they wouldn’t spell ‘Halm’ wrong. It made repeating information unnecessary, and helped keep the call short.

      • Cristina Ansbjerg August 22, 2012 at 17:31 #

        I did that too and the guy said: Madam, please, don’t spell like that, alright? I don’t know what that is. LOL

        • Martyn V. Halm August 24, 2012 at 10:19 #

          Well, I have to add that I just rattled off my address, then said, ‘Would you like me to spell that?’ and after that they don’t care what spelling alphabet you use…

          As a sidenote, I’d just like to add that I got confirmation that my W7BEN form has been validated by Amazon and they will withold 0%, conform the information I provided. So the EIN is enough to get the 0% witholding rate. Thanks, Catherine and Dave, for making this effortless.

          • Cristina Ansbjerg August 24, 2012 at 10:30 #

            How do you know your W7BEN (mine was W8-BEN) is validated? Did Amazon send you a notification?

            • Martyn V. Halm August 24, 2012 at 10:43 #

              Hi Cristina,
              I received the following email:
              “Hello,

              Thank you for submitting your W-8BEN. Your withholding rate is set to 0% and we are retaining the original form on our files. Please remember to submit a new form if your information changes. If you have any questions, please let us know.

              Thank you,

              Shaina
              Accounts Payable-Tax”

          • Martyn V. Halm August 24, 2012 at 10:31 #

            Ehm, W8BEN, of course.

  82. Dan Harris August 24, 2012 at 02:49 #

    Sooooooooooooo helpful. I just started looking into this, and thought for a couple of horrible days that the ITIN route was the only way. I’ll call Philly tomorrow :) Thanks!

    • Dan Harris August 24, 2012 at 14:37 #

      BOOM.

      One friendly 7-mionute conversation later, and I am the proud owner of an EIN!

      On the Form SS4 thing, in case it’s useful to anyone: the lady did ask me if I’d already filed an SS4. I said no, and waited. She then said, ‘OK – what kind of business are you filing for?’ and listed a few different kinds. I said ‘I’m a self-employed author registering for compliance with withholding for Amazon.com’. That did the trick, no SS4 needed.

      Thanks again David and Catherine!

  83. Dan Harris August 24, 2012 at 02:56 #

    Reblogged this on Sailing the Void and commented:
    Even though this post from Catherine is exaclty 6 months old, I’ve only just read it, and its very much worth reblogging! For the last couple of days I’ve been looking into the hideous process required to stop U.S. e-book vendors from withholding 30% of your royalties for tax reasons. It looked grim, but this ‘just a phone call’ method seems much more civilised, and people seem to be having consistent success with it. I’ll be giving it a whirl in the morning. Night, all.

  84. Andreas Wieslander August 24, 2012 at 10:46 #

    This might be obvious to some of you, but I would very much like clarity in this matter:

    – Can I be certain that I don’t have to declare taxes in U.S.A if I send each company I do business with the form W8BEN? I’m from Sweden, so the tax withholding rate is 0% if I send in the form.

    • Martyn V. Halm August 24, 2012 at 10:57 #

      If you country has a tax treaty with the US, you can attain an EIN, send in the W8BEN to Amazon or other distributors, get it validated by them and only pay taxes over your royalties in your own country. Since you don’t pay taxes in the US, and you’re not a US citizen, you don’t need to declare taxes. I suggest you’d keep careful track of your royalties and the taxes you paid over them in your own country, so IF you get an audit you can show that you’ve paid taxes.

      • Andreas Wieslander August 24, 2012 at 10:59 #

        Thank you, thank you, thank you! That’s exactly what I wanted to hear.

        • Martyn V. Halm August 24, 2012 at 11:10 #

          You’re welcome, Andreas. I’m not tax specialist, but I will do what I advised to you myself, as I reside in the Netherlands. The idea behind the tax treaty is that you pay taxes in your host country, otherwise you’d pay taxes twice. Amazon has to take care of the sales tax, and the author has to pay income tax over the royalties received. If you do nothing, 30% will be withheld by Amazon and turned over to the IRS. The W8BEN merely asserts that you promise to pay tax in your own country, conform the tax treaty, so Amazon can transfer all royalties to you without withholding tax for the IRS. That’s why you have to send a W8BEN to every distributor, because all of them have to prove independently to the IRS that they handled conform the rules of the IRS.

          • Winson Ng September 13, 2013 at 13:04 #

            Hi Martyn, thanks for your clear explanation on the form, if my country, Malaysia has no tax treaty with the US, does submitting the form with the EIN number make any difference. I will be incurred a double taxation when my royalties reach a certain amount here in malaysia, meaning after the 30% from Amazon, i will have to reprt my earnings here in malaysia , for another X% amount…

  85. Emma Gray August 29, 2012 at 15:39 #

    Thank you Catherine, thank you, David! I followed your instructions and got my EIN in ten minutes, and wasn’t on hold at all! Sure the woman was disinterested and I answered a question with ‘no’ at first, so when she expressed surprise (the first emotion in the whole call) I replaced it with ‘yes’ very quickly! And thank you for the detailed advice for the form, I will follow you to the letter with that, too!

    • Luiz Carlos Da Silva August 29, 2012 at 17:41 #

      a pessoa positiva emana sua energia
      superando a negatividade e passando por cima de tudo que é mal.E meu desejo e todas as pessoas sejam amorosas e positivas.Obrigado boa tarde!!!

  86. Donna Hosie September 5, 2012 at 19:35 #

    Just followed this step by step and I have my number! THANK YOU SO MUCH. Your advice is by far and away the simplest on the Internet.

  87. jennyworstallenny Worstall September 6, 2012 at 09:22 #

    Thank you so much for the brilliant advice about getting an EIN- tried it yesterday and after a bit of a wait on the phone (luckily skype!), was through to a very charming gentleman in the USA who gave me an EIN with no delay and only a few questions, all of which I knew the answer to (eg Where do you live…). He asked me if I had anything else I wanted help with; I mentioned my teenage children but he said that was beyond even his powers. Thank you SO much for all the excellent advice, Catherine. I am going to share this as much as possible!

    Jenny Worstall.

    • John September 6, 2012 at 11:48 #

      Worked like a charm to get the number, calling from Sweden. Now, I did waste $50 to get a notarized copy for the ITIN application, but the trip to the US embassy was pretty interesting in and of itself so that’s OK. Now to fill in form W8-BEN…

  88. Helen McKenna September 8, 2012 at 02:38 #

    Thank you so much for making a complicated process so simple. I was very lucky and got straight through to a very helpful woman who didn’t ask me to spell everything 3 times. The call lasted 6 minutes from start to finish and now I have an EIN. I have been putting this off for months because it seemed so hard. It’s really not. Oh and it is also Article “12” for Australia in Question 10 of the W8-BEN.

  89. JB Rowley September 12, 2012 at 03:53 #

    I found this post extremely helpful. Thank you, Catherine and David.

    I made the phone call to the number (Step 1. Call the IRS at +1 267 941 1099), using Skype with headset. The wait to get through to the operator after my call was connected was not very long. The audio was excellent. The operator was clear and courteous and questions were few. Then I heard the magic numbers of my EIN and the magic words, ‘You can start using this number immediately’.

    Buoyed with confidence I tackled the W8-BEN using David’s step by step guidelines here. All went smoothly. I took advantage of the option to type directly into the form then saved it and printed. All I had to do was sign, (remembering to use blue ink) and date it, remembering to put the month first (not the day as we do in Australia).

    Re Part II Step 10: The number for Australia is ‘12’.

    I was a little confused in this section by the tables but I worked it out that page 40 was the page I needed.

    After all that, I posted the darling little form using Express Post – $47.00 from Australia. Ouch! Still, the sooner it gets there the better.

    Thanks again from a happy little Vegemite! :-)

    • Stephen September 12, 2012 at 12:22 #

      Hello, I’m an artist and illustrator.I sell some of my artwork as prints through US companies and went throught the nightmare of trying to work out what was needed regarding tax,treaties,forms and numbers last year. I got my ITIN number in the end but wow was it a brain fry to work out how to get it and a major hassle to get hold of, so I’m glad there’s a different way through, at least for self publishing authors. Not sure if the EIN route might apply to my circumstances but for now at least it’s not necessary.
      I do have a question though that I hope someone might know the answer to.
      If I move from one EEC country to another would I keep the same ITIN number and simply resubmit my W8 |BEN forms with my amended address details to the relevant US companies or would I be expected to
      to reapply to the IRS for a new ITIN number? OR would I simply have to inform the IRS of my change of location but keep the same ITIN number?

      I’m sure you can all apreciate that I don’t want to stir the hornet’s nest with a call to the IRS without being sure of my facts first,given how much hassle it is to get an ITIN in the first place.
      Any thoughts or info anyone might have would be much appreciated.

      • Erica Conroy November 8, 2012 at 07:34 #

        I know that if you need to change your details for EIN you have to inform them in writing. It is possible that this is the same for an ITIN, but it would be best to check with them directly.

  90. Peter September 12, 2012 at 13:19 #

    Just followed the instructions – got a very nice lady operative – and did the whole thing in just short of 6 minutes! Fantastic.

  91. Johnny September 13, 2012 at 02:36 #

    Need help here! I’m from Taiwan and got my EIN and submit W8 to amazon successfully according to the instruction in this post, but I got an email recently from Amazon KDP saying that there is no ‘income tax treaty’ between Taiwan and US, so I’m still going to be withhold 30% tax!!! I made around $1000 royalties from KDP last month, and looks like I’m going to receive around $700 only. I’ve been deducted for the past two months, too, around $200 :( ….Is there any way I could avoid this or get some sort of reduction, 30% is just too much!!! Thanks for all the help in advanced!!!

    • Jan Budkowski August 7, 2013 at 19:16 #

      Hi, Johnny,
      I think it would be worth checking with your own tax authorities, because very likely, if you’ve paid the tax in USA, you may well be able to reduce your local tax bill by that amount.
      I can’t guarantee that’ll be the outcome, but that’s probably the best route to go.

  92. Jason Arnopp September 14, 2012 at 00:12 #

    I can only echo the many thank yous from the folks above – cheers Catherine and David! Just phoned up and getting the EIN was a breeze. As someone said in the posts above, I was asked when I started selling to America, or something like that, so I just gave them the date that my first ebook became available at Amazon.com. Lovely.

    • Susan Ross September 14, 2012 at 01:21 #

      Sorry Jason. I can’t figure out how to add a general comment so I’m using “reply.” I got my EIN today due to this fabulous post. I tried to put my read aloud book on Smashwords but they only accept word documents. I haven’t heard back from Apple yet. Does Smashwords do readaloud books?

  93. Cherry September 14, 2012 at 00:30 #

    Wow, found this page yesterday night and I now have an EIN! I called the number just now, which was about 11.10am Friday New Zealand time – 19.10pm Thursday night in Philadelphia. I got straight through to a lovely lady called Mrs Freeman (maybe the same “mature” lady who helped someone else here?) She asked me if I had the SS4 form in front of me, which I did, thanks to previous advice here. She also asked if I had filled it out (which I hadn’t, so I winged it) – she didn’t want me to send the form to her, it was just so we were looking at the same fields on the form and so I had the information ready. We are using a company that we set up in 2002, and she wanted to know when the company was formed – so there was a mad dash for me to find our company certificate with the establishment date, so suggest you dig that out if you’re using an existing company.

    Thanks so much for making this information available and to everyone for sharing their experiences.

  94. Hayley September 14, 2012 at 04:48 #

    So do I need like an ABN or something before I can get a IEN?

    • JB Rowley September 14, 2012 at 05:34 #

      No, they don’t ask for an ABN. You just tell them you are a sole trader selling ebooks online through Amazon.com.

  95. Hayley September 17, 2012 at 06:08 #

    OMG! Someone please help! For question 10, I can’t find the number for Australia! I hate this stupid tax form it’s stressing me out! *pulls out hair*

    • JB Rowley September 17, 2012 at 06:42 #

      The number for Australia is 12 – as mentioned in a couple of the comments here. JB :-)

      • Hayley September 17, 2012 at 06:55 #

        Thanks, JB. You’re a life saver!

  96. Nikki Dudley September 17, 2012 at 16:10 #

    Thanks so much, this blog about EIN saved me a lot of stress! I got mine in about 7 mins. I was confused when I first called as she asked me what type of entity I wanted but I just told her I was a self-employed author who wanted to get an EIN for compliance with withholding for Amazon and it was all fine! Excellent, can’t thank you enough. I have shared on Twitter and my blog to help others x

  97. Karen Prince September 18, 2012 at 12:16 #

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this. You caught me just as I was about to start the struggle, and now I notice you have all sorts of great posts about pricing and stuff, so have opted in to get your posts via email.

  98. Anderson September 19, 2012 at 10:13 #

    always i used to read smaller content that also clear their motive, and that is also happening with this article which I am reading now.

  99. Niki Savage October 5, 2012 at 13:23 #

    Thank you, Catherine and David, for this wonderful advice. I am a writer from South Africa and now also the proud owner of an EIN. I held on for thirty minutes and spoke to the operator for ten minutes. And to think I was about to start the slog for an ITIN. This was so easy. BTW the option is now option 3, not option 2 as the IRS have revamped their menus. Thanks again.

  100. Rachel H October 6, 2012 at 18:30 #

    Wow i cannot believe it has taken me over a year to get the exact info I have been seeking. Originally I came across the info of needing the ITIN but then stumbled on something mentioning the EIN. Luckily I am not published yet but have been doing my research in the hope someone had the right info and today i simply put in a search and here it is; if its ok with you i’d like to direct people especially UK writers from my blog to this page? Thank you both for this info I will be making use of it. I do have one question however, if i declare my name for my writing, can i declare my photography under the same umbrella? my belief is that i can because it is under my name, is this correct?

  101. Aisyah Nuttall October 9, 2012 at 14:29 #

    Wohoooo! Thank you so much for your step-by-step instruction. We called the IRS, the first person asked about the Form SS-4 so we ended the call…. Called the second time and she helped with the whole process and we got the EIN! Yeay

  102. JB Rowley October 9, 2012 at 19:43 #

    Update: The next step in the process has also gone smoothly. I received an email from Amazon indicating that from now on only 5% tax will be withheld from my earnings. Yay!

    They also confirmed that previously withheld amounts must be claimed through the US tax department after Amazon issue Form 1042S, ‘which is the statement we issue to you and the IRS to report your gross royalties and any amounts withheld’.

  103. Jenna October 10, 2012 at 00:42 #

    Just a quick note to say I found this article incredibly useful.

  104. Maggie Thom October 10, 2012 at 16:04 #

    Thank you for the information and for doing this – both you and David. You saved me hours of headaches. Even phoning the IRS may get you a different answer than above. I found this page on their website, which explains about applying for a EIN and how to do it. It says right on that page, no need to fill out that form the SS-4, just call – follow this advice. When I called, the guy told me I had to fill out the form, I said, I was told I didn’t have to, so he did it while on the phone. Twenty minutes tops. http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Apply-for-an-Employer-Identification-Number-%28EIN%29-Online
    My book is being published next week, so this was very timely and helpful. Can you send me your url for this page as I’d like to post a link on my website for others looking for this information. Thank you.

  105. Sean Sherlock October 10, 2012 at 22:28 #

    Thank you (and Tom) very much for this advice. Read the article, phoned US, got EIN no. Got an app on Amazon appstore – wasn’t going to bother because of what looked like such a hassle. Thanks again.

    Sean Sherlock

  106. Giles English October 11, 2012 at 14:41 #

    Thanks! Just done it! No problems with not being incorporated etc. They say that the number will take 2 weeks to take effect.

  107. Butler October 15, 2012 at 16:43 #

    So there is no way to get a EIN number without being incorporated as a company? How does one do that from outside the US?

    • Cristina October 15, 2012 at 16:48 #

      No, it’s totally the opposite. You CAN get your EIN without being incorporated. You can get it just by being self-employed.

    • JB Rowley October 15, 2012 at 20:42 #

      You don’t have to be incorporated. You just tell them you sell books on Amazon. If you read through some of the comments here you will find further information about how various individuals got their EIN.

      • Susan Ross October 16, 2012 at 00:51 #

        You are listing yourself as a sole proprietor.

  108. catherineryanhoward October 16, 2012 at 09:00 #

    I just want to thank the commenters who continue to take time to answer the questions that appear on this thread: thank you!

  109. tamunosaki October 16, 2012 at 22:54 #

    I dnt hav TIN nor EIN yet. I wil go 4 it later. Becuase i did nt fill my TIN my royalty section refuse to save. How do i get pass dis section?

  110. garygormanGary Gorman October 18, 2012 at 12:45 #

    Really helpful article. Thank you so much.

    Called and got my EIN number yesterday which took about ten minutes. Forms now on their way to the US.

    Gary

  111. Michele Christie October 23, 2012 at 09:55 #

    WoW!!! 100% Fabulous – JOB DONE! – 20 mins on hold, 10 mins of questions and I have an EIN!! Absolutely thrilled and a massive THANK YOU to you both- oh and kisses xxxx

  112. Catherine Gardiner October 24, 2012 at 21:28 #

    Reblogged this on Books & Bites.

  113. jaymountney November 1, 2012 at 11:58 #

    You and David are the greatest… I put off all US tax issues for months because I was terrified. Initially I was also unable to see a way forward – being a retired pensioner I couldn’t afford the costs and hassle of getting an ITIN. Then I blogged about it and Martyn Halm directed me to your post!!! Many many thanks for trying it all out and posting such clear instructions! I suspect Amazon have been reading your blog because I now see that on their comunity forum someone posted the same information the following month but of course without your post I would never have found/read that as I didn’t have any idea what a W8-BEN was in the first place.

    I made my phone call using Skype. I chose 11.00.a.m GMT on a Thursday and got straight through. The lady was very clear and helpful – agreed I didn’t need an SS44 form at present, and that I didn’t need to have a registered company, just a declaration that I was the ‘responsible person’. It took just over ten minutes, even with all the checking of spelling (I have a strange address), and cost me 20p… Maybe your post has sent so many of us down this route that the IRS are getting used to the calls?!

    Something that confuses me is the suggestion that royalties are witheld by Amazon. I was able to publish on Smashwords without any tax information but Amazon won’t let me open a publishing account without an EIN number so uploading/publishing wouldn’t be an option. Maybe they’ve changed their policy this year? It would, presumably, be in their interest to ensure all would-be publishers had their tax issues sorted out from the start.

    I think you might just have changed the world. You have certainly changed my life! Thank you!

  114. tssharp November 1, 2012 at 16:58 #

    So, for the guys that did this successfully, did you actually set yourselves up with a company prior to doing this? Setting up a (publishing) company seems easy enough on Companies House website, but it adds another layer of jobs to complete before getting the EIN.

    • tssharp November 1, 2012 at 17:05 #

      Ignore my comment above, I did that annoying thing of not reading the posts properly, something I hate when other people do it. I’ll call them without having set up a company in the UK, that would save a load of hassle.

  115. DD November 1, 2012 at 21:26 #

    I just wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart for this post. The whole EIN/ITIN seemed so intimidating until I stumbled across this article. I just got off the phone with the IRS, and I now have a shiny, brand new EIN in my hand! Seriously, I cannot thank you enough for this. Regards,

    DD

  116. tom george November 3, 2012 at 09:25 #

    Do i stil hav to fill n send W8-BEN form to createspace.com before my book go live? I tink d form is 4 those who hav already published dere book.

  117. Sarah-Jane Steele November 5, 2012 at 14:46 #

    I can’t thank you enough. I only realised yesterday that I would be liable for US tax. Cue a panicked attempt to understand the rules around it and how to not pay it then, amazingly I came across your website. Today a 15min wait before my call was taken. A huge sigh from the person on the other end of the phone (who continued to sound like a robot throughout) when I said I thought I didn’t need the SS4 form the about 3 minutes later I had my number. Thank you again I will be visitng your site again.

  118. Roy November 5, 2012 at 16:44 #

    THANK YOU :0) On my second attempt I got someone (around 15 min wait for both) who mentioned the dreaded SS4 form, but when I insisted I didn’t need one for a ‘foreign entity’ she also sighed (see Sarah-Jane’s comment above) and took my details. And lo and behold I had my EIN in 2 mins flat :0)

    Thanks again – this save sooooo much time and hassle.

  119. Jo (@Jo_witterings) November 5, 2012 at 18:16 #

    Just did the EIN call. Wow was really easy. I think I phoned at a busy time as did not get answered for 30 minutes. Least their hold music is not as awful as most in the UK! The lady that answered was helpful, she did ask if I had filled out a SS-4 form which I said I hadnt and everything after that was straightforward. She said i would get the notice in a few weeks and they may ask additional questions on that if necessary. Said I was trading under my own name and 4 minutes later got my EIN number.

  120. patsyt November 6, 2012 at 11:07 #

    Thank you David and Catherine for the US tax information. It took me a few goes to get through to the right department and we had fun with name spelling as the lady on the phone was using a different phonetic alphabet – ‘P for Pilar’ she said, and I found myself asking ‘P for what?’ Tremendously grateful to all self published writers out there sharing their experiences and information. You are all wonderful

  121. King Samuel Benson November 6, 2012 at 12:18 #

    I’ve just stumbled on this blog through the referral of a fellow indie author in one of my groups, and I’d like to say a BIG ‘thank you’ to David and Catherine for this amazing piece of information. I’ve spent the last two hours going over all the comments. I’ve bookmarked and subscribed already!
    No, I’ve not made the call yet (although I’m very anxious to) because I’m yet to be clear on this: I went over to the IRS US Tax Treaty A-Z page and couldn’t find my country in the list :( I’m from Nigeria and aren’t we supposed to have a tax treaty with the United States? I always thought we did and I wonder why Nigeria is not listed on that page :-S Suggestions, please?
    Lol, as a side note, I’m very certain I’m the first ever and only author to self-publish with Amazon and Smashwords from Nigeria. Perhaps they should consider this and not deduct 30% of my meagre sales. ^ ^??
    Back to my issue; anyone kind enough to help me address it? I really need help.

    No one is probably going to notice that. HELP! H-E-L-P!!!

  122. Coolamor November 7, 2012 at 14:40 #

    Just tried calling – just to let you know, menu option 2 has become 3. However they are so busy I wasn’t even allowed to hold! I’ll try again later and let you know how I get on.

    BTW thanks to Catherine and David – I looked through the IRS (and amazon) websites and went from black hair to salt and pepper to just plain sodium chloride.

    • Coolamor November 13, 2012 at 13:27 #

      My second attempt they said wiaitng time over 30 mins – no kidding I hung after an hour! (Not using Skype – yikes!!). However third call – straight through (literally no wait). It was a Tuesday lunchtime (UK) – might be a quiet time? Friendly lady – asked about form but only because she wanted me to read line by line from it. I said I hadn’t done it – no problem she just took down the details etc. 10 mins I have my number.

      Thanks to the contributors on this – life saver. Now just those other forms….

  123. Phil November 9, 2012 at 18:37 #

    Thank you so much for your help, Catherine, I cant believe how much easier that was! I do actually have a tip with regards to aquiring the EIN, as well as a query!

    I rang the IRS and the computer told me I would be waiting for twenty minutes, so I hung up and rang again. Four minutes. It worked that time for me, so certainly worth a try!

    Question: so do I only need to send ONE copy of my W8 BEN if I only publish on amazon? I dont have to send one to the IRS or anybody else?

    • George November 25, 2012 at 06:39 #

      Hi Phil

      I just got my EIN three days ago and I asked them your question.

      They said: “no do not send the IRS a copy of the W8-BEN form this is for the US company you are dealing with.”

      And if you think about it, it makes sense. amazon has to show them (the irs) that XYZ indie writer from Canada or other country is exempt (or is entitled to having a lower rate than 30% depending on your country) from having to pay this amount X to the IRS.

      Thanks Catherine and David for posting this important info.

  124. Marco November 21, 2012 at 21:51 #

    Hello to everyone,

    The menu number on the phone has recently changed. Now they have an specific option to obtain the EIN. It is #3, not #2 as before.

    I just got my EIN over the phone. I was 5 minutes waiting and then 12 minutes spelling everything correctly. I was prepared with a list of “A as Alaska, B as Bob, C as Canada, etc.” It was really useful since I have a strong accent (I am originally from the North West coast of Spain) and the agent did not catch some letters perfectly at the beginning.

    Firstly, I gave the purpose of my call. Next, I had to provide my name, last name (I have 2 surnames, so I separate them by a hyphen mark. In this manner, Spanish people can avoid common paper problems in other countries). My mailing address and phone number were also required after being asked to receive and fill out the SS-4 form. I said that I understand that everything can be done over the phone.

    Secondly, I had to indicate that this is a new business from a short list of options. In addition, I was asked to choose an activity from a long list. No one worked for me. I selected the option “other”, and then I had to specify. I just said “self-publishing”.

    I was told to receive a letter with the EIN in 2 weeks. I am a resident in Ontario (Canada) and I called from Skype (using headphones). The next step is to submit the ebook and the W8-BEN form.

    Hope this helps :)

  125. Marco November 21, 2012 at 21:54 #

    And thank you very much to Catherine and David for the great job and everybody else for the comments :)

    • tamunosaki tom george November 22, 2012 at 02:55 #

      Pls can someone help me. I have publishd wit createspace but hav nt made any sales. Wat do i do?

  126. Elizabeth Krall November 26, 2012 at 23:08 #

    Can you bear one more happy customer? This worked flawlessly, and thanks to everyone’s helpful, detailed comments I knew what to expect and how to answer. FYI, 30 minutes on hold from Australia (it was 4.25pm their time), 10 minutes of talking, and lots of spelling. Thanks so much to David and Catherine for the original info, and to all the commenters for their additional tips. The dreaded SS-4 was not even mentioned; perhaps this telephone barrage of foreign self-publishers has sapped the IRS’s will? ;)

  127. Gustav Marklund November 27, 2012 at 01:48 #

    I would like to thank you for this useful guide. It has helped me immensely and spared me the trouble of finding someone who still uses a fax machine since I live in the middle of nowhere (which is the best part of nowhere) and driving to the embassy would have had me taking time off work for a three day trip. My book will be published without hassle all thanks to you guys. Children, pets, streets and new car models should be named after you! Best wishes from Sweden!

  128. catherineryanhoward November 27, 2012 at 11:36 #

    Thanks everyone for your thanks! Glad this EIN situation is working out nicely for everyone. :-D

  129. Steve Elsworth November 27, 2012 at 13:57 #

    This is brilliant. Thank you! One thing – I called Nov 27 2012, and the phone menu has changed. You now have to select 3, rather than 2. Anyway, thanks again! Steve Elsworth

  130. SOR Studios December 6, 2012 at 06:36 #

    So I did this, as recent as end of November, 2012. It worked a treat. Great post. I will also add to the info by saying they (IRS) have recently changed their automation reception. You now have to press three instead of two. Another point, I got a lady who insisted on me mailing a SS-4. I insisted that their website stated that it wasn’t required and by calling the number listed above, it negated sending in an SS-4. We did that dance three times before she said okay. I had an EIN six minutes later. Great blog. Thanks for the info.

  131. Mike Reeves-McMillan December 7, 2012 at 20:49 #

    Maybe I picked a bad time. I went through the phone tree, waited on hold for 15 minutes, then was told that I needed to be transferred (why did I go through the phone tree, then?) and got an automated voice estimating my wait time at another 30 minutes. I’m going to try the ITIN again instead.

    This was Saturday morning NZ time, so Friday night US time.

    • catherineryanhoward December 8, 2012 at 13:10 #

      I’d try calling during primetime office hours (9-5 US time) and not on a Friday. Just like any office I’d bet they’re quieter early in the morning towards the beginning of the week.

  132. leniking December 9, 2012 at 18:24 #

    Reblogged this on leniking and commented:
    Very helpful! we could do with more ‘how to’ pieces like this in the ebooks world!

  133. Nicholas December 10, 2012 at 18:48 #

    Hi, I followed you advice and I finally managed to get my EIN just today as well ,fast and easy, my gratitude to Catherine and David for helping us all! I have one question; are we supposed to receive any documentation from IRS in the mail? If yes, are we required to fill in any forms for them and send them back, do we need to provide any legal proof for our business entity? Thanks!

    • JB Rowley December 10, 2012 at 19:20 #

      Yes, they follow up by sending out a letter informing you that the IRS has ‘assigned you an employer identification number’. You don’t have to fill anything out. However, there is a slip included that allows you to correct any errors to your name or address. That’s it.
      JB :-)

      • nicossty December 10, 2012 at 19:48 #

        Thanks a lot JB, great!

      • Kurt December 17, 2012 at 16:06 #

        This post and the comments below must be heaven-sent! First thanks to David and Catherine, then to Nicholas for asking this tiny detail and Jb for answering it clearly.

        I wish everybody a happy new year in advance.

        My best.

        Kurt

  134. Suzanne December 12, 2012 at 20:50 #

    OK I did it!!! I was on hold for about 20 minutes and they asked me to fill out an SS-4 form and I told them that I didn’t have a fax machine at my location so they filled out all the info with me on the phone.
    As for the info, I already have a Canadian corporation so I just gave them the corp info and that was it and got an EIN number pronto. Phew. I hate calling government offices.

    Thanks everyone!!!

  135. Joanne December 13, 2012 at 13:55 #

    Sunil, the whole point of this post and all the comments is that you do NOT need an ITIN as a self–published author. I, too, am South African, and went the EIN route. IT was simple and hassle-free. There is nothing dodgy about it, you do not have to be an employer or business, you just tell the operator that you are an author self-publishing on Amazon. Then you fill out the W8ben form, stating your EIN number and send it to KDP / Createspace / Wherever. The withholding rate for South Africa is 0%. You may want to read the entire article and it’s comments to get a better idea of this route.

    • Joanne December 13, 2012 at 13:56 #

      argh – “its comments” without the apostrophe! (Auto-correct strikes again!)

    • Sunil Shah December 13, 2012 at 19:35 #

      hello thank you for that. Yes you’re absolutely right. I’ve found out by reading the links more carefully. Thanks for correcting my errors that might have misled others!

  136. Sunil Shah December 14, 2012 at 03:21 #

    hello everyone, please ignore my previous comments re preferring an ITIN number to an EIN number – I was guided by a call to the IRS and it appears the EIN number for sef-published authors is fine, and NOT more cumbersome than the other…Good luck and thank so much for the help!!

  137. AJ December 17, 2012 at 03:04 #

    Reblogged this on All Things Satisfying and commented:
    If you have ever wanted to self publish on Amazon through the kindle platform, this is essential information. If you do not reside in the U.S., you must go through the process of getting an EIN number to be able to fill out and submit the WBEN8 form – the holy grail, and what you need so as not to have 30% of your revenue held back in taxes. This is definitely satisfying – enjoy.

  138. yorgos December 18, 2012 at 01:27 #

    I got two letters from US authority, one is from IRS, confirming the EIN, also includes the tax related information (form 1120F to fill out) and one is from EFTPS, sending me the PIN for online access of EFTPS. Do I just ignore it since I will be filling out W-8BEN tax withholding form while applying for Apple iBookstore pay account?

    Thanx in advance….

    To help Rachel and others.

    I got the same communications. This is because IRS is assuming you are a non US company with a US branch OR that you have some obligation outside amazon withholding funds at X% (according to the treaty your country has it could be 0% or more). T

    This is what I did and you should to:

    1) First call the EFTPS service and be asked to be removed. They will simply do it, you do not need to give a reason. The EFTPS service is basically a voluntary service to file taxes online for those companies that would like that. The IRS automated system assumed that and put you on there. This one is not a big deal.

    2) Call the international line the number David gave above. And tell them you are a company based completely based in (insert your country here) and are not required to file Form1120F.

    Tell them you signed on for an EIN to fill out the W8BEN only.

    —->Tell them you have NO branches in the USA and NO employees in the USA and that all and any requirements you have are fully satisfied by the withholding tax at its source (remember that might be 0% or more depending on your nation’s agreement with the USA but the amount does not matter here–what matters is that your obligations are met completely at the source–that being Amazon).

    Tell them you are a small publisher licensing copyrights to amazon for ebooks

    The IRS agent then will expunge that file request from your EIN file as you are not an entity required to file. If the treaty says to hold a X% whatever X% (zero or not zero depending on your country) thats the end of it –they hold or not –there is no requirement to file on your part. remember the W8BEN is your friend it allows amazon (to show the IRS) that amazon will withold X% and then THEY (amazon) report to the IRS. You do not report.

    Thanks to Catherine and David. Catherine I am writing the above post because I saw that you got the ITIN instead of an EIN and could not answer Rachel on this one because ITIN holders dont run into this!

    I hope this post helps people who have encountered the same thing.

    now if you’ll excuse me I have to go get me a steaming cup of coffee! lovely caffeine! Catherine I know you understand!

    • Nicholas December 19, 2012 at 14:44 #

      Hi yorgos (is that greek by the way, I am from Cyprus), great info! Could you please share the phone number you are referring to (EFTPS service). What about the other one (“the international line that David mentioned”), is that the same that we used to get our EIN in the first place? Thanks!

      • yorgos December 20, 2012 at 06:34 #

        Yasou rai Nicholas

        Yes its Greek my parents are from Sparta and Euvia. Im in Canada but wherever you are the EFTPS will send you the letter. On the letter it has a number for those outside the usa: 1-303-967-5916.
        The letter issent from Denver Colorado and will arrive a month or so after you get your EIN.

        As for the “international line that David mentioned”–yes its the same number to get your EIN. Go back there and call them. I did not do that at first because I assumed I had to talk to the regular IRS offices and got nowhere but a wild goose chase. So dont call other IRS numbers!

        The international office for EIN at +1 267 941 1099 as given by David is qualified to deal with international businesses and they are informed on the matter. (yes the same as the one where you got your EIN).

        Now if you get form1120F you will see on page 2 it says that its for people whose “tax liability” is NOT fully satisfied at the withholding source (ie amazon in this case). yours has been met at the source so you do not fill out this form.

        Now for Cyprus you have 0% withholding across the board.

        for those curious where to find these facts about each country they are all available at IRS publication 901

        http://www.irs.gov/publications/p901/ar02.html#en_US_publink1000219371

        sroll down and find your country under ‘Royalties’ and subsection ‘Copyrights’ in the chart.

        But read the whole thing –I print these things out and read them relishing in their bureaucratic dryness. After writing wild fantasy stuff all day–nothing like a boring government document to relax by.

        ta leme
        Yorgos

        • mikeormsby February 1, 2013 at 13:36 #

          Thank you, Catherine, David for your excellent advice. I had my first ITIN application rejected in Dec 2011 but your tips above helped me to procure an EIN today, 13 months later. I had read Yorgos’ post above before I rang the IRS. I asked them about form 1120F. They confirmed that it is “for corporations only.” As self-pub authors we need not worry about it. Best wishes, Mike

          • mikeormsby February 2, 2013 at 14:11 #

            By the way, regarding Lulu Press, your W-8BEN form must be received in hard copy (W-9 forms can be mailed or faxed, according to Lulu). Here’s Lulu’s postal address for the W-8:
            Attn: Royalties Support
            Lulu Press, Inc.
            3101 Hillsborough Street
            Raleigh, NC 27607
            Fax: 919-459-5867
            PS. You can also enter your EIN online, under your Lulu account settings, payment contacts etc, but I expect they do also require a hard copy of your W-8 (I wrote to ask them and got an auto-reply, with the address above). Mike.

        • Daz Baldwin April 8, 2014 at 11:29 #

          Hi
          Also many thanks for the info. I just received the letter from the IRS stating my EIN (obtained via phone in 10mins) and stating that i need to file a 1120F. I called and asked for my company to have this requirement removed and within 2 mins, they said it was all sorted.
          Cheers
          Daz

    • Suzanne December 27, 2012 at 21:07 #

      Thanks for this. I got my notice about the 1120F today (Dec. 27th) The letter was dated December 19th and told me that I had to file by December 14th. WTH??
      I called the EIN line right away and they told me that their computer system is down until January 3rd so if my questions were specific to my account, I would need to write a letter or call back after January 3rd. (How efficient).
      It took the agent 10 minutes to hunt down the EIN address and while he was doing that, I could overhear another IRS agent berating a caller with “You’re doing it wrong!!” over and over.
      I wish it was more efficient so that I don’t have to waste my time with a letter. Sigh.

  139. Sophie December 19, 2012 at 21:43 #

    All I can do is go down on my knees in wonder and to give thankful prayers to you both!
    I spent hours going in circles but then came across this post.

    It works great and all done in under an hour- 49 minutes of holding in a queue waiting for an operator and 7 minutes of form filling with a very nice young lady to get my EIN!).

    Please note in step 2 the IRS have changed the number you key in and option 3 is for foreigners to get an EIN rather than option 2. That is probably because so many self publishing authors are doing this!

  140. Lauren Woodcock December 21, 2012 at 15:16 #

    Thank you both so much for this post (and many of your other posts also). It has made my terrifying entrance into the world of self-publishing that little bit less terrifying. I would not have had a clue how to deal with these tax issues, let alone have the nerve to pick up the phone to the US without reading this step-by step guide.
    A load is suddenly lifted from my shoulders. Thank you!

  141. Fiona Campbell December 23, 2012 at 10:52 #

    Thank you so much for this Catherine and for everyone else who collated all this valuable information. Now have my EIN number and sending W8-BEN form, without your post I wold not have know where to start

  142. Ramón Gallegos (@RamonGallegos_) January 2, 2013 at 18:53 #

    THANK YOU!!!!!!! only god knows how thankful i am for this post. I am a indie writer from Guadalajara (México) and i’m starting my own ebooks company. At first, i have to admit it, i was kind of scared. But it was so easy i could not believe it!! it took me like 30 minutes and now i have my EIN

    THANK YOU SO MUCH!! :D <3

    • Sonja January 15, 2013 at 23:35 #

      Thank you so very much Catherine and David for this wonderful advice.

      Unfortunately I am not clear about the *tax treaty article number* and the % for the ‘Withholding rate’ for Denmark.

      Please help….

      Thanks in advance,

      Sonja

  143. Mary M Ryan January 21, 2013 at 18:07 #

    Hello there, I’ve been reading through all this US tax-related information (as well as all of Catherine’s other posts!) and I find it fascinating. I’m currently preparing a novel for submission and was hoping you could please help me with a query.

    I live in Ireland and my plan is to start querying the “traditional” way (via agents, etc) but if that doesn’t happen I’m going to try self-publishing. Seeing as I’m being wildly (foolishly?) optimistic about getting a book deal the traditional way, I’m at least going to be prepared. I note that the info here relates to self-publishers in non-US countries but what about people working with publishers in the US? (I ask because I feel my genre would find a more natural home in the US and so I’ll be submitted there). In the event of getting a deal, would I need the ITIN? Or would an EIN suffice? Any assistance AT ALL would be so very much appreciated! :)

    By the way, thanks for such amazing posts, keep it up!

    • catherineryanhoward January 22, 2013 at 14:01 #

      I’ve no idea but presumably you’d have an agent, and they’d advise you on that.

      • Joanne February 24, 2013 at 05:57 #

        If anyone has more information on this, I’d be grateful, too. I got my EIN last year following the wonderful advice from Catherine and David, and got sorted with Amazon and Createspace. Now I’m querying a new project and just got turned down by a US agent because the tax issues would be “too complicated” for a small agency like theirs. I would love to know if my EIN would still be in operation for non-self-published books. Anybody know? PLease?

        • catherineryanhoward February 24, 2013 at 13:48 #

          Joanne I have to say that being told by an agency that the tax issues would be too complicated is very suspicious. It’s not their responsibility, it’s yours. And you only need one tax number, whether it’s an ITIN or an EIN or a SSN, and you use that for all your US based income.

          • Joanne February 24, 2013 at 18:03 #

            Thanks, Catherine. Appreciated.

    • MC Xander January 23, 2013 at 18:20 #

      So, apart from massive thankyous for David, Catherine and all the gang, just wanted to let you know that this process of going after the EIN worked today for me and I’m a MUSIC self-publisher! basically I am a UK artist who distributes my music through an american distributer (tunecore) and was not relishing the prospect of the ITIN procuring rigmarole. Did exactly as you said, was on hold for about 30 minutes, but when I got through, everything went swimmingly. They didn’t even mention form SS-4! a thousand thanks, can now finally get my publishing royalties.

      • BJ Harvey January 24, 2013 at 23:49 #

        I am so thankful that I was sent this link. A 60 min phone call from NZ (45 mins of that on hold) and I now have an EIN. Now I just have to send the paperwork off :)

  144. Lene January 27, 2013 at 17:49 #

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! When you look at the one-page EIN form and the six pages of tiny print instructions on how to fill in the form, it is all very intimidating. Thanks to you, it got much easier. Spent 20 minutes with the IRS, 15 of which were on hold. Talked to a very serious and humorless guy who was completely thrown by my Canadian informality. That was sort of enjoyable. ;) I angsted about the call before making it, but it was all completely painless. Also thank you for the guide to the W8-BEN. I did read the IRS instructions (this time seven pages), but in the end, just followed what you said. W8-BEN will be going in the mail the minute I hit publish. Thanks for the virtual handholding!

  145. Nick P January 29, 2013 at 15:29 #

    Hi
    Just got the courage and made the phone call, took less than 8 minutes total :-)
    Thanks for this straightforward, and easy to use advice.

    What happens to the 30% that was withheld last year – do I have to claim it, or will it be refunded via Amazon automatically?

    • JB Rowley January 29, 2013 at 20:22 #

      I asked Amazon about the 30% already withheld and they indicated they were unable to refund that. This is their reply:
      Unfortunately, we will not be able to refund any previously withheld amounts. I recommend consulting a tax advisor for guidance on how to obtain a refund from the IRS if you are eligible. Those amounts previously withheld from your payments have already been remitted to the IRS. Many non-US vendors choose to incur the 30% withholding on payments made throughout the year, then claim a refund after we issue the Form 1042S, which is the statement we issue to you and the IRS to report your gross royalties and any amounts withheld.

      JB :-)

    • catherineryanhoward January 29, 2013 at 20:57 #

      Hi Nick

      When I submitted my W8 I was refunded all the tax withheld from me to date since the start of that calendar year from Createspace and Amazon, and to get anything else I had to file a US tax return. Smashwords however told me there was nothing to refund because anything they’d withheld had been paid immediately to the IRS. Now it would seem that Amazon are doing that too.

      I used TaxBack.com to file my US tax return and get my refund. They’re fab. For a small fee (I think I paid $75) they take care of everything, and if there’s any problem (like the IRS being super picky about forms) they sort it out. Took about 8-10 weeks to go through.

  146. WL Yuen January 30, 2013 at 16:59 #

    Thanks Catherine so much for this post. I’ve referred to it number of times as I wade through the minefield of US tax. A special thanks for the walkthrough – I was very nervous phoning them up. Without your and David’s help, the process would have been even more excruciating! Cheers!

  147. Leo Madigan January 31, 2013 at 23:00 #

    A thousand thanks, Catherine, for your generosity. Your instructions re EIN are so admirable; I followed them to the letter and was given the number in no time. Buy yourself a big box of chocolates and bill me. Leo Madigan. Portugal.

  148. Pooja Basu February 2, 2013 at 15:30 #

    I’m probably the first Indian author on this blog – incidentally the Article number for India is 12 & withholding % is 15% for India… fellow Indian authors can thank me for saving them the time, effort and trouble (not to mention sheer boredom!) of having to go through the long drawn Indo-US tax treaty by picking up my book on Amazon ‘Murder at Rutherford Hall’ written under my pen name PB Kolleri ;) Fair deal, don’t you think! Thanks a ton for the fantastic EIN info. Got mine in 5 mins flat! 15% saved is 15% earned!

    • Ashutosh Kumar February 28, 2013 at 05:37 #

      Hi Pooja,
      I think you have misquoted:it should be 20% instead of 15%. 15% is applicable only if the payer is a govt agency. quoting verbatim below:

      “i) during the first five taxable years for which this Convention has effect,
      (A) 15 percent of the gross am
      ount of the royalties or fees for included
      services as defined in this Article, where the payer of the royalties or fees is the Government of that Contracting State, a political subdivision or a public sector company; and
      (B) 20 percent of the gross amoun t of the royalties or fees for included
      services in all other cases; and”

      please clarify if it wud be still 15% even if the purchase is made by general public ?

      • indoo May 2, 2013 at 06:05 #

        Great blog, Saved so much trouble!!
        thanks Pooja!!
        Ashutosh according to http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p515.pdf
        Table 1. Page 40
        Withholding Tax Rates on Income Other Than Personal Service Income Under Chapter 3, Internal
        Revenue Code, and Income Tax Treaties—For Withholding in 2013
        It looks like it is 15%

    • graphire78 March 5, 2013 at 07:53 #

      Thx for the info. Appreciate it :)

      Yes, I’ll pick up a copy of your novel as a fellow Indian author :)

      Considering how sweet & polite the IRS lady was for the EIN last evng, the obnoxious, frustrated middle aged ladieslog at the Andheri Head post office in Mumbai was a nightmare & gave me enough grief just because I had not formatted the address on the envelope according to her bureaucratic wet dreams :D

      Finally told the cow, send the letter as is to Amazon for Rs 607 & if it does not go through, will send another one & another one till one reaches them.

      Cheers & all the very best for your future novels!

  149. FK February 7, 2013 at 13:48 #

    Yihaa! Thanks a million. This really works! Calling the IRS was a bit scary when you’re not a native English speaker, but the lady who helped me spoke worse English than I do :)

    Got an EIN on the fly, activated and working.

    Success! Key words for me were “sole proprietor” and “banking purposes.”

    I have already been able to get two separate US bank accounts online, without even setting my foot in the country, setting up a LLC or having to pay a third party a dime.

    AMAZING

    • vesela February 15, 2013 at 14:07 #

      I guess it`s my turn to say a big THANK YOU for all that useful information! I called an hour ago and got my EIN number without waiting at all (it was something like 7.30 am in Philadelphia).
      Now I am reading all this treaties and tables and cannot figure out what is the article number for Bulgaria? Where do you find this article numbers? (I think the % for Bulgaria is 5)
      Thanks again!!!

  150. Lambert Nagle February 18, 2013 at 18:00 #

    Reblogged this on lambertnagle and commented:
    I’ re-blogging this as the advice is so good. The options when the IRS finally do answer the phone (my call took 25 minutes on a Thursday night at 22.00 UK time to get through) have recently changed. You now need to Press 1 to get an Employee Identification Number.

  151. E. M. Katherine February 21, 2013 at 16:52 #

    THANK YOU!!

    I am from Romania and I am very new at this. I can prepare myself now to call them on US (omg need to take care with the damn timezone) and get my w8 from IRS. I have a question though. At the company name, I can say my own name?
    Thank you very much.

    • mikeormsby February 21, 2013 at 18:06 #

      Yes, EMK, probably best if you use your own name.

      • E. M. Katherine February 22, 2013 at 20:48 #

        Thank you very much. I am so.. Idk how to say.. excited, but kind of mad because I know that I can earn more than with a publishing house, but I hate the paperwork. I hate even the Romanian forms…

        • E. M. Katherine February 22, 2013 at 20:49 #

          than with a publishing house**

  152. Isabel Dare February 22, 2013 at 14:50 #

    Thank you SO MUCH for this post, Catherine and David! It’s a much-needed source of information.

    I followed your list steps, got my EIN, and just now filled out my W8-BEN forms. Hurray!

  153. Julio February 22, 2013 at 15:06 #

    Hey. Thank you so so much!!
    I posted a comment as a reply last week. But i had no answer :( I was wondering if there is something to do if the country where I live -Argentina- does not have a treat with the US. I can get the EIN. But I can’t send the W8-BEN form.
    Do you know if there is another way?
    Thanks!

  154. calvin March 1, 2013 at 08:27 #

    How would dealing with a pen name work in all of this? I’d rather not use my real name.

    • catherineryanhoward March 1, 2013 at 21:13 #

      It has no affect on it whatsoever, because all payments, etc. involve your real name.

  155. graphire78 March 4, 2013 at 13:52 #

    I called at 5:30pm (Indian Std Time) on a Monday which is 7am on the East Coast – that is about 2 hours prior to posting this.

    Pressed 3 & got through to a very polite lady at 7:02am.
    At 7:15am, I had an EIN :) Thank you.

    Considering I have an Indian name & a slightly complicated address, it took sometime to get the spellings correct when she read them back.

    Here are a few Qs/tips from my phone call:

    1. I am Sole proprietor & that business is done under my name.
    2. No, I do not have an incorporated LLC.

    3. No, I do not have a SSN & I have not applied for an EIN earlier.
    4. No, I am not going to have any employees in the US in the next 12 months.

    5. When did I start my business? Gave the date.
    6. Am I into retail or wholesale sale of ebooks? Retail sale of ebooks.

    7. I am a Sole proprietor selling ebooks on Amazon.com
    8. the reason for getting an EIN was compliance with IRS Withholding instructions.

    9. Yes, my heart was pounding at 180 BPM as I dialed the number, by the time the soft-spoken lady on the other end had introduced yourself, I was back to me calm self & it was smooth sailing.
    10. Now that I have finished doing cart wheels & calling everyone about getting an EIN, here I am typing this out :D

    All the very best to those yet to make the call. Cheers :) :)

    • graphire78 March 4, 2013 at 13:56 #

      Erratum: 9…by the time the soft-spoken lady on the other end had introduced herself…

    • indoo May 2, 2013 at 06:06 #

      Thanks A Lot! Great Help…

    • Lakshmi September 14, 2013 at 12:03 #

      Here is another Indian author. This blog and your detailed info were highly helpful to me too.I called at IST 6 p.m. and a good sounding lady answered the phone. She even introduced herself to me with her name and badge number. Within about 20 minutes everything was over and I got my number. Thanks a ton….!

  156. Sardax March 4, 2013 at 15:41 #

    Hello and thank you Catherine and David for your invaluable advice concerning Tax. My Publisher and I are about to submit the W-8BEN now having received the EIC number , and now to avoid the pain of rejection just wish to clarify that when we are asked for “1. Your full legal name.” is this the name of the publishing company -the Ltd Co or the name of the individual applying? Sorry but the notes are rather dense. Thank you

  157. David Wailing March 4, 2013 at 16:25 #

    I would like to add my thanks to everyone who made this such an easy process. I’ve been putting this off for months!

    When I called, after pressing #2, there was a sub-menu which gave five further options. None of them sounded right so I stayed on the line, waited about ten minutes and spoke to someone. But when I explained I was applying for an EIN, she said she needed to transfer me to their business department. This was a further five minute wait before speaking to a lady who went through the entire SS-4 form with me over the phone. About ten more minutes later, I had my EIN!

    So I’m not sure which of the five sub-menu options I should have chosen, but it didn’t matter as I was redirected to the correct department anyway.

  158. Jan Anguita March 12, 2013 at 12:43 #

    When I first read this post and all the comments, I thought: “it sounds too easy, maybe it worked for all of them, but it surely won’t for me”. But, guess what, it did! I just called and I have my EIN!! Thanks a lot!!

  159. Rikki Donachie March 12, 2013 at 16:12 #

    Thank you so much for this post. I’ve just come off the phone with my EIN number :)

    There was a very long wait on the phone before I was connected – to keep one’s phone bills down I would suggest visiting http://www.18185.com first, to register for very cheap calls – only 1p per minute from the UK to the US. So this phone call only cost me about 30p.

  160. Terry Hunton March 13, 2013 at 15:50 #

    Thanks for the advice re completion of the W-8BEN Form.
    However you only refer to questions 9a and9b under Part 11.
    Can you advise re questions 9b, and 9c .
    which all start with the wording ” the beneficial owner is not an individual”

    This seems to contradict previous advice .

    Is this because it is anew form?

    Thank you.

  161. Terry Hunton March 13, 2013 at 15:52 #

    Sorry -I should have typed questions 9c and 9e

  162. Terry Hunton March 13, 2013 at 16:18 #

    Obviously going mad – 9c and 9d. ( checked before sending this time -sorry

  163. Heather March 14, 2013 at 16:57 #

    This all sounds great – one question and I’ll try to keep it short. I am sole proprietor of a publishing company that mainly deals with printed publications that we would be recreating on iBooks author on clients’ behalf. Is the EIN right for this?

    • catherineryanhoward March 14, 2013 at 19:32 #

      I *think* so, yes, but I’m not an expert…

      • sibelhodge (@sibelhodge) March 20, 2013 at 07:04 #

        Great post, guys! Do you know what happens after all of this? I’m getting conflicting information about whether we need to file a US tax return with a treaty form, even though we’re not due to pay any tax because we have the EIN. As I understand it, the companies who pay us royalties after we submit the W8BEN send us a 1042S form, and I’ve been told I’ll need to send that, along with a US tax return form and treaty form to the IRS. Is that a requirement?

        Thanks so much for your help :)

        • catherineryanhoward March 20, 2013 at 11:20 #

          I’m *not* an expert and this is not to be taken as legal advice, but this is what I was told:

          Technically, you should file an annual US tax return even if your tax withholdings/tax payable is zero, because you have an EIN or ITIN.

          But…

          The IRS have bigger fish to fry—WAY bigger fish—and after the dawn of KDP, Smashwords, etc. you can imagine how self-publishers would be filing 0.00 tax returns, just for a technicality. They don’t care. That’s what I was told by a company here in Ireland who specialize in US tax and deal with the IRS on behalf of international clients all the time.

          Personally, I sent my W8 forms off to KDP, Smashwords and CreateSpace; filed a US tax return last year to get money that was owed to me from 2010 back (a withholding, prior to me getting my ITIN) and I’ve done nothing since and don’t plan to. Obviously I keep all my documentation including my 1042Ss, should I ever need them, but the only tax I worry about is the one payable in my own country.

          But again, this is *NOT* legal advice and shouldn’t be taken as such. I’m not an expert.

  164. Claire Chilton March 26, 2013 at 19:51 #

    Thank you for this, Catherine and David. It’s fantastic advice. After two years of trying to get an ITIN, it came down to the IRS expecting me to post my British passport to Texas (no thanks). So, I decided to try this method instead. And one phone call later, I have a shiny new EIN, which I’ve not only printed several copies of, but I’ve also had embroidered on my underwear, just in case.

    I don’t know if this is helpful, but when I called, the nice lady from the IRS asked me if I’d filled in an SS-4. At which point I said. “Oh, no. I better go and do that and get back to you. It’s just for selling my ebooks as a sole trader.” (because I am the kind of person who babbles somewhat). At which point she said. “Not a problem. I can do it for you on the telephone now, if you want?” To which I replied, “Yes please.” So even the SS-4 can be got around, if you get a nice person, and you are a bit of babbler. :)

  165. kareninglis March 29, 2013 at 11:42 #

    Hi Catherine – just popped here and have to own up to probably being the author who discovered the ‘get your EIN by phone’ method way back in January 2012! In my day (writing) job I’ve done quite a bit of consultancy for the UK’s HMRC website so wasn’t daunted by the prospect of delving into the the IRS website to try to find out how to get an EIN quickly… I found the phone number method buried in a page somewhere and thought I’d give it a go. I could hardly beleive it when within half an hour I had an EIN! I blogged about it at the time but my piece was mainly aimed at those applying as a limited company – which is not the majority of authors. However as you rightly point out this process is also fine for sole traders.

    On the tax front, one thing that your UK author readers might want to do is check out my other article: Paying UK Income Tax on Book Royalties – UK Authors. I say this because those UK authors who are not limited companies but apply for an EIN as a sole trader do need to register as self-employed (which is not the same as setting up a company) – and then pay tax through a tax return. However if earnings are low you can apply to be excepted – here is the link to my article for those interested >> http://kareninglis.wordpress.com/paying-uk-income-tax-on-book-royalties-uk-authors/ You can set up as self-employed over the phone… Ah tax!

  166. skrivarprat April 2, 2013 at 17:02 #

    This is a great help for all independent authors! Thank you so much, Catherine and David.

    Now all I wonder is what the blasted number for Sweden is on the W8-form… I found the tax rate, and it was 0% (which is great by the way), but I still need the number for Sweden.

    Anyone who can help me with this?

    Thanks.

    /Johanna

    • JB Rowley April 3, 2013 at 06:08 #

      If I am reading Table 1 (Income Code Number) correctly, the number for Sweden is 12.

      • skrivarprat April 3, 2013 at 23:19 #

        Thank you so much for the help.

        I get completely turned around by official documents. :D

        /Johanna

        • JB Rowley April 3, 2013 at 23:26 #

          You’re very welcome. Good luck. JB :-)

  167. Peter Lloyd April 3, 2013 at 06:47 #

    This was an outstandingly useful guide. Many thanks for posting it.

  168. Louise Harnby April 8, 2013 at 12:33 #

    I’m based in the UK and I’ve spent a week looking at various forms for ITINS, contacting Smashwords and Amazon for the relevant information, and wondering how long it’s all going to take for the various bits and pieces to come through so that I can fill in a W-7. And then I found this. I called the IRS at midday, was held in a queue for 2 minutes, then spoke to a lovely woman who issued me with my EIN 5 minutes later. Can’t thank you both enough for this brilliant, brilliant article. I can now get on with the W8BEN. This article has saved me at least a month of faffing around. I want to hug Catherine, David and the IRS for a seamless solution!

  169. Angie April 9, 2013 at 02:24 #

    I just called up the IRS after being in the self-publishing game since 2011, and I finally got my EIN. I am so grateful to you right now. Thank you so, so, so, sooooo much!!!!!

  170. Karl Drinkwater April 9, 2013 at 18:21 #

    Thanks! It worked! Blogged about it here – http://karldrinkwater.blogspot.com/2013/04/us-tax-numbers-and-uk-writers-ein-itin.html
    You’re all lovely and helpful! :-)

  171. jim April 9, 2013 at 18:45 #

    You rock, just did all three after being turned down on the 8 page form, and not getting anyplace with IRS staff on phone… this was simple, with your instructions. I am very thankful, and this has reduced my stress of 4 years over this.

  172. Karl Drinkwater April 12, 2013 at 15:20 #

    The Smashwords address for sending a W-8BEN form to has changed. It is now:

    Smashwords, Inc.
    Attn: Tax Compliance Dept.
    PO Box 11817
    Bainbridge Island, WA USA 98110

    http://www.smashwords.com/about/supportfaq#ITIN

  173. Debbie McEwan April 15, 2013 at 16:18 #

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! Spoke to a very helpful lady at the IRS and it’s taken me 11 minutes to get my EIN. Your very helpful article has saved me so much time, much appreciated.

  174. Stephen Timoney April 16, 2013 at 15:12 #

    Catherine, David thanks for your brill advice!!!
    This internet is great not only did I find out how to fix the washing machine for my heavily pregnant wife but I also spoke to Mrs. Baine who provided me with my EIN number.
    Time to sit down now and bask in the glory…

  175. DB April 19, 2013 at 20:14 #

    What could happen if I just call and get an EIN if I have not a company in Germany were I live. Because I publish ebooks on Amazon and that 30% tax is a lot of money. I see they don’t control your business so what can happen?……

  176. mikeormsby April 20, 2013 at 04:52 #

    Friends, be careful: look closely at your ‘Remittance Advice’ emails from Amazon, when they come. Here’s why. Like many of us, I recently gained (thanks to advice from Our Fearless Caffeinated Leader & David Gaughran) my EIN. I submitted my W8-BEN forms, to KDP, CreateSpace etc. I duly received a reply – my forms had been received, approved, processed, all was well. Surprise, surprise, several months later, I noticed they were STILL ‘withholding’ royalties on my account. I wrote to them, asking how come, seeing as I had my EIN? They wrote back telling me “to please file a W8-BEN”. I told them I already had, months ago. They wrote again, saying they had “no record on file” of my W8. I sent them back their previous emails wherein they had confirmed receiving my EIN. They said, “Oh, yeah, you’re right, sorry about that… we have your W8 on file, we’ll stop withholding, from next month.” So, watch out. KDP and CSpace are the bees-knees at customer service, prompt and helpful, BUT they’re also Human Beans. Life is soup. It’s a bungle, out there.

  177. Colette Casey April 22, 2013 at 22:26 #

    Just wanted to add to the thanks folks – found things exactly as you said. Cheers too for all the follow-up comments, as it has helped me to understand a process I am new too. I phoned on a Monday afternoon US time and waited about 30 minutes but it was worth it to get my EIN within 5 mins after a chat with a pleasant lady on the other end of the line. Thanks!

  178. radford46 April 23, 2013 at 19:19 #

    Hi Dave Just to let you know that the IRS department for the EIN has moved to Ohio. The number folks should now call is 1-267-941-1000 (The 1009 is neither one thing nor the other and can be confusing. So it’s the 1000 number and then click 2 and then 2 again. I did notice on their instructions that the EIN only lasts for 3 years and then one must apply again. Check out the IRS website. Please respond.

  179. radford46 April 23, 2013 at 20:36 #

    EIN registration has now moved to Ohio. The number is 1-267-941-1000 (not 1009). Then press 2 and 2. I also noted from the IRS website that the EIN registration is only valid for three years and then has to be renewed.

    • bats666 May 1, 2013 at 15:03 #

      When I got thru to the number *** 1000 it was press 1 for EIN, not 2. For some reason it did not recognise my tone phone and ignored any attempt to key in 1….or any other number for that matter! I was then put on hold after failing to get thru on any number and finally got thru to speak to someone after10 minutes. I was told I was thru to the wrong Dept (no surprise there) and that I should have pressed 3 then 3 on the 1000 number (even though 3 wasn’t the option for the EIN).
      Another 10 minute wait and a 7 minute chat and I have my EIN. The lady said for a sole trader the EIN does NOT expire. I didn’t ask if it would make any difference if I was a LTD Co. Maybe that’s when the 3 year rule applies? Thanks all!

  180. Cyberella April 25, 2013 at 22:32 #

    Dear Sirs, you won’t believe how helpful this post is – you probably do. I am a Greek self publisher and I was on the phone with the IRS today for more than 45 minutes, waiting. Finally I talked to a lady who was only able to give me instructions on how to apply for ITIN. She also said that I should ask from Apple a document of some sort (!) My experience talking with an IRS lady, was like talking to a robot, or probably a polite cyborg.
    I was desperate and couldn’t believe that someone non-US resident would have to go through this hell to get his/her book published. I thought it was all about ITIN and not EIN. I will follow your very detailed steps.

    Thank you very much for the advice.
    Cheers from Athens.

    PS: Greek IRS is much worst, the civil servants are not as police as the US, but they can help you with what you need – ah, well you can’t have it all.

  181. Marti April 26, 2013 at 06:10 #

    Great post – thanks so much. I’m Australian and can confirm Article 12 and claim of 5 percent. Didn’t quite know how to initially find the article reference number but figured it out after looking up the ones listed for Canada and Ireland. Maybe additional text could be added indicating to lookup up the ‘Royalties’ section number.
    Once again, thanks so much
    Marti

    • Lis Sowerbutts April 29, 2013 at 23:54 #

      OK this all worked just fine but then I submitted a 1040NR in order to reclaim the tax over-paid from the previous year. I’ve just received a notice from IRS saying that they can’t match my EIN to my name – which is hardly surprising because it’s not a SSN or an ITIN.

      I called them and it appears that in order to get previous tax withheld back from previous year you need to have an ITIN – hte EIN solves the issue going forward – but doesn’t get any money back which has been overpaid in the past.

  182. fortress of monotheism May 5, 2013 at 23:03 #

    Thanks for this helped a lot about the ein.

  183. Paul May 7, 2013 at 17:51 #

    So if you get an EIN or an ITIN do you have to file yearly Tax returns in the US?

    • catherineryanhoward May 7, 2013 at 18:46 #

      Please read through the comments above. This question has already been answered.

      • Paul May 7, 2013 at 19:14 #

        Hi Catherine,

        The answer in the comments above came from the UK tax authority.

        I would warn anyone be careful advice from a UK tax authority, because ultimately the UK tax authority is not the IRS. I don’t want to get stopped at the border when I holiday there, so I’m being careful.

        I just called the IRS 5 minutes ago and the IRS lady on the phone told me that I definitely need to file a tax return if I have an EIN.

        Even if I have filled out a W8-BEN form.

        She said I wouldn’t need to if I had a ITIN though, but then that defeats the purpose of this article (which was very enlightening, thank you btw I now have an EIN)

        • catherineryanhoward May 7, 2013 at 19:33 #

          Ok Paul thanks. I’m going to add that info to the update at the top…

          • bats666 May 8, 2013 at 04:15 #

            After a quick read thru of the IRS website, it would appear that you will have to render a tax return to the IRS if you want a refund of withheld tax or your US income is over $3,800. Under $3,800 is tax free.
            Any other comments most welcome.

            • Paul May 8, 2013 at 21:47 #

              I rang the IRS again and double checked that. The lady I spoke to this time told me that your information is true IF you have an ITIN. She said if you have an EIN, then you need to submit yearly tax returns. That’s because ITIN’s are for individuals but EIN’s are for business’s/partnerships/companies.

              • Yorgos May 14, 2013 at 03:37 #

                “I just called the IRS 5 minutes ago and the IRS lady on the phone told me that I definitely need to file a tax return if I have an EIN. ”

                “She said if you have an EIN, then you need to submit yearly tax returns. That’s because ITIN’s are for individuals but EIN’s are for business’s/partnerships/companies.”

                Hi Paul I would like to respond to the information you were given.

                First off please understand that I also spoke to the IRS agent (in my case an upper level agent):

                The information the ladies at the IRS gave you is inaccurate. Let me explain:

                yes if you have an EIN you have to file yearly by default but only *** IF ****you are not exempted. Did you tell her you were speaking of a corporation (EIN) —>

                . a) not based in the US (no offices) b) not present in the US c) you have no US employees?

                and that you do not sell in the US but license copyright to amazon.

                If you did not tell her this then of course your company (even if its a company of one) must file taxes. (they are assuming like most EIN requestors you have a corp doing some sort of direct business in the US)

                But this does not apply if you have the above a,b,c criteria and yet have a corporation.

                The form that the IRS mentions or sends you by default (form1120F) is for companies that have a US PRESENCE.

                IRS automatically assumes you have such a presence when you have a company and thus sends you that.

                I phoned the IRS and spoke to a higher up IRS agent and he verified this. Also you can see it for yourself if you take the time to read the instructions for filing out the form 1120 F .

                In my earlier post I did not go into the details but Ill try to now. To clear this matter up you have to actually read the instructions of 1120F (the form EIN holders are to fill out).

                remember this form is also used by all foreign companies –that means this includes companies with offices in the US, employees, branches etc! (teh majority of EIN holders)

                Now in the instructions of 1120F it says you are exempted under certain conditions (as the IRS agent pointed out to me):

                quote (from instructions of 1120F page 2 under “who must file:)

                location here of this doc is here:

                http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/i1120f.pdf

                ” a
                foreign corporation must file Form 1120-F
                ***IF***, during the tax year, the corporation:

                Was not engaged in a trade or business
                in the United States, but had income from
                any U.S. source, ***IF*** ITS TAX LIABILITY HAS *** N O T ****
                BEEN FULLY SATISFIED OF TAX AT SOURCE under chapter 3 of the Code”

                [***emphasis mine***]

                You must be careful in reading this though because it is legalize of a sort and every word and phrase means something. For example selling your ebooks via amazon is not “trade or business **IN** the united states because amazon sold your ebooks in the USA –NOT YOU).

                Now going back to the paragraph above: your tax liability is FULLY SATISFIED at the withholding source (ie amazon.com) an American company therefore you are NOT required to file IRS taxes at all.

                If you have other investments in the usa with your company or if you set up a little office to ship some books etc then that is a different story.

                When you license ebooks to amazon usa you are conducting YOUR business from YOUR country and Amazon USA is selling them for you. THEY are conducting trade in the US not you.

                Now without the tax treaty the US has with many countries (see my original posts above under ‘yorgo’ for the tax treaty link) you would STILL pay a percentage of your profits to the IRS even though you would pay taxes to your country on them too. This would be unfair and that is why the US and many countries made these treaties in the first place– to stop double taxation.

                So amazon keeps the withholding part that your country and the US have agreed on (can be from 0% (as it is for Canada my country) or up to 30%)

                AMAZON USA then reports and FILES everything needed to the IRS.

                Now notice the lady you spoke to said if you have an ITIN you do NOT file but if you have an EIN you do file?

                Do you know why she said this?

                Its because she knows ITIN requestors (the vast majority by far) are foreigners (individuals) not based in the US who are publishing ebooks through some us company (apple, amazon etc). But she assumes that EIN requstors is a corporation that would have some sort of presence in the usa –since MOST EINS are given to such companies!

                This is why the IRS by default sends you a note about form1120F –most companies (corporations) have some sort of presence in the US or directly conduct business there that makes them a profit not completely satisfied entirely by the tax treaty (because they have offices in the US, employees, or own properties and collect rent, interest payments from investments etc).

                When your corporation is the same as an individual person foreigner publishing ebooks with no presence in the USA (ie like a self publisher on amazon publishing his/her ebooks through amazon usa) you are exempt because all your tax obligations are all satisfied via the tax treaty. such a ‘corporation’ publisher is the same as person self publisher.

                What is the difference between an self publisher say in Ireland with an ITIN who publishes thru amazon usa and a self publisher whose formed a corporation who does the same thing. –there is no difference both are under the same tax treaty.

                HOWEVER many corporations are not one man self publishers but actual corporations with branches and other direct presence in the US.

                As soon as I told the IRS agent that I have no presence in the US but am publishing ebooks via amazon he told me that is the same as having an ITIN and expunged my form1120F ‘requirement’ from my EIN account on his computer.

                Your tax obligations to the USA are entirely met by the withholding tax/tax treaty arrangement your country has with the US

                By the way if you have an ITIN and you live in the US you DO FILE tax forms., but she (the IRS lady) did not tell you this because she knew you were an ebook self publisher living in another country and a foreigner. Tell her “Im living in the US” and see what she says then!

                So when those ladies said you do not –they understood you were a foreigner based in your country selling ebooks. This IS THE SAME if you have a corporation based in your country selling ebooks.

                So ‘yes’ if you have an EIN you file but ONLY if the entirety of your tax obligation to the IRS is not met by the tax treaty. Guess what? –for publishers it IS met by the tax treaty if you are licensing your copyright to amazon usa and you are in your country with no offices etc in the US.

                By the way in the quote above where it mentions “chapter 3 of the code”–that is the US tax code and chapter 3 addresses tax withholding of foreginers:

                http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/26/subtitle-A/chapter-3/subchapter-A

                The only way your tax obligations are NOT fulfilled by the wit holding(if any due to the tax treaty ) is if you conducted business not covered by the treaty.

                PS
                Now if you read on 1120F instructions it mentions ‘losing’ tax treaty exemption privilege –again that is for companies directly selling in the us who can still claim tax treaty privilege. You are NOT selling in the US –you licensed your ebook to amazon and THEY are selling in the USA. This means you do have an obligation but it is only thru the US conmpany you are dealing with. And that company needs to follow chapter 3 of the code (withholding) whether you are an ITIN holder or an EIN holder. And in BOTH those cases if you are based entirely in your country your only obligations is through amazon and the w8ben.

                Im sorry but whoever said this is not enough and you still have to file if you have an EIN AND you are entirely based outside of the USA –is completely wrong and does not understand the IRS arrangement with nonresident alien companies.

                PPS
                Also make sure you speak to the IRS dept dealing with ITIN and EIN –I find other IRS agents are all too quick to give you advice that is wrong (most of them are only informed about their own depts –there are ITIN and EIN IRS reps who deal with domestic calls –many of them dont know what the international IRS dept knows)

                “I just called the IRS 5 minutes ago and the IRS lady on the phone told me that I definitely need to file a tax return if I have an EIN.

                Even if I have filled out a W8-BEN form.”

                Nope that is completely wrong. And I bet dollars to donuts she was thinking along the lines I outlined above. Paul if you are not in the US and do not directly make money from US based actions your only tax obligations to the IRS are THRU the withholding tax (and filtered thru the tax treaty)

                The whole point of the W8BEN is to show your entire tax obligations to the US govt are met through the withholding source (amazon usa) AND if you have any break from having to give the full 30% to them.

                Im sorry but that lady you spoke to is wrong.

                Pardon the long email Catherine (mea culpa) but I had a long discussion with the upper IRS agent at the foreign office and I know this information is correct. I want to reassure other EIN /w8BEN holders that you do not have obligations that are different to the those of ITIN/w8ben holders IF you act in the same way (ie not based in the US etc as above and in the 1120F instructions).

                • Yorgos May 14, 2013 at 03:39 #

                  correction:

                  “1120F (the form EIN holders are to fill out).”

                  that is EIN holders who are not exempt (ie because they have a direct connection to the US or sell in the usa or not entirely through a USA tax withholding agent such as amazon or apple etc)

                  • Yorgos May 14, 2013 at 04:15 #

                    by the way to reinforce all the above: if you go to amazon for ‘non-us publishers’ and go to page

                    https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help?topicId=A1VDYJ32T5D3U4

                    AND SCROLL TO THE VERY BOTTOM

                    under “tax reporting” notice amazon files ON YOUR BEHALF.

                    you see that’s another reason you are not required to do so (its against the law to file twice btw–not that you would want to).

                    now click onto the pdf of form 1042S (the tax form AMAZON files on your behalf). Notice it has a space on the form for amazon staff to click on EIN or ITIN. That should clinch it for any skeptics out there. you see this is a tax form on your behalf to that is filed by amazon FOR YOU.

                    The ONLY reason for you to file would be if you were selling directly without amazon (or apple, or Draft2Digital etc) and fell out of the exemptions as I explained above.

                    and to all a good night.

                    • Yorgos May 14, 2013 at 04:19 #

                      if there is no pdf link for form 1042S just go to the IRS link and find it . here it is:

                      http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1042s.pdf

                      1042S is to file taxes on behalf of those who do not need to file and who have a deal with you (amazon or usa company).

                    • Catherine Gardiner May 14, 2013 at 16:00 #

                      I am a little confused and it might be because I am over-tired but you mentioned about corporations and I got lost. I am a sole trader not a corp does that mean I can’t get a EIN?

                    • catherineryanhoward May 14, 2013 at 16:17 #

                      No, you can Catherine. You can get an EIN.

                    • Shelly September 20, 2013 at 19:27 #

                      I joined publishing on amazon over a year ago. I followed all the instructions to get my EIN. I filled out the w-8BEN form no problems and submitted it to amazon. Then, didn’t hear anything else until recently. They sent me a request to fill out an online tax revision/confirmation on amazon to prove my information as they said what the IRS has does not correlate with what they have. I know they are not talking about the correct EIN number as I quadruple checked this before sending the form off. So, while do the online survey, it electronically shows the W-8BEN form, minus my EIN. But, the form wouldn’t allow me to add it to confirm this. So, I sent them an email. They are now telling me I need a TIN … I’m like WTF? what changed? I am wondering if, like you state above, do I need to call the IRS and get them to exempt me from this(this is what you wrote above): As soon as I told the IRS agent that I have no presence in the US but am publishing ebooks via amazon he told me that is the same as having an ITIN and expunged my form1120F ‘requirement’ from my EIN account on his computer.

                      Is this what I need to do so that my EIN is acceptable to amazon?

                      Thanks!

                    • Shelly September 20, 2013 at 19:58 #

                      Would you believe I just found the solution. Apparently, amazon seems to consider a ITIN and and EIN number the same thing. In the electronic online submission of filling out their tax interview, they ask, Do you have an ITIN? or (TIN). I said no, because I do not. I have an EIN, Answering NO to this changed my tax rate back to 30 percent. It has been a month and i was still stumped. So, I just logged back on and selected “Yes” and then it allowed me to choose either ITIN or EIN, and then enter the number. Duh.

                      So, problem fixed. Yes, I can have EIN … It is just not listed as an individual number in the first instance.

                    • Malene January 1, 2014 at 02:27 #

                      Thank you so much for this information Yorgos!! It makes perfect sense. Thanks for breaking down all of that legal mumble.

                      Just one question; a previous comment revealed that the first $3,800 is tax free in terms of earnings. I would assume, based on your post, that this would apply to a company – not people with ITINs getting royalty checks? In other words, an author from Canada should be able to make anything from $1 to $1,000,000 without paying a dime to the IRS in taxes thanks to the tax treaty between US and Canada?

                      Thanks a bunch!

                  • DebbyGies (D.G.Kaye) August 13, 2013 at 21:07 #

                    Thanks to this wonderful site which I constantly refer to as one of my ‘publishing bibles’! I have spent many hours coming back to this blog over time to see if I can obtain more fabulous info from everybody’s generous experience. I would like to know though if since all you lucky people have already obtained your EIN’s last year, did anyone have problems when it came to filing time in 2013? Also, as I am just preparing to self publish my first book and still learning the
                    ropes, am I to assume that all royalties are paid in U.S. funds? And if so, (this question now directed to fellow Canadians), what happens when we file our income for our Canadian taxes, regarding, conversion rates from U.S. to CAD? My accountant doesn’t have these answers for me as he doesn’t deal with U.S. clients. I’m a little apprehensive because our dollar is so volatile and for example if we earned 20K one year and our dollar drastically dropped to say 50cents (scary thought but) our earnings would then be calculated on a much higher rate than the actual time of earning. Just food for thought and wondering what anyone’s experience has been? Thanks!

                  • melindatowg December 21, 2013 at 11:01 #

                    Thanks for all this great info, but please can I just check on the situation for people obtaining an EIN to sell through Apple? You mention it above as if it is the same as Amazon etc, but as far as I am aware, Apple do not act as a “USA tax withholding agent”, and do not withhold tax or send out any tax returns on your behalf at all. (You send in no W8-BEN form, and seem to be left to sort out US taxation all on your own).

                    As I am from the UK, which, I believe, has 0% to be “withheld” anyway, can I still claim to fit the criteria for being exempt from sending in annual tax returns to the US? (Surely, at least for my meagre expectations of monetary gain, all I would be doing was sending them a letter to say zero owed?)

                • catherineryanhoward May 14, 2013 at 09:54 #

                  Thanks for all your research! Greatly appreciated. I’ll add an update about it to the top.

                  • catherineryanhoward May 14, 2013 at 13:00 #

                    I’ve added the update with a direct link to your comment. Thanks for taking all this time to both research and type—hopefully it’ll be very helpful to future ITIN/EIN applicants! :-D

                    • Yorgos May 14, 2013 at 23:51 #

                      Hi Catherine

                      it took all of last night to look it all up and read through it all again but it was worth it because I know so many people read your blog,

                      Plus I am a fan of yours! Not just of your blog but of your books you are a fine and witty writer!

                      I have to apologize I don’t have a blog connected with my name (still under construction) but Ive been pouring over all IRS stuff as it relates to self pubbers for over a year now.

                • Johnny August 27, 2013 at 05:27 #

                  I just got a new notice from Amazon saying that Tax information incomplete, and request me to follow though an online fill out form (https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help?topicId=201274750) to complete the W8Ben form. I’ve sent the paper one to Amazon last year, but just got this tax information incomplete popping up in my KDP dashboard, anyone has this kind of issues as well?

                  • Liza Marie Kelly August 28, 2013 at 18:31 #

                    Hi Johnny

                    I sold $30 worth of my first Kindle book this June which arrived as promised at around GBR£20 into my bank account in the UK. I was sent the same email from KDP Select yesterday.. I had no idea about a US tax liability because I also have been selling on Clickbank for 2 years albeit also small amounts

                    My very experienced self-pub advisor (non-US resident) tells me he has never paid US tax on his sales in the US, but does not use Amazon or those platforms. I wondered whether it is because CB (a US corporation too) is the publisher and Amazon. etc, are licensees. He is baffled by this liability and apparent double taxation.

                    So am I! I filled out the online W8 BEN form and am told on the page that 30% withholding will be calculated as a UK resident. I have a form from the IRS that states clearly the zero pc withholding is applicable to UK residents for royalties – please check your own countries in this document:

                    http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p515.pdf

                    p.42 3rd from the bottom.

                    So, as I have founded a publications company (if that means registering with Nielsen and having specific ISBNs and calling the publisher XYZ instead of my real name .) and paying for the privilege – for one of my heavy duty projects.. I shall just do the same for publishing under my own name – Liza Kelly t/A Liza Kelly Publications but not
                    buy the ISBNs unless the IRS needs proof.. I somehow think this is very complicated given the incredible international scope of the licensee platforms with international authors presenting their books for sale on Amazon et al.

                    Forgive me if I have overlooked something obvious, but I am working my way through this wonderful support site.

  184. CantStrafeRight May 14, 2013 at 04:15 #

    I just wanted to thank you for this post. I’m not an author but as a video game developer I needed an EIN and this guide helped me get it in about 15 minutes. I asked about if I would need to file a tax return and was told it depends on the business, and there is no simple answer.

  185. Peyton Sloane May 14, 2013 at 16:50 #

    So grateful for all the info from everyone. From Canada called 267-941-1099 was on hold for about 10 minutes and before another 10 had passed had my EIN. My agent wasn’t too thrilled when I told her that I didn’t need the SS4 form, but I told her I had reviewed it so that helped. I also made sure I spelled out everything using words: “S as in Sam” etc. DONE!!!

    • Carolyn Mandache May 14, 2013 at 23:15 #

      Head’s kind of spinning! I’ve been trying to get an ITIN number to sell my book from CreateSpace on Amazon. I have my proof copy and can’t put it online till I get my ITIN, which is very frustrating. Tried sending the forms and passport to US embassy in London, as I read they could check it all, verify passport, and forward to IRS on your behalf. Everything returned with letter saying to go in person, and they don’t issue tax numbers (which I wasn’t asking them to do!) I’m going to the US in the summer, and am tempted to just show up at an IRS office there and see how I get on. What do you think?

      • catherineryanhoward May 15, 2013 at 12:35 #

        Carolyn, you can get an EIN instead if you like (read the instructions on this post) or if you want an ITIN and are having trouble, you can use a company like Taxback.com who will get it for you.

        I wouldn’t do it in person to be honest: I think they’d probably be a bit suspicious!

    • Yorgos May 14, 2013 at 23:52 #

      greetings fellow Canadian. Good luck and remember in Canada –ISBNS are free!

      • Yorgos May 15, 2013 at 00:07 #

        PS I dont want to keep posting on this matter (it would only be repeating) but for anybody reading this in the future:

        THE SHORT ANSWER (to whether you have to file tax if you have an EIN for Amazon rather than an ITIN) is

        No. Remember Amazon collects your tax, Amazon files your tax (form 1042S) and Amazon mails your tax.

        Think of it like this: If amazon collects $1000 from you and files on your behalf and sends it why would you file again? If you do that then you would be sending a 2nd $1000 to the IRS directly instead of your withholding agent (a us company like amazon that has collected your w8BEN).
        and that is ‘double taxation’ on the same item –its illegal and not required from any country.

        For future posters who might post on here and say: “oh but I talked to an IRS person and they said you do or dont or etc ” Please remember the IRS agents you speak to on the phone are bureaucratic phone service CLERKS. They are NOT tax advisers or specialists. Their job is to process as many ITINS and EIN requests as they can in a day. They have a few scripts they are to know and that’s it.

        form 1042S (has a section for Amazon to tick off ‘ITIN’ or ‘EIN’ on your behalf) when they send your tax obligation (if any) to the IRS.

        http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1042s.pdf

        THE LONG ANSWER (to whether you have to file tax if you have an EIN for Amazon rather than an ITIN) :

        1) scroll through all postings by ‘yorgos’ and read through

        Also remember in order To get your EIN in the 1st place and details on w8BEN –please read david’s post and Catherine’s updates. in the first place

        Please do not pay double taxes –it is your right!

        Amazon collects your tax, Amazon files your tax and Amazon mails your tax.

        Im bowing out now because I dont want to just start taking over this section with repetition.

        good luck everybody. thanks Catherine!

        • Yorgos May 15, 2013 at 00:26 #

          note to Catherine please edit above if you can. near where it says ‘long answer’ it should read:

          “THE LONG ANSWER (to whether you have to file tax if you have an EIN for Amazon rather than an ITIN) :

          1) scroll through all postings by ‘yorgos’ and read through

          Also remember in order To get your EIN in the 1st place and details on w8BEN –please read david’s post and Catherine’s updates. in the first place “

        • Marcela May 21, 2013 at 17:59 #

          Actually if you file a tax return after Amazon has sent your $1000 to the IRS (to follow your example) you wouldn’t be paying anything extra.
          The tax return has a space for “payments” already made, you enter your $1000 there.You calculate your tax at $1000 and $1000-$1000=$0. Unless of course you fill the form incorrectly.

          So filing a tax return would not do anything for you, it will only create more paperwork for the IRS…. now if that is what you want to do…

          However if Amazon has already withhold 30% tax and you are entitled to less tax due to a tax treaty, you will have to file a tax return to get the excess back.

  186. tracyebartley May 15, 2013 at 14:28 #

    This post has GREAT SEO! It’s right up there with Wikipedia in searching for EIN numbers – no small feat!

  187. Ian May 21, 2013 at 15:32 #

    Thank you very much for this web page and to all involved .. I have my EIN number!

    • Elle May 23, 2013 at 23:09 #

      I have my EIN and I have my withholding all sorted but I’m moving house (still in the UK) so I obviously need to the IRS this. What’s the easiest way of letting the IRS know I have a new address? I’m a bit confused if I need to call them/fill out some forms as a non-US withholding person. Any help would be much appreciated!

  188. Russell May 27, 2013 at 23:54 #

    Tippy-toeing around.. and apologising if I’ve missed something in the long thread above. I kinda have this idea in the back of my head that if I allow 30% withholding of let’s say 85% royalty (at Smashwords), that’s 25.5p in the pound. So overall (on a pound) I’d be losing 25.5p (to the IRS) + 15p (to Smashwords) = 40.5p on a pound. I’d take 60p in the pound for easy calculation.

    If I’m right on the above calculations, someone like me who would normally pay 55% tax burden here in the UK would probably be 15% better off by allowing the IRS to take their 30% cut (assuming that HMRC does not double-tax me on my 60p in the pound that I took from royalties). So assuming for the moment that my calculations are correct and relevant to my circumstances, does anyone have a reference that says that HMRC will not double tax if the IRS takes it’s cut? I have been searching the net for this answer, and not found it (as yet – will continue to search).

  189. Henri Junttila May 30, 2013 at 11:28 #

    Here’s the information for Finland. Article is 12 for royalties. 0% rate of withholding.

    Also a huge thank you for this article. I got my EIN in about 8 minutes. Got a friendly old lady on the phone who helped me.

    She asked if I had the forms in front of me and I said I do not. She said that’s okay and we went through all the information, and at the end I got my EIN number.

    Now I’m off to send the W-8BEN to Amazon.

  190. Matthijs May 30, 2013 at 12:01 #

    THANK YOU!

  191. Matthijs May 31, 2013 at 08:03 #

    Norway: 0%, article 10.

  192. Julia Mathews May 31, 2013 at 11:26 #

    OMG!! Thank you so much! 8 minutes after calling I have my EIN number! Very easy and straight forward! No hard questions! Told the lovely lady that I am a sole propieter selling ebooks and that was it, done!

  193. Henneke | Enchanting Marketing May 31, 2013 at 19:25 #

    Great advice. Thank you.

    Just to let you know that the menu changed again – it’s now option 1.

    It took me a little longer to get my EIN than some others – but still got through the call in just over half an hour (including waiting time) :)

  194. Malika Gandhi June 11, 2013 at 22:49 #

    Reblogged this on Great Places to Be..

  195. Alex Jace June 18, 2013 at 15:19 #

    Thank you! Your clear and helpful instructions made the EIN process simple for me. I had to wait a good 40 minutes before getting through, but the nice IRS lady took care of everything in under ten minutes. So glad I didn’t have to snail-mail my passport to the US embassy in London for an ITIN.

  196. Paul Z. June 21, 2013 at 18:32 #

    First of all, thank you David and Catherine and all who contributed to make this so easy. Next, I would like share my horrible experience to benefit those who wiil be trying to get EIN. It’s not the process, it’s the waiting. It took me 3x 45 minutes to get through.The first call redirected me to the wrong department despite pressing the right number from the menu. After the grueling 45 minutes wait, I was told that I was directed to the wrong department and got cut off when I was re-directed to the relevant department. The second call was equally long and was cut off again the moment the other party(coincidence ?) heard that I was on speakerphone
    (I turned on the speakphone as both my ears were almost numbed by the long wait). Finally the third call which is also about 45 minutes long, only then did I managed to speak to a kind lady who got me my EIN in 10 minutes! Yippee!

    Time Start: 10:05am, Philadelphia timing. Ends:12:38pm
    Day of week: Friday
    It seems to me that Friday is not a good day to call. And the timing? Call early in the morning or later in the afternoon. I think they start taking calls from 7am to 7pm?
    For those who are not successful in their calls call also fax the SS-4 form to IRS. Details can be found in the link below.

    http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc755.html

    Happy calling and goofd luck!
    Paul Z.

    • Paul Z. June 21, 2013 at 18:34 #

      Correction: Good Luck!

      • Guru July 6, 2013 at 15:49 #

        Hi, I just found out (maybe someone already posted), that “Amazon is required to collect a Form W-8BEN from all non-U.S. publishers who are receiving royalties.” More at https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help?topicId=A1VDYJ32T5D3U4
        I guess if you are non US publisher, like me (I live in Singapore), I don’t need EIN, I have to send W8Ben form. I hope I’m right.

        • catherineryanhoward July 6, 2013 at 18:51 #

          The W8 form requires an ITIN or an EIN. It’s what you send to them to let them know you’ve got one.

          • Guru July 7, 2013 at 09:25 #

            Oh ok, thank you.

          • Guru July 8, 2013 at 02:51 #

            Thanks Catherine. Just to clarify, can I apply for EIN before starting publishing? I’m yet to publish, will do in a week or so. Or is it something you apply for after publishing? Some of the posts mention date you started publishing as one of the questions asked by the officers. Thanks again,

          • Guru July 8, 2013 at 16:37 #

            Got it! Just wanted to tell you guys. Just got off the phone, (you have to press 1 btw), waiting was about 15 minutes, then a friendly lady came on the line, asked me if I have the SS4 form, I said, no, then she asked if I wanted to proceed anyway, I said YES!, then the whole thing took about 10 minutes. Thanks Catherine and David and the rest of the guys. Really appreciate it.

            • Guru July 10, 2013 at 07:15 #

              Does any one know the article number and the % for SIngapore? I went through the site but Singapore isn’t listed at all. Thanks a ton.

              • linesofresolution October 1, 2013 at 05:31 #

                My understanding is that Singapore does not have a tax treaty with US and thus it means we are subjected to double taxation. thus even with the EIN, we are still subjected to 30 percent witholding tax.

          • DebbyGies (D.G.Kaye) August 13, 2013 at 18:35 #

            Hi, I am so grateful for all this info, as a Canadian soon to be author. But, I still have 2 questions: 1) is the W8Ben form also good for use if you are publishing to Smashwords? 2) Can I submit this form to Amazon before I publish my book with them? Thanks, I appreciate your response. :)

            • catherineryanhoward August 13, 2013 at 19:02 #

              Yes and yes, you can submit this info to Amazon as soon as you set up an account. You don’t have to wait until you publish a title, as far as I know.

              • DebbyGies (D.G.Kaye) August 16, 2013 at 02:59 #

                Thanks Catherine! I am so happy to share your great site around by posting!

  197. Toy July 8, 2013 at 21:13 #

    This may have already been said but when you call the number in the article, you now press “1” NOT 2 for an EIN. I think 2 is for an ITIN so maybe a shedload of us have been calling and they decided to change the options. Anyway, I say this just in case you planned on pressing 2 before listening to the options. You might want to listen to them anyway, just in case they change again. Got my EIN in 5 minutes over the phone after triple-checking all the details. Woohoo!

  198. Marj July 9, 2013 at 02:35 #

    It must be nice to think you have helped so many. I put it off and put it off and decided it wouldn’t be so much money I’d lose anyway and maybe it wasn’t worth the trauma…
    But now it’s done, I have an EIN, carefully following what you wrote, and now all I have to do is cross my fingers I’ve filled out the W-8BEN forms correctly.

    So this is a big thank you,
    Marj.

  199. Henna Raja July 9, 2013 at 13:17 #

    Hi,

    Thanks so much for this information and thank you to anyone who provided further information within the comments section.

    I just rang them and within seconds I was put through :) 13:00 PM UK time.

    Follow the instructions from this awesome article – very easy. She did ask something about “Limited Liability” which I just repeated I was Sole Proprietor.

    Within five minutes, I had my EIN number!

    She said it would take up to 2 weeks to get my records and that I should make copies and make sure my details were correct.

    Thanks again for the article! Now, the greedy IRS can’t take my money! :)

    • guruprasadn July 10, 2013 at 09:55 #

      Hi guys,
      Following up from my last Q on filling the Article no and % for those living in Singapore, I spoke to the IRAS here and they say they only have limited treaty with the US, it doesn’t cover epub etc, only shipping and airtransport. Let me know if you have any info on this please. I am an Indian, Singapore PR, if that helps. Thanks.

  200. Emma July 11, 2013 at 15:06 #

    Thanks a mill for this blog post and to everyone who commented.
    I’m just off the phone. Got my EIN number.
    I rang at 2.45 Irish time. Was on hold for maybe 5 or 6 minutes. When you call, you press #1. A lovely woman answered, she asked if I’d filled out the SS4 form. I said no, and she said that was fine, she just had to ask. Questions have all been covered above. I did get thrown by the LLC question for a second, but just repeated the business was under my own name. She’ll mail out a letter confirming the number and details in the next 2 weeks.

  201. Crimperman July 16, 2013 at 01:01 #

    Thanks for this information, really helpful and I have my EIN within about 10 minutes. A quick tip for when to call. The IRS are now open from 7Am to 10PM EST (US east coast time) but if you call during their standard office hours you will find yourself at the back of a long queue. I was told in excess of 30 minutes. I called back at 12:50AM BST – about 7:50PM EST – and got straight through. So if you can stay up a bit it’s worth calling later.

    thanks again

    • Crimperman July 16, 2013 at 09:26 #

      I meant to say that the IRS guy I spoke with asked me if I had a completed SS4 form. I said I was about to complete one and wanted to get my EIN from him first – and he said “Oh okay then”. :)

      Also when he found out I was British he said “We get an awful lot of publishers from over there calling us. I didn’t realise publishing was such a big thing in the UK.” :)

  202. D J Mills July 17, 2013 at 03:15 #

    I also want to thank everyone for the wonderful information.

    I now have an EIN and 3 W8BEN’s filled out ready to post to three distributors.

    I first phoned IRS from Australia at their time 4:00pm on extension “1” and was told they only process a certain amount of EINs daily so try later.

    I phoned again at their time 8:30am and had my EIN in about 16 minutes. Most of the time was correcting spelling and answering questions at the end like “will I be trucking petrol/gas across USA” (answer “NO”) or employing USA citizens (answer “NO”)

    So, thank you again for the clear and concise information.

  203. Jason July 23, 2013 at 17:14 #

    Thanks for this post – I got a rude 30% surprise on my first royalty payment, so this was just what I needed.

    A couple of things to add:

    I was asked whether I had a completed SS4 in front of me – answer that you have. In reality, just read through it in advance and have it open onscreen, because it makes it easier for them to refer you to specific boxes to give the right info. Unless you’re running a fleet of trucks or an online casino, most boxes are irrelevant anyway.

    You can simplify any confusion about sole proprietorship/incorporated company/etc by saying that you file a tax return for your business activities under the name you’ve given. I suspect they simply want to be satisfied that you are aware tax is to be paid at the other end. I think it’s a sort of loose form of due diligence.

    If you do incur any time or money costs while on hold, don’t forget to book them as an expense!

    For all that it seems stiff and convoluted, I’d far rather this process than frustrating day trips to notaries and consulates. And have some sympathy for the poor buggers at the other end – doing that all day… Have the info ready to go, make their job easy for them and be pleasant, and you’ll breeze through it.

    Incidentally, they’ve offloaded some of the work to offices in Cincinatti.

  204. Ramon Somoza (@SEOtranslator) July 31, 2013 at 18:02 #

    THANK YOU SO MUCH for such a helpful post!

    After almost a week trying to understand what the heck the IRS was demanding, an unsuccessful visit to the US Embassy (apparently you need to ask for an appointment in advance) and almost tearing my hair apart, I managed to clear the whole thing in 7:45 minutes (including waiting time, which when I dialed in was told to be over 15 minutes, yet ultimately was approximately one minute).

    At the end I was asked a few questions that the nice lady on the phone said were not on the form but that she was instructed to ask, such as whether I would distribute oil in the US and similar. I simply responded “”no” to all, and I got the famous EIN.

    • Jackie Luben August 8, 2013 at 12:47 #

      I’ve just come off the phone from a very helpful lady and now have my EIN no. Thank you very much for the help. I was confused at first, having dialled 1 without the 00 at the front end. Many thanks, and I’ll look again for the next stage.

  205. Nikos August 9, 2013 at 07:43 #

    Hi all,

    As I would like to publish my first iBook (made with iBooks Author) I have two questions.

    1) After receiving the EIN, will I have to pay taxes in US annually or there will be just withdrawals from my iBooks sales?

    2) Will I have to fill this W8-BEN form? Where should I send it?

    I am from Greece.

    Thank you in advance.

    • catherineryanhoward August 9, 2013 at 09:32 #

      Nikos, depending on whether or not your country has a tax treaty with the US and if so, the idea is that with an EIN, you don’t pay ANY US tax but instead receive all your income (leaving you to pay tax on it in your own country). You then have to fill out the W8-BEN form and send it to Apple iBooks; I’m sure they provide the address on their website.

      • Nikos August 9, 2013 at 09:37 #

        Thank you Catherine,

        Greece has a tax treaty with US. If anyone has the experience, the W8-BEN for will be included in the process of making my paid account in Apple?

        • catherineryanhoward August 9, 2013 at 17:06 #

          The W8-BEN is how you tell Apple what your ITIN or EIN is. You MUST fill it out and send it in.

  206. Danielle de Valera August 13, 2013 at 02:05 #

    Catherine,

    Thanks to you & David for a great post. However, I feel I must point out that David has said you NEED TO BE REGISTERED AS A COMPANY to get an EIN – unless you feel like taking the risk of defrauding the US IRS.

    In Australia, this currently costs a total of $581.50, compared with, at most, $140 for the Notarisiation + Appelliate (and more time spent mucking around, of course) so it might not the best way to go for everyone.

    • Captain Walker August 13, 2013 at 10:39 #

      Interesting. The IRS and taxation matters are clearly about legalities. I’m noting that there is some separation of opinion. On the one had it is stated that one ‘needs to be registered as a company to get an EIN’. On the other hand it seems that some have proffered being ‘sole proprietor’ to satisfy them. Common sense is rather different to ‘legal sense’. The duty to know and make accurate disclosures, relative to their rules in the IRS, is the business of the applicant. It’s not a real or workable excuse, such as “The woman on the phone asked and I said [this that or the other].” It maybe a minor point in mitigation should one be investigated by the IRS.

      I think somebody who knows the insides of the law on the IRS, should clarify what sort of ‘legal person’ (for taxation purposes) is acceptable for an EIN. Certainty is required because there is a risk that a ‘fast EIN’ on the phone turns out eventually to be a massive investigation on this side of the water.

      • catherineryanhoward August 13, 2013 at 18:57 #

        We’ve clearly stated in the original post that neither of us are tax or legal experts and we’re only sharing our own experiences. Also, the IRS is the one handing out EINs over the phone based on the answers to the question they ask. As long as the applicant isn’t lying, I don’t foresee a problem. You have to remember that this was all in place before 1000s of non-US residents started using US companies to self-publish; I bet the IRS are just happy to deal with us self-published authors quickly and easily.

        And as Marcela said in a comment above:

        “… you don’t need to set up a company to get an EIN. If you look at the form (SS-4), there is a series of checkboxes to say what you are: a corporation, partnership, a limited liability company, etc; one of those checkboxes is for individual. Hence as an individual you can get a EIN for yourself.”

        • Captain Walker August 13, 2013 at 22:15 #

          However, I am legally qualified and regularly am involved in legal analysis of the law.

          I’m not interested in stopping people from making their telephone calls and getting their EINs. Some will surely feel they have it right because they’ve answered correctly – as far as they are concerned. And that’s fine for them. I noted the emphasis given in this statement “However, I feel I must point out that David has said you NEED TO BE REGISTERED AS A COMPANY to get an EIN – unless you feel like taking the risk of defrauding the US IRS.”

          My comment was only to state that legal interpretation is often not lay persons’ interpretations of the words. I often see people get things wrong because they ‘thought this that or the other’. The law – especially in the USA – is not sympathetic to what people ‘thought’. Law enforcement is a serious matter with regard to taxation. From what I’ve seen of US taxation law, it is far more complex than that in the UK.

          The duty is upon the applicant to get it right. If applicants get it wrong – they could ‘argue’ until the cows come home, it’ll make no difference. My post did not meant to allude to a need for anybody here on this blog to be a lawyer or legally qualified. I was referring only to the comment made.

          It would be wise when dealing with American taxation matters to get it right first time. Whether I’m right or wrong is not the key issue. The key issue is whether others make assumptions and get it wrong. [Declaration: I am not working in taxation law - nor am I seeking legal work arising from this blog].

    • Marcela August 13, 2013 at 14:28 #

      Danielle, you don’t need to set up a company to get an EIN. If you look at the form (SS-4), there is a series of checkboxes to say what you are: a corporation, partnership, a limited liability company, etc; one of those checkboxes is for individual. Hence as an individual you can get a EIN for yourself.

    • JB Rowley August 13, 2013 at 21:23 #

      Hi Danielle,

      Uou do not need to have a registered company. You just let them know you are selling books via Amazon and that will do the trick. JB :-)

    • Ruth October 6, 2013 at 21:16 #

      Daniella, I went through the process as indicated. I was asked if I was a company and I said I wasn’t, I was an individual. This was NOT an issue. Further along in the process I was asked again for my company name and I repeated that I was an individual, again, NOT a problem. I got my EIN at the end of the call about 10 minutes after I started.
      .

  207. Nikos August 13, 2013 at 09:52 #

    I just want to point that after contacting Apple (ibookstore support) they don’t require the W8BEN form any more.

    I contacted them yesterday and I said to them that I am from Greece (there is a tax treaty between US and Greece). They only need the EIN number.

    Well, I still don’t know if I will need to file a tax return to US but anyway that was the info :)

    • DebbyGies (D.G.Kaye) August 13, 2013 at 23:22 #

      Hi guys, yahooooo, just got my EIN! Thanks to many of you. I would like to say that I had the loveliest woman assist me. My ‘on hold’ experience wasn’t even two minutes! She basically asked me if I will be publishing on amazon after she first asked me if I had a U.S. social security number. I told her I am Canadian and only do my writing in Canada and need the number so I can send W8BEN to amazon to not withhold my taxes. Done! Yes, she did ask if I filled out an SS4 form and I told her I was informed it wasn’t necessary. At the end of our lovely conversation she added that I may like to copy out the SS4 and fill it out just to keep in case I need to get in touch with them in future; personal keeping only. She also added that I will be receiving a letter from them with my EIN stated and that I may also wish to send a copy of that letter with the W8BEN form together to amazon to verify I am the holder of the number…..how nice was she? Total time from dialing to receiving my number…………..7 minutes!!!!!!! Woohoo, thanks David and Catherine and all of you for great info.
      Also, I would like to concur with Marcela, you can get an EIN for individual and also, if you are Canadian, when your book starts selling a certain amount of income, we will be applying for a business GST# anyway, because after ‘x’ amount of income it is in our interest to do so for the tax credits, so then that issue wouldn’t even apply.

      • DebbyGies (D.G.Kaye) August 13, 2013 at 23:25 #

        Oh yes, one more thing, some might find worthy. I called at 5:55pm EST, so maybe that is an excellent time?

        • Heather Grace Stewart August 27, 2013 at 15:26 #

          OK Debby I am calling at 5:55 ! hee. Thanks ever so much! I am like a kid on Christmas morning right now to discover I don’t need to hire a notary!

      • Darren Patrick August 16, 2013 at 22:06 #

        Thank you Debby – and to everyone! It took me a while to read all the way to the end :)

        As a Canadian who is on the verge of publishing (with Amazon and others) shortly – ebooks – this is very timely.

        • T Smith August 20, 2013 at 18:34 #

          Regarding the issue of a registered company. If you look at the web site, and follow through the beginning of the online registration (remembering that you would not be able to complete the application in this manner), it clarified that being a sole proprietor that was self-employed (and not a limited liability company) counted for the EIN. I hope that helps.

        • DebbyGies (D.G.Kaye) August 22, 2013 at 00:46 #

          My pleasure to pay it forward! :)

          • DebbyGies (D.G.Kaye) August 30, 2013 at 01:19 #

            My pleasure, Heather and Darren and to any of you I have contributed to. I had the sweat on myself. Now, if anyone has encountered confusion on filling out W8 form on KDP like me I’d appreciate knowing what that ‘derived entity’ question meant, I didn’t know if we tick yes or no, so for now I have refrained from filling out the form until I find out as I don’t want to put any false info. Anyone know?

            • Marcela August 31, 2013 at 18:36 #

              I think you are referring to “disregarded entity”. A disregarded entity is a legal entity that for taxes does not really exist. The most common is a Limited Liability Company (LLC).
              Let’s say you as an individual set one LLC up and do business as the LLC, then let’s say that you are sued in court and you lose; the person who sued you can only get the money and property in the name of the company, not your personal property. The LLC is legally a separate entity from you, the individual.
              However when it comes to taxes, the LLC is “disregarded”, it is as the LLC did not exist, everything passes to its owner: you. You report all the income, expenses, deductions, etc of the LLC on your personal tax return.
              Does that make sense?

              • DebbyGies (D.G.Kaye) September 1, 2013 at 17:10 #

                Thanks for replying, but I’m not sure that’s what I was implying so I copied a sentence from KDP as ironically the W8 form we print out and send asks different questions than KDP’s W8, I have copied it here. The jargon is confusing.
                Derivation of Income
                Select ‘Yes’ if you derive the income for which you are claiming treaty benefits. An item of income may be derived by either the entity receiving the item of income or by the interest holders in the entity or, in certain circumstances, both. An item of income paid to an entity is considered to be derived by the entity only if the entity is not fiscally transparent under the laws of the entity’s jurisdiction with respect to the item of income. An item of income paid to an entity shall be considered to be derived by the interest holder in the entity only if:
                • The interest holder is not fiscally transparent in its jurisdiction with respect to the item of income, and
                • The entity is considered to be fiscally transparent under the laws of the interest holder’s jurisdiction with respect to the item of income. An item of income paid directly to a type of entity specifically identified in a treaty as a resident of a treaty jurisdiction is treated as derived by a resident of that treaty.

                If we are an individual with and EIN, what do we check to that question? Thanks. I did email KDP on this issue, but I was responded with more of the same words.

                I

                • wombat37 September 5, 2013 at 08:59 #

                  I’m stuck on the same question. I tried checking YES, but then in review the form says “is not an individual” next to the check box. Confusing. I suppose it all depends on what they mean by “derive the income”. I’ll dig further.

                  • DebbyGies (D.G.Kaye) September 8, 2013 at 23:36 #

                    @wombat37, thanks for knowing what I mean. I am still searching this. Apparently that wretched illegible question is actually question 9c and d on the actual W8 form that David said not to check, now we are being forced to pick yes or no on an issue that doesn’t apply to us. Did you go back to it after review and check no? I’m thinking that’s what we should put, unless someone with legalese comes up with something better?

                    • Ruth October 6, 2013 at 21:23 #

                      I replied yes (I am in Canada) to this question even though I saw that the draft final indicated that meant I was a corporation. My interpretation was that I derive income from the books. Don’t know if it was the right answer or wrng answer althouhg I did do a lot of searching. I got my EIN in the mail a couple of weeks after and I won’t know about the Amazon side until I get my next payout.

              • Carol Gray September 18, 2013 at 01:11 #

                Hi Marcela, I’m confused on this matter also :( Have just obtained my EIN over the phone and for question 9a on form ss4, selected Corporation as I have formed a company in Australia for the purposes of my e-book. I now have to fill out form 8832? In Australia I lodge 2 separate returns, but reading what you have said, would I be better off being a sole proprietor on the ss4 form? Question 1 of the ss4 form I put my business name and question 2 my name. This is confusing as whatever monies I make from my Amazon e-book, I would lodged under my business name in Australia. Any help would be appreciated……thanks Carol

  208. Alexis August 24, 2013 at 21:48 #

    Hey guys, my country doens’t have a tax treaty with the US. I’m from Argentina. Can I still apply for the EIN?
    :(

  209. Heather Grace Stewart August 27, 2013 at 15:24 #

    You are an ANGEL! Thanks so much. I was about to hire a notary here in Quebec! I am going to call for my EIN and see what happens. A living angel I tell you! Forever grateful! :)

  210. Dee Ankary (@DeeAnkary) August 27, 2013 at 21:13 #

    Thank you so much for this guide. I’d been putting off dealing with this 30% withholding issue, and even wrote to KDP to hold my payments until I got it sorted out.

    Lo and behold, an electronic version of the W8BEN is now available. It took just over 5 minutes to complete it, including entering my EIN (which I had previously obtained thanks to this post).

    After submitting, it validated against the EIN/IRS records, and voila, my tax information is complete!

    What’s also nice about the online form is that it tells you immediately what is the withholding rate depending on your country of residence. Awesome.

    Good luck, and don’t put it off. Thanks again for this fab post and all the helpful comments!

  211. Ruth August 27, 2013 at 23:28 #

    Not sure if this is the spot for my EIN comments.
    I followed the instructions way at the top and got my EIN in 10 minutes and that was dragged out because the IRS person was heavily accented and I had to keep asking him to repeat his question.

    I called at 2:45pm Pacific time and got a live body immediately. As was mentioned, you now press #1 for EIN but it is self evident when you listen to the message prompt. I was asked for the name of my company and I stated I was a sole proprietor. I think they have a script that they read from because I had to state about three times that I was a sole proprietor in response to a question. Even after that I was asked for the date of incorporation and how many employees I had, so again, I simply responded that I was a sole proprietor.

    Going one step further the question to which you answer ‘ebooks’ is related to the type of company and my IRS agent read through a whole list of business types (construction, accounting, etc, etc) for a couple of questions and you just have to repeat you are writing ebooks.

    I was dreading going through this process and have been putting it off all year.
    Thanks so much for all the information in this thread. I would certainly say it helped me to read it all even though everything I found I needed was in the top of the thread.

  212. Captain Walker September 1, 2013 at 17:11 #

    I’ve been following up on the ‘legality’ of EIN for self-employed persons. When hit this link http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Do-You-Need-an-EIN%3F – question four states “Do you withhold taxes on income, other than wages, paid to a non-resident alien?”

    Note also the link itself has the word ‘Self-employed’. Taking these two things together, it would appear that anyone applying honestly with the intention of ‘withholding’ (as it is called), for the purpose of ‘ebook’ sales, has a very good ‘defence’ or argument should the IRS come after them. But as always, do seek full legal advice – as my interpretation is not given as advice, even if it is taken as advice.

    • DebbyGies (D.G.Kaye) September 4, 2013 at 16:15 #

      That is good to hear Captain. I was wondering if you could have a look at my comment above when filling out Amazon’s W8. Their form is slightly different than the one we print out from the IRS site. The question on ‘Derivation of Income’ is on Amazon’s form and I find it confusing. For those of us non U.S. publishers with E.I,N, what would we check on that question? Yes or no? Any feedback would be much appreciated. Thanks!

  213. John Day September 3, 2013 at 12:40 #

    Just took the plunge dialled the IRS number and after about 4 minutes got my EIN – the woman I spoke to was really switched on making sure I would not have to fill any forms in when my paperwork arrived. So so easy – now I can get paid by Amazon ! One thing – I pressed one to go the EIN number route they have it set up as an option on the automatic dialling. Probably getting lots of calls from self-publishers and now are well verse in dishing out EINs.

  214. Steve Mullins September 3, 2013 at 19:52 #

    ok so have just finished going X eyed from the iTIN instructions!
    You say you can apply for a EIN via online only in USA – could you do this within The UK using a VPN / Smart DNS (the thing that lets me watch USA Netflix and aljazeera sport in the uk) ?

    • Steve Mullins October 24, 2013 at 23:34 #

      Managed to finally get through after 5 hours on / off attempts / on hold – was using the ‘rebtel’ app on iphone which seemed to disconnect randomly, despite having enough credits – i suspect an issue with IRS not liking the app connection.
      I then used skype – and got through within 10minutes – at 2330 on a Thursday….
      oh and avoid ‘icall’ – useless!

  215. Linda Plummer September 4, 2013 at 10:57 #

    I kept putting off getting my EIN until a few days ago, when there was a message for me from Amazon on my Kindle bookshelf mentioning my lack of tax details.

    Don’t know what I’d have done without all the helpful information on this site about how to get an EIN – thanks so much to you all!

    I’d just like to add that, after getting my EIN, I filled in the W8-BEN form direct on the Amazon site, which was nice, as I didn’t even need to pop along to the Post Office and send it off!

    Linda

    • DebbyGies (D.G.Kaye) September 4, 2013 at 16:11 #

      Hi LInda, I would still be sending a hard copy to Amazon even though it is filled out online as David Gaughran had stated. It is always best to insure they have a filed copy in case of any mishaps. I just received my copy letter from the IRS with my EIN, I was happy that nothing else came along with it (ie: forms or such, as some have mentioned), they said if I wanted to copy and submit their letter along with W8 that was extra insurance for the distributor, now how nice was that?

    • Mark G. Butcher September 5, 2013 at 13:20 #

      A great big thank you to Catherine and David and all the other helpful posters here. I just received my EIN in a straightforward 10 minute phone call, pressing option 1, and was also asked when I started selling. The IRS employee helpfully and patiently repeated all my information and went through the SS-4 information over the phone. I had been putting this phone call off after an earlier, unhelpful call several months ago. A weight has lifted! Thanks guys.

    • David Ellis September 5, 2013 at 20:41 #

      The first time I rang the IRS number (just after 7 p.m. on a weekday) I was informed that the wait time was 10 minutes. 20 minutes later, I was still waiting and thinking about my telephone bill accruing multiples of 13p, so I gave up. Since then, I’ve tried six times and on each occasion the wait has varied from “at least 15 minutes” to “greater than 30 minutes”. It’s enough to make one give up and accept the 30% tax at source. I’ll try a few more times but I’m thinking it might just be easier to send the wretched SS-4 form by post.

  216. newromantics4 September 9, 2013 at 12:26 #

    Reblogged this on New Romantics 4 and commented:
    Some great info about ITIN versus EIN for when we need it in 2015 !!

  217. Ray Ronan (@_RayRonan) September 10, 2013 at 20:32 #

    Thanks so much for this tip. Seems Amazon will remove books if you do not have an ein or itin number now. So bought a cheap phone card and made the call. had to wait 7 mins and they were so friendly and helpful you would not believe it.
    read and liked Lets get visible.
    thanks
    RR

    • Winson Ng September 13, 2013 at 12:31 #

      Are you sure? how do they remove books? so far i don’t have that issue, touch wood…

      • Edward M. Grant September 28, 2013 at 06:18 #

        The Amazon site currently says you have to complete their online ‘tax interview’ before October 25th or they’ll remove books from sale. Doesn’t appear that you have to enter an ITIN or EIN to ‘pass’ the interview, but you’ll need one to avoid witholding tax.

  218. Susanne September 11, 2013 at 17:36 #

    I read everything twice (thanks to all who commented) and it was a painless process with a very official sounding man (who even gave me his employee number). Within five minutes I had the number. I waited about 30 minutes, but that’s because I called mid-day. Having the filled out SS-4 form in front of me made all the difference because the questions weren’t in sequence.

    Catherine, many many thanks for this valuable information. I’ll share the information and reference your blog whenever I can.

    Best to all, and good luck with your book sales.

    Susanne

  219. Winson Ng September 13, 2013 at 12:26 #

    Would like to ask if i’m from a country that isn’t stated in the tax treaty, i’m from Malaysia… does it do any difference for me to get a EIN? i have already submitted my w8BEN form via Amazon’s dashboard update, I still can update it, but should i get a EIN, does it get me a refund ?

  220. Aroha Marino September 18, 2013 at 13:13 #

    hi Catherine,

    I spoke with a public notary and was looking at making an appointment for him to view my passport and start the apostille cert New Zealand IRD and USA IRS trail…or should that be trial? Desperately tired of the long winded route I googled for help for tax for non USA publisher or international and up came your site. Thank you Catherine, David and Yorgos for the info about the EIN. I rang IRS International 267 941 1000 followed the prompts, spoke to a lovely girl and less than ten minutes after I called (with a small wait time) gained my brand spanking new and free EIN. How painless that was compared to the hoops I would have had to jump through to get an ITIN. I am so grateful for this post and have already let my friends know. Have a great day…and as it is just after midnight here in NZ I am now going to have an excellent nights sleep!

  221. Mike Ashton September 20, 2013 at 21:49 #

    Thank you so much for this post. EIN obtained in a very pleasant 10 min call (+almost 2 hrs waiting over several attempts.) using Skype credit the whole thing cost less than £2. Waiting times vary day to day. Yesterday the message said call tomorrow, today it said ten to fifteen mins, and it was 22. Well worth the wait hopefully. Have everything to hand, written down, even your own name and address and it will ease the stress. But don’t worry, they are nice humans at the end of the phone and used to dealing with the likes of us with strange accents!

  222. jillycrystal October 1, 2013 at 04:30 #

    Hi, I haven’t seen this question answered here. :( My country doesn’t have a tax treaty with the USA. Can I still get an EIN in order to get paid? I have some earnings retained in Amazon because I don’t have a Tax Identification Number(or EIN as they seem to be the same for them). Can somebody help me, please?

    • Marcela October 5, 2013 at 16:33 #

      Hi Jillycrystal,

      You don’t need a tax number to get paid, what you need to do is go through the tax interview and answer “No” the question that says “Do you have a US Tax Identification number (TIN)? With this, you will have no trouble receiving payments.

      When there is a tax treaty and you want to claim that the tax treaty applies to you, then you need a Tax ID number (either EIN or ITIN).

      Since there is no tax treaty for your country, you don’t strictly need the number, you can still get it and use but it is not going to make any difference. The tax rate that you must pay to the US is 30% with or without tax ID number.

  223. E. M. Katherine October 2, 2013 at 13:51 #

    Reblogged this on E. M. Katherine and commented:
    If you’re not from US and you want to self publish your book, read this:

  224. karmaquinta October 4, 2013 at 16:08 #

    I have just telephoned the IRS office in Philadelphia and the message is that the IRS offices are closed due to the budget situation. Not sure what that means exactly. It appears relatively easy to get an EIN . . . but an ITIN still appears to take a while; and here in Portugal it is not a simple matter to register as a ‘business’ or ‘sole trader’, as it is in other countries, so it looks like I will have to go down the ITIN route. Great blog, thanks for all the info, and also for all the helpful comments from readers.

    • catherineryanhoward October 4, 2013 at 17:04 #

      See the comment I left for Wendy below.

    • Ruth October 6, 2013 at 21:35 #

      In Canada you don’t have to register as a sole trader to be classed as an individual. I am self employed (an individual) for tax purposes and there was nothing to register. This may be the same in Portugal. HOWEVER, if I wanted to actually register as a Sole Proprietor that is something I can also do, but there is no need. Check with an accountant in Portugal if you have to register as ‘Self Employed’. As far as I know a Sole Trader is someone who would go to the open markets and sell their wares (and similar situations). And as Catherine indicated, check your international news and you will see that every federal department in the US is closed down. It is part of a Republican Tactic to stop Pres. Obama’s new medical Insurance from coming into being. I wouldn’t panic, just wait until Congress takes care of business and all the federal departments will be open again.

  225. Wendy Lambie October 4, 2013 at 16:50 #

    I know this is a very long line of old posts etc, however, given that new people still need this info – as of today Oct. 4 2013, the number for the IRS office will only get you a recording saying that due to the economy, all offices are closed. So far I have been unsuccessful at finding a way to obtain an EIN as a non-US citizen. Can anyone out there help?

    • catherineryanhoward October 4, 2013 at 17:04 #

      It’s not due to the economy. The US government is in shut-down because Congress haven’t agreed on a budget for the next year. It means all non-essential federal employs on a leave without pay until a solution is reached. Watch the news and you’ll know when the shut down ends.

  226. Colleen October 7, 2013 at 05:23 #

    I recently went looking for this info when Amazon sent me an e-mail regarding my tax information. I came across this post a couple of weeks ago and have been trying the number almost every day since. I kept getting the message to try again later. I got this message no matter what time of day I called. I wasn’t too worried as Amazon said I had until October 25th to get my tax information to them. However, I then saw that the office that issues the EINs only issue one a day! So if there are a lot of people trying to do this before Amazon’s deadline of October 25th, how are we all going to get through? And now with the government shut down I have pretty much lost all hope of receiving an EIN in time. Does anyone have any information on this ‘one EIN a day’ rule? When the government does finally reconvene, do you think they’ll waive this rule and issue multiple EINs or are we all up a creek without a paddle? Thanks so much for the article by the way! It’s fantastic and very informative. I wish I would have found it months ago instead of right before the shut down.

    • catherineryanhoward October 7, 2013 at 11:37 #

      I’m sure Amazon will make allowances for the government shutdown. They probably created a last-minute rush with their own deadline, anyway, and then on top of that the shutdown happened. You might consider e-mailing them regarding the deadline in light of the shutdown — they’re usually quite good at getting back if you contact them through CreateSpace or KDP.

      I’m not sure what you mean about the offices that issues EINs only issuing one a day…? That’s impossible. If you read that somewhere I can only assume it refers to one EIN per person per day, as in you can’t call up and get 5 or 6 of them for various companies in a 24 hour period. But rest assured they are handing out far more than one EIN per day: otherwise there’d be a backlog stretching to the moon!

      • Marian October 7, 2013 at 11:48 #

        I decided to complete the form and submit it without an EIN. Because it says that you can update the information at anytime, so when it becomes possible to acquire an EIN and I obtain one, I will update the form on Amazon.

      • Colleen October 7, 2013 at 14:30 #

        Omg! I totally read that wrong! You’re right of course Catherine, it’s one EIN per person per day. Isn’t it always that way though? You try to puzzle through something until you finally ask the question only to then apply palm to face publicly? Anyway, thank you so much for pointing out my error. I was really starting to stress out. I will write to Amazon and see what they say about the shutdown.

      • Prashanth October 10, 2013 at 15:32 #

        I got the EIN by following the method given above, and about month or so i am getting a caution mark in my KDP publishing account. It says that i have to update my Tax information. I have given the EIN number allotted to me. So what will have gone wrong in my application.

        Today i tried to contact IRS through the same number, but i says that they are not able to assist.

        And Amazon has extended the date till 9th Nov 2013. To update the tax info.

        • Ruth October 10, 2013 at 16:53 #

          Prashanth, did you fill out the Amazon tax for or just send them the EIN? Also, if you did fill out the Amazon form, when did you do it. I recall that someone where in the Amazon process it said it can take a couple of weeks for the info to be processed. As has been stated here, the U.S. Federal government departments are all closed. Monitor the international news. When Congress gets back to work all federal departments will be open again. It’s not just the IRS that is closed, you can’t even go to the Grand Canyon at the moment.

        • johnny October 12, 2013 at 13:22 #

          I also got the same tax update information from amazon kdp, you’ll have to input exactly the same information the IRS sent to you (a document stating your EIN number), input exactly the same information, name, country…etc. I did this, then it’s no problem for me, hope this helps.

    • Marcela October 7, 2013 at 14:53 #

      The “one a day” limit is per person or as they call it “responsible party”. You can only get one EIN per day, if you want to get a second one you have to wait until the next day.

  227. Landscapes of Inspirational Thoughts October 21, 2013 at 23:07 #

    Dear Catherine and David, Thank you so much for your valuable tips! Your article on how to get EIN number is like a guardian angel caring tips for me as I called IRS ;-) It took me an hour to wait for a not busy line but it only took like 15 minutes to get my EIN number! Greetings from The Netherlands! best regards, Angelica

    • Dave October 22, 2013 at 15:26 #

      A HUGE thank you to Catherine and David (and everyone else who replied) for this information! It made the whole process seem far less daunting!

      Just rang up the IRS and got my EIN – I rang at 2pm Irish time (about 9am in Philadelphia, I think) on a Tuesday, was on hold for about an hour. Once I was put through I was talking to a very helpful lady who gave me my EIN within 5 mins.

      Thanks again!

  228. Muza-uddin October 24, 2013 at 21:02 #

    1 hour 5 mints hold, a charming young lady attaended the call and in 3 minutes I got my EIN number. All I can say thank you for this fantastic post.

  229. englishwomaningermany October 25, 2013 at 22:26 #

    I can’t thank you enough for this guide. I live in Germany, the only IRS Office is in Frankfurt, which is a long way from where I live and the alternative the tax Office gave me was to use an Acceptance Agent – which I discovered would cost quite a few Euros. After I read this blog I rang the IRS. I gave up on day one, when I called in the evening, after waiting for far too long, then tried again today at 2pm German time. After a 15 Minute wait I got to speak to a real person, who was extremely friendly and helpful. There wasn’t a mention of an SS4 so I didn’t have to hang up and try again. Five minutes later I had my number. Totally painless. I think someone has mentioned that you now have to select Option 1 when you call, but apart from that all was pretty much as per the instructions. Brilliant.

  230. Sherry Marshall October 26, 2013 at 08:13 #

    Hi Catherine. Oh I couldn’t have done any of this without finding you! But reaching out for some help now. I have spent hours and hours reading everything, so thanks to everyone.
    But almost at the point again of total frustration! and really struggling as a newbie on publishing my first E book.
    I finally got my EIN number after an hour of holding on and a woman dry as dust! But fantastic that I am through that hurdle. But now I am struggling with Part 11, question 10 on the W8 BEN form.
    I can’t find the Article number for Australia (maybe 12 but I can’t find verification) to claim a 5% rate of with holding, but again don’t really know.
    Also I have my book up on Smashwords, deferred until 15th November but i can’t seem to defer on Amazon? Is that correct? So, should I wait until 15th November to send my W8 form to Amazon until then? and just read something about having to fill in an Amazon form online as well as posting the W8BEN form? I am here in sydney, Australia ready with my express post envelopes and with your help, maybe can post them off soon!
    Any help would be greatly appreciated,
    Kind wishes,
    a somewhat confused Sherry Marshall.

  231. Virginia Alison October 29, 2013 at 21:08 #

    I have to leave a little note.
    I came upon this page as soon as I found out I had to do the dreaded tax form for Create Space. I am English and live on a Portuguese island in the middle of nowhere lol…and I wondered if that would cause a problem…but NO!
    I had to hang on for about 20 mins and this was at 9pm GMT…but the woman I spoke to was so helpful and funny, we had a few laughs and within 5 mins eh voila…my EIN number.
    Thank you so much for this blog…I am going to pass this on to a few Facebook pages who have writers asking for help. I am sure it will be of great use.

  232. Virginia Alison October 30, 2013 at 16:41 #

    Just as an added note
    If you live in Portugal for the W-8BEN form it is Article 13 – %10

    Thank you again for this advice.

  233. Virginia Alison November 4, 2013 at 15:40 #

    I do have a question re the W-8BEN form.
    When you send it off, do you need to send a certified copy of your passport with it or is the form and a covering letter enough?

  234. Sherry Marshall November 4, 2013 at 22:15 #

    Any help much appreciated on Part 11, question 10 on the W8 BEN form.
    I can’t find the Article number for Australia and anyone know what is the percentage rate of with holding.? Thank you. Sherry

  235. igf-1 plus November 5, 2013 at 01:10 #

    When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now
    each time a comment is added I get several emails with the same comment.
    Is there any way you can remove me from that service?
    Bless you!

    • catherineryanhoward November 5, 2013 at 09:10 #

      I don’t think I can but the next time you get one of those e-mails there should be an ‘unsubscribe’ or ‘unfollow this post’ option…

  236. Michael November 5, 2013 at 09:24 #

    Anyone got EIN number via Fax? If yes did they sent the original certificate by post too?
    Thanx

  237. Linsey Sealey November 6, 2013 at 22:10 #

    It’s really great that I came across this information on the original post. I’ve been the owner of my EIN code for 2 weeks and so glad it’s all over and done.

    Just something I want to mention a couple of things… 1: When I got my code, which was only 2 weeks ago just after the government issues over there, I went to update my tax info on KDP and it appears they’ve added the W8-BEN form on their site. While your going through the process of filling in your tax info including your EIN number, you fill in the W8-BEN form there and then and they accept a digital signature (where you basically just type in your name in the box and confirm) and then that’s it… W8-BEN form filled in, just like that.

    2: I think they’ve slightly changed the process a little over the phone. In the part where it mentions the SS-4 form and that you don’t want to go down this route, well, the guy asked if I was familiar with this form and I went cold because it took me an hour to get through. Because it says in the information that you should hang up and ring again. BUT, all he mentioned it for was so I can pull it up on my computer screen from the IRS’s site so I can clearly understand the questions that he will ask from the SS-4 form. I suggest if they mention this form then just go with it and do what they say but at some point just make sure you ask if they will be giving you the code over the phone. I did this and he said “oh yes definitely it’s just for you to understand the questions as I ask them, so all of the information is correct.”

    Just wanted to post this as I’ve just had this very recently.

  238. Dr Rachel Hall November 7, 2013 at 02:10 #

    http://mobilewares.wordpress.com/2011/06/15/wp7-marketplace-signup-help-for-aussies-part-3-filling-out-the-w-8ben/

    Seems to indicate that because you have an EIN you don’t need to fill out part 10 if from Australia – so I’m going to leave it blank and see what happens

  239. Sherry Marshall November 7, 2013 at 06:10 #

    Yes Linsey, The same happened to me recently with the SS4 form. I just said I had it in front of me on the computer and she just asked me the questions and I got my EIN on the phone. And amazing if everyone can do it online now on KDP. Thanks for letting us know.
    Sherry

  240. Avril Tyrell November 8, 2013 at 21:00 #

    Hello all, just came across this post. I’ve just come off the phone with the IRS and quickly received my EIN. Unfortunately, I’ve done this several months after submitting my W-8BEN form, and so I’ve had 30% of monthly royalties deducted. Mind you, I’ll not chase after the deductions, since they were negligible amounts. There does seem to be conflicting info in regards to the SS-4 form.

    I was asked about it, but all I said is that I quickly glanced over it and then she promptly moved on! I told her that I was a sole proprietor selling e-books on Amazon and then we were done in about 5 mins! I think someone mentioned in an earlier post that if you say your a individual selling books on Amazon, for some reason, it seems to speed the process along. I can now update my tax info for KDP and createspace and get back to the business of selling and promoting books.

    Sincere thanks to the blog owner and the other contributor for their helpful advice.

  241. coshoi November 8, 2013 at 23:06 #

    I called and talked to a very helpful lady from the IRS. After about 5 minutes I finally had my EIN :)

    The code for applying for an EIN was 1 and I waited for about 10 minutes before getting through to an operator. Having the SS-4 form filled out beforehand made the whole thing very easy, she just asked what I had filled in the form and I spelled out the answers.

    The entity type (field 9a) is “Sole proprietor” and I didn’t have to fill in a SSN. The reason for applying (field 10) was “Other – Compliance with IRS withholding instructions”. Apart from the SS-4 form on the IRS website you can also find a document with additional instructions regarding the form.

    At the end of the conversation your EIN will be spelled out to you, so make sure you have something to write it down on.

  242. Peter A Reynolds November 14, 2013 at 21:53 #

    Brilliant site, especially the stuff on EINs. A real help and encouragement to successfully get my EIN and my first e-book (and soon paperback) published. Thanks Catherine!

    • Captain Walker November 14, 2013 at 22:35 #

      I wanted to say a personal thank you to Catherine for all the support and guidance given. Also big thank you to all the other people who have contributed. I’ve obtained my EIN by phone this evening. I followed the instructions in the thread to the letter.

      I had a 25 min wait on the phone (Skype). A very polite lady – mature sounding voice – answered the phone. She introduced herself by name and staff ID number. She was very clear over the phone (i.e. Skype).

      She got quickly the SS-4 but I told her that it’s the same information required and I’m happy to give all that was needed over the phone.

      She took me through all the details. Interestingly she never once asked my date of birth, or for a UK NIS number. All she wanted to know was the correct spelling of my full name, my address, and home phone number. I used the Nato alphabet http://skraps.net/misc/nato_phonetic_alphabet.pdf but due to some drop out over Skype there was one misspelling, which was quickly sorted.

      She was careful to say that she had to ask me some other questions because her job required asking them, even if they appeared irrelevant. We quickly got through those questions – which were answered ‘no’ in most cases – stuff about excise taxes, whether I was going to employ US citizens etc.

      The whole experience of getting the EIN was surprisingly pain free! The main thing she wanted to know was whether I was acting as sole proprietor – and I answered ‘yes’ to that. There is no requirement to be a company to get an EIN – she was clear about that.

      Obtaining this EIN has truly unstuck me! I’m off to write some books!!! LOL. Best wishes to all.

  243. mark November 22, 2013 at 18:10 #

    Best info I have found on this subject. Got the EIN no problem because of this thread. Why not gather the best of what’s here and put it on Amazon as an ebook so more people could find it? I would have paid a buck for this at least, and it’s worth way more.

  244. mark November 23, 2013 at 20:39 #

    I checked the box on part 3 of the W-8BEN form. Will that be okay?

  245. lousouth November 25, 2013 at 04:30 #

    Fantastic post, thanks Catherine and David and all commenters! Fantastic info – you’re the very model of what an online community should be :)

    I just got my EIN over the phone, as everyone else has said, but the guy didn’t ask me about the SS-4 form and said I don’t need to fill in the W8-BEN form or any US tax returns (at least if you’re a sole proprietor).

    Also, the call centre was in Cincinnati, Ohio, not Philadelphia as I’d heard others say – no biggie, just good to know in terms of time zones. And, most importantly, the office is open from 6am to 11pm – three cheers for the IRS international affairs dept considering callers from other countries! (Wish I’d known that when I got up at 6am to call from Australia.)

    Hope this helps!

  246. mark November 25, 2013 at 20:00 #

    Why did you not post my last comment? The digital version of the W-8BEN form is different from the hard copy, Some of us need to know the answers to the questions that I posed. I hope that you have not set your face against me just because I am a Christian. That would be very small of you.

    • catherineryanhoward November 27, 2013 at 11:41 #

      Mark, I approved your comment. If you left more than one and you don’t see the other, it’s because you didn’t submit it correctly as it doesn’t show up in my comments. I find it small of you that you would assume I’d delete comments for any reason other than spam.

      Update: there’s actually two comments posted from you. All comments are held for moderation and I’m currently overseas with limited Internet access so comments will not appear immediately. Thanks for understanding.

      • alltentoes November 27, 2013 at 13:20 #

        I assumed Mark was joking. You’re so polite :)

      • mark November 27, 2013 at 18:10 #

        Okay, sorry for jumping to conclusions. Christians usually get bashed, and so I too quickly assume that must be going on. Well, I had a lot of questions. How about just one. If I send in the W-8BEN in hard copy form, do I still need to fill out the digital equivalent over in my account? I ask because there are questions in the digital version that I cannot find the answers to anywhere. Does anyone know the answer to this question?

  247. Claudia King November 26, 2013 at 16:28 #

    Phew, I finally got around to doing this, thank you very much for the article! <3
    If you're unsure about anything it's worth downloading the SS-4 document (http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fss4.pdf) and filling in your information so you have all the answers ready at hand when you get asked by the phone operator.

    I only got asked one question that confused me a little, but the lady on the phone was kind enough to explain it and everything went smoothly after that. I was on hold for around 50 mins, but the conversation itself only took around 15.

    Very smooth and simple!

  248. mark December 5, 2013 at 18:07 #

    I have just read that 64% of tax interviews were rejected last year and that many writers just have to accept that 30% will be swiped from their earnings by the IRS. The system is set up so that few writers will be exempt from paying what the law says they do not need to pay. Tax treaties mean little to big government in the USA. Getting the EIN is a happy moment that may lead to no benefit at all. I hope for better; but I wisely expect the worst when the IRS is involved.

    • catherineryanhoward December 5, 2013 at 20:06 #

      It depends on your country. Ireland has a 0% rate associated with their US tax treaty, so after getting my ITIN I get my full earnings and my tax liability is only here in my own country. It is not the IRS who observes the tax treaty in practice but the companies involved, and having been doing this since 2010 I can assure you that they do adhere to them.

      This article and subsequent comments are still helping writers sort their US tax situations so please refrain from speculating or posting irrelevant information as you might confuse or unnecessarily put off future readers from going to the trouble of getting their own.

      Please also note: all this information is for NON-US-BASED self-publishers. It is not relevant to any self-publishers living in the US, who will have a SSN and will provide that to Amazon, etc., and file their taxes, pay liabilities, etc. as they would with any income.

      • mark December 6, 2013 at 00:27 #

        The IRS decides if your form goes through. If it doesn’t go through, you can’t begin publishing. This is the way it is in 2013.

        • catherineryanhoward December 6, 2013 at 01:20 #

          Mark, again: please stick to the facts. You don’t need an ITIN or EIN or any US-related tax identification to self-publish with these companies (but if you don’t supply it to them they must by law withhold the 30%). You can provide the tax ID you use in your own country and publish just fine.

  249. lilymorenoblog December 8, 2013 at 09:34 #

    Reblogged this on lilymorenoblog and commented:
    A very helpful post on a non-US resident taxation

  250. Eyal Tantraislove December 12, 2013 at 21:21 #

    You’re a star!
    thanks for a great article !

  251. Simon Kloostra December 13, 2013 at 09:32 #

    Wow, thanks a lot! Got my EIN in minutes, having this article next to the phone. Now about to send out the W8 form and start selling my book (actually still writing it….)

  252. estherkrogdahl December 13, 2013 at 10:21 #

    Excellent. Thanks so much. For Australian authors I have summarised the key points and differences on my blog here: http://estherkrogdahl.me/2013/12/02/the-non-us-self-publishing-tax-attack/
    Thank you so much everyone for your help on this.

  253. Nikki Stokes December 14, 2013 at 03:03 #

    I am in Australia, and just rang 0011 1 267 941 1099, pressed option 1, and sat on hold for all of 10 seconds. I rang at 1:10PM on Saturday, Melbourne time, which according to worldtimebuddy.com, was 9:10PM Friday night Ohio time. I read somewhere recently on the IRS website that their hours are now 7AM to 10PM, so I thought I’d test it out, and got through just fine, taking a total of 8 minutes to get my EIN.

    I spoke to Elaine, who was most helpful. Although she didn’t ask me for it, our article number is 12 and our rate is 5%. The only question that threw me was 17 (principal line of merchandise) to which I answered books (maybe I should have said e-books?), so I hope I did that one right (fingers crossed). I did tell her that I was a self-published author on Amazon.

    I then entered my new EIN into the tax interview at Amazon KDP. I answered “no” to the “derived income” question, because that ensures that Question 10c is left unchecked (ensuring I am listed as an individual, not a business), as per this helpful KDP thread.

    https://kdp.amazon.com/community/message.jspa?messageID=659466

    I understand that there’s a bug in the process such that even if you are an individual, you get asked the “derived income” question, and you just need to answer “no” to get past it with the right answers filled out on the final W8BEN form.

    • Christopher February 11, 2014 at 16:35 #

      Thanks for noting this aspect of the W8BEN!

  254. Jackson December 16, 2013 at 09:31 #

    From someone I’ve been learning from is this blog post with step by step instructions and screen shots of each numbered step.

    http://ein-for-amazon.blogspot.com

    It looks quite easy.

  255. heze-sapience international December 18, 2013 at 22:57 #

    Reblogged this on Heze-Sapience International and commented:
    ABOUT HOW TO GET US-TAX EIN AS SELF-PULISHER

  256. Iola December 23, 2013 at 23:32 #

    Your updates above … the third one is dated December 2014. Either I had a very long sleep last night or you mean 2013. Merry Christmas, whatever year it is!

    (Please feel free to delete this comment when you’ve made the change.)

    • catherineryanhoward December 24, 2013 at 00:43 #

      LOL! Thanks for the heads-up — I’ve just changed it. It was so up to date it was a year into the future! ;-D

  257. flora December 27, 2013 at 02:21 #

    This is flora from Australia , Thank you so much , you are a lifesaver, I got my EIN yesterday and all the process took 10 minutes. Your blog is the most useful and informative blog.

  258. patrea January 2, 2014 at 12:35 #

    I want to register for EIN as a corporation (my current web business), rather than as sole proprietor.
    How does that affect the EIN form-filling, registering as a corporation?
    Are there disadvantages, compared to registering as sole proprietor – with EIN and Amazon/ Create Space

  259. Jonathan Zago January 7, 2014 at 02:14 #

    I’m Australian and I received my EIN over the phone within 15 minutes! Now all I have to do is fill in the W8 which is now electronically provided within my amazon account. Thank-you!

  260. Ken Preston January 7, 2014 at 11:59 #

    Woohoo! Five minutes on hold on the phone, spoke to a nice lady, who was very helpful, I now have my EIN! Thank you David and Catherine!

  261. Shirley January 8, 2014 at 02:38 #

    Wow, thank you for this information. I am a book writer in Melbourne, Australia and this process of getting an EIN number by phone was a piece of cake!! What a relief.

  262. An January 23, 2014 at 14:04 #

    Dear Catherine, David and all the others! I cannot find a way to thank you for your useful instructions. God bless you all!

    The right number is still the one David provided but then you press 1, not 2. I called yesterday at 10:46 am EST, waited 12 mins on hold and decided to follow the wise advice to call earlier in the morning when the IRS start their working day. Today at 7:05 am I called them, 0 min on hold and got the precious number after 11 mins speaking with a very kind lady-robot. :)

    Our company is a limited liability company (partnership) with two members. The lady confirmed that since we are based entirely outside the US and we have no presence or offices or employers there, and there is a Treaty between USA and our country (EU member) we are not obliged to file the 1120-F form BUT (!!!) we should file annually the 1065 form for U.S. Return of Partnership Income (http://www.irs.gov/uac/Form-1065,-U.S.-Return-of-Partnership-Income). She underlined “no tax due” but still I’m a little bit confused.

    Please if anyone has the same experience, any advise or interpretation would be appreciated.

    • catherineryanhoward January 23, 2014 at 14:15 #

      I think maybe she meant that you should file the equivalent of a US tax return annually (i.e. the 1065) even if it’ll show a 0.00 balance. Once a year Smashwords, Createspace, etc. send you a form (that I’ve forgotten the name of now) but it’s a record of withholdings and you use that if you’re applying for a refund/filing at return/etc. When you have an ITIN or an EIN and there’s a 0% rate tax treaty between your country and the US, these withholding records always show a zero balance. It’s just for records/procedure rather than a move that’s going to actually effect your income. (I don’t file US tax returns, although if we were going strictly by the book, I technically should file them even though it’d be all zero balances. But I was advised that the ‘IRS have bigger fish to fry than self-published e-book authors’ and let’s remember that all this was in place BEFORE self-publishing took off and added thousands if not hundreds of thousands of international clients to the IRS’ already overstretched facilities.

      This is just my interpretation though and I AM NOT A TAX EXPERT or in a position to give legal advice. As always if you’re stuck I’d send you in the direction of TaxBack.com who are an Irish company with offices around the globe and they will help you with any US tax issues for a very reasonable fee — and they’re very, very helpful! Good luck.

      • Malene January 23, 2014 at 14:53 #

        Does anyone know what the form is to file the “no tax to report” for ITIN holders?