Completing Your Tax Interviews


Published 2014

This information is intended for self-publishing individuals who are non-U.S. residents and who have secured ITINs from the IRS in order to claim tax treaty benefits OR who have the tax identification number from their own country. (Those of you with EINs, in most cases your own tax ID from your own country will suffice.)

If you don’t know what any of that means, read this post first.

If the first sentence doesn’t describe you, seek help elsewhere (see bottom of the page). If you are one half of a partnership in a limited company that for tax reasons is registered on a Greek island, then that first sentence doesn’t describe you, does it? And because we’re not experts – because we’re only individuals sharing what we did – we can’t help you. Please don’t clog up the comments with asking. If you need professional help, I recommend

These screenshots are from Amazon KDP’s tax interview. CreateSpace’s is the same, it just looks different.

Chances are that some day soon, Amazon KDP’s tax interview will stop looking exactly like this. I will not be updating this post to reflect that. Instead, I will assume that you’ll be able to figure it out because the information required will still be the same – it’ll just look different. 

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1. Click YES to consent to providing an electronic signature and YES to consenting to electronic receipt of your information. This just means you avoid posting any forms. Hooray!

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2. You are none of those things, so select NO.

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3. Fill in your personal information. A little check box will appear at the bottom saying “Please confirm your address is valid.” Confirm it.

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4. Fill in your ITIN if you have one. Alternatively you can enter your own tax identification number. In the UK this is your NI number; in Ireland it’s your PPS number.

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5. If any item on that list applies to you, you’ve shown up to the wrong party. (“Spent time” does not mean “two weeks summer holiday in Orlando”. It means more than a tourist visit, which is 90+ days.) So either click CONTINUE or exit this process.

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6. Select YES or NO.

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7. This screenshot is misleading because really, I didn’t have to enter anything here. You ONLY fill this in if you are resident for income tax purposes in a country OTHER than the one in which you live.

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8. Now Amazon will tell you what the tax treaty benefit is, if there is any, for your country.

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9. Say NO. If all you’re doing is self-publishing with CreateSpace, Amazon KDP, Smashwords, etc. you DO NOT have effectively connected income. Look at the small print: ASSETS, people. What assets do you own at Amazon HQ, eh? NONE.

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10. Now Amazon generates your electronic W-8BEN…

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11. Check all the boxes 1-4 and fill int the boxes underneath (this is your electronic signature). You’re acting as an individual. Click SUBMIT W8 and stick a fork in us, we’re done!

91 thoughts on “Completing Your Tax Interviews

  1. Steve says:

    This is a great Post. Thank you so much for this valuable information. This Post has taken the anxiety factor out of my Createspace self-publishing considerations.

  2. Paige says:

    I’m looking into self publishing a few stories. I haven’t filled out anything yet. Do I have to fill out the W-8BEN before I go to this KDP tax interview or do I just do it all during the process?

  3. Ana says:

    Thank you so much for providing such useful information I couldn’t find elsewhere. I completed the form using the personal number I have in my country. But I don’t know if it worked. It tells me that it’s complete (or so it says in green) and the withholding rate. Do I need to wait for something else? Like a confirmation? I struggled with getting an EIN for months by fax and mail with no reply and now that they (seem) to accept the personal number I have here I don’t know what to believe…

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      This is the problem Ana: people can’t believe it’s as simple as it is now, hence 700+ comments on the original post despite it being up there for 2 years. You don’t need to do anything else. It’s complete and it shows you your tax withholding rate – listen to it. THAT’S IT!

      • Ana says:

        Thank you so so much! You helped me so much I’d hug you a thousand times if you were here! I’ve read your website since June this year since my “struggles” started and I can tell you it’s the best out there. And regarding the comments (which I read and analysed myself haha) I can tell you my personal opinion: many of us come from countries where self-publishing is not something…possible. More than that, there are many countries where in order to distribute or simply share something (because like in this case, Amazon is the one selling) you need to go through a LOT of paperwork, fill many forms and wait for a lot of people to give you their permission. So for some of us seeing that we can share your work so easily without going through endless lines and meetings and paperwork is literally unbelievable. I know I felt like this… So thank you again for the information and also for all your patience with everybody here!

  4. Aurora says:

    I’m still so confused. I just got a EIN assigned to me. Now, I don’t know if I need to do the W-8BEN-E or not. Ready to scream.

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      If your country has a tax treaty and you have your own tax ID from your own government, I’d forget about the EIN and fill out the tax interview as if you don’t have one at all. That’s all you need to do.

      • Aurora says:

        Hey Catherine, the tax ID number in Canada I believe is the business number assigned when I opened it. But I only opened it as a sole-proprietor to kind of keep a bit of anonymity on the net. For example, I write under a pen name, so copyright my work under the business name. And a website I have that allows downloads via paypal, I use the business name. I feel like I got myself in a pickle, lol… and I should just close it down.

        • catherineryanhoward says:

          I’m not an expert but I think that’s different.

          In Ireland every single person is assigned what we call a PPS number when we turn 16 (or old enough to work). This would be the equivalent of a SSN in the US and this is what Amazon etc. mean when they said an individual tax identification number from your own country.

          I could also register as a business and the business would have a number with which to file tax returns, etc. but that’s not what they’re looking for here.

          Supplying an individual tax number to Amazon etc in no way interferes with your privacy – they must have your real name anyway to pay you, but if you publish under a pen name you’ll know already that your real name appears nowhere on your listing, etc.

          • Aurora says:

            Okay, with the ease presented in this post, and the hair-ripping frustration I was having with the EIN & W-8BEN-E, I decided to bite the bullet. I changed everything to individual and went through the process. 10 minutes I was done on both Createspace and Amazon. Done, approved, completed. Wham, bam, thank you ma’….. I can’t believe it! I want to cry with relief. Thank you so much, Catherine. In the end, keeping a business open just to use the name was just too much of a hassle.
            Your post was my life-saver. Thank you!!

  5. Gary Dixon (@garyauthordixon) says:

    Hi Catherine. Thankyou for going through the simple process.
    After doing this with Kindle which I have done, do I get a confrimation mail or e-mail with my W-* or ITIN code. Or does Amazon keep it?
    Thanks again,
    Best wishes,

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      I don’t know what you mean. You know your ITIN already if you entered it. There is no confirmation – the fact that you are no longer seeing an message about entering your account information IS the confirmation.

  6. leeannestack says:

    Catherine, you have saved me a few baldspots. I was set to pull my hair out after receiving yet another rejection from the IRS for my ITIN. Thank you so much for your excellent advise. I’m looking forward to reading “Mousetrapped”.

  7. Michelle says:

    Hi Catherine.
    I used your original post to get en EIN – and many thanks for making that easy.
    Do I now need to leave the EIN at CS and KDP or can I substitute my own tax number? My country has a 5% treaty.
    Sorry to pick your brains again but dang if I can find any information saying yea or nay.

  8. george says:

    I am from Romania and I don’t know what tax identification number to complete in W 8 Ben.On my identity card , also on my driver license there is a personal number that consist of 13 digits. Shall I complete that form W8 Ben with this number?

  9. natalie says:

    Thanks very much for this it’s very helpful. i was ready to run away from this interview- test. Nice to find you’re in Ireland. Me too. I’ve another question, if you don’t mind, google wont answer it. Some people make up publishing names, so people think they’re not self-published and buy their ebooks. Apart from starting up a business, which is very costly in Ireland, how would I go about making up a publisher name, instead of using Amazon or my pen name.? what would be the legal implications in this?

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      I don’t know Natalie because I didn’t do it. I also don’t recommend it. You said it yourself: people do it so other people don’t know they’ve self-published. That’s a bit ridiculous. The aim of the game is to do everything to such a high standard that people don’t know/care you’ve self-published and are suitably impressed when they find out. We’re never going to raise the credit of self-publishing if we pretend we’re something we’re not. We need to produce great looking books to prove how professional self-publishing can be. Also, I ALWAYS go for the simplest option and in this case, that’s not inventing or creating your own publishing company and registering as such. To me it is utterly pointless and a waste of time and money. You and I know what “CreateSpace” means, but does the average reader? Do you know who published the last 5 books you bought? Which publishing house? It doesn’t matter to readers, so it shouldn’t matter to us. Keep things simple, that’s my advice.

      • natalie says:

        oh, ok. I think my main reason is that I would like my print novels to be in actual bookstores, and I’ve read absolutely everywhere that if the bookstore knows that your book is self-published (not have a publishing name- or logo) and have createspace or lulu or lightening source on it they won’t accept it. is that correct?
        It looks more professional if it has a name and logo on it… or so I’m told…and more likely to be accepted in real print bookstores.(says a lot of usa authors)

        ps I love the snowballs falling.

        • catherineryanhoward says:

          This is way too big a topic to answer in a comment you might read my Self-Printed book for more info, but POD self-publishing and bookstores don’t go together for many reasons. But why would you want to get into bookstores? You can sell globally online, easily and for a bigger profit. But anyway…
          CreateSpace will not appear anywhere on your book (there’s no logo, etc.) But that’s besides the point. I despair at this idea that the presence or absence of a logo will inform a bookseller of a book’s origins; it is such a ridiculous view of booksellers I don’t know where to start. Also, nothing USA authors have to say about self-publishing and bookstores is relevant here in Ireland. It’s a totally different planet as far as book selling is concerned. Anyway Natalie it seems like you have a lot to think about and, not to push my book so blatantly, but it would be good for you to read it and get an overview of the whole operation (from an Irish perspective) before you start to make decisions on a micro-level.

  10. natalie says:

    Me again, please help Catherine as I am confused… I read no.2 again, and am stuck there, I was in the USA last year for 9 months, (husband did training there) but was Not there this year or in 2012, so do I say no there?? I did not have any of the visa types in no. 5, but I do have an SSN (which I got many years ago) so do I use that or do I just use my PPS no.? eeeekk. I was thrilled to find out that we can use our PPS no.’s but now I’m not sure I can as I was there last year, and have a SSN. thank you so much in advance for your advice.

  11. EmHeart says:

    Thank you! I finished my book a year ago and decided to do another edit, I didn’t think it would take a whole year. Dam life getting in the way. However, I’m glad because this process was so easy! I’ve got your PDF book open, your blog and KDP, and so far I’ve only needed two coffees to get this book publishing process moving. Thanks again.

  12. Kelly says:

    CATHERINE! You are a lifesaver! But I am stuck with something. I am from scotland so I am filling in the tax information interview online as we speak. I have an EIN that I have entered and it was accepted. But for ‘SSN or ITIN’ I’m putting in my national insurance number with the dashes like it states and it says it is not a recognised format. Any guidance? xx

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      I’m not 100% sure what you mean but you can’t do both. You can’t say you have an EIN or ITIN and then try to enter your own foreign (i.e. Scottish) tax ID. You must pick a lane and then stay in it all the way through..

  13. leigh says:

    I’ve completed the Amazon form inputting my NIN, but I’m not clear if I can do the same on Createspace. Can you advise?

  14. geriphysio says:

    Thank you again Catherine,
    It took me 5 minutes to update my Amazon tax information. It already shows as “Complete” and updated today with a withholding rate of 5% (I’m in Australia). So that is all correct. Yay!!
    I followed your screenshots and only used my Aussie Tax File Number. (I got my EIN using your post from long ago… pity I don’t need to use it now)
    There is a slight problem: Amazon have changed the order and look of their tax interview. The information you give is correct and works like a charm, but the “Consent for electronic signature…” screen comes just before you need sign (logical eh?). There are several other cosmetic changes.
    Next time I run afoul of the inscrutable Amazon, instead of wasting hours reading confusing forums, I’ll just come straight here.

  15. clarelondon says:

    This is excellent help :). May I reproduce it on my Accountancy for Authors website, with full credit to you of course? I’m just starting out as a full-time author and also (qualified) accountant and this is one of the pieces of useful information I’d like to offer visitors to my website. I can be contacted on clarelondon11 AT, and please believe me when I say no disrespect, high-handedness or sneaky theft is intended! 🙂

  16. Peter says:

    Many thanks for this. Writing on Jan.3.15, I find that the order of the questions is not the same as the one shown in your examples, but, having read through your advice, this made filling in the present forms painless. BRILLIANT!

  17. Huw Thomas says:

    Thank you so much for this, I missed the vital radio button that let you input your foreign tax ID so this is a life-saver (or at least a 30% saver!) for me.

  18. Carmen Fox says:

    I spent the last few weeks investigating the ITIN and then the EIN. I was close to giving up… Then I stumbled over your post. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I assume that, even though I will publish as a sole trader under SH Publishing, I’m still an individual and give my actual name here, and not the name under which I publish? And I assume my pen name won’t come into it either? Thanks again. 🙂

  19. Tim Smalls says:

    Enormously helpful info. Thanks ever so much, Catherine. I’m in Ireland and was just wondering what happens after submitting the W8BEN. As self-publishing is a kind of self-employment, am I then considered to be self-employed, or what do Amazon even do with my completed W8BEN once I’ve submitted it. Do they send it off to Irish tax authorities to confirm? I’m currently unemployed, so all I need is for the government to turn around to me and say, hey, you sold 8 copies – not a self-esteem issue, I’m just starting out, so I don’t expect the bestsellers list just yet! – of your book last year so we’re considering you to be self-sufficient and thus going to screw you over for being so lucratively self-employed. Or am I talking tax stuff that is outside the remit of your website? Thanks again for sharing your info.

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      There’s no connection between the IRS and Revenue that I’m aware of but legally you should register here as self-employed and file a tax return that includes your ebook earnings.

      • Tim Smalls says:

        Great. Thanks for the advice. I’ll see how I go so. Might buy your guide to self-publishing too. I’m fumbling my way through this whole thing. Cheers

  20. David says:

    I have created an ebook on behalf of my mother from typewritten material (no mean feat). I am a sole trader and plan to to split the profits if any. Does this mean I am not a self publsher and will I have to fill in the form differently or do I just enter my NI number as advised?

      • David says:

        So does this mean I can use my NI number even though my sole trader business has a business name and its my mothers book. I thought this made me a publisher rather than an author-publisher. Also does the former require a TIN and the latter just your NI number or is it just a distinction between sole trader and a limited company.

  21. David says:

    Does anyone know if iBookstore takes advantage of the new rules allowing you to input your NI number to the US tax Authorities?. I understand you need to create an iTunes Connect account (where you submit your status) and use iTunes Publisher to upload the book to iBookstore. Provided the book is in epub format you can publsh it elsewhere but not if in .ibook format.

  22. Martin says:

    Still struggling with understanding this. Can anyone help. I have a UK limited company of which I am a director publish my books. Do I still need to obtain an EIN or can I actually just use my own personal National insurance number. Or even UK company number?

    • clarelondon says:

      Martin, as Catherine says. But as far as I’m aware, if you’re a limited company, you need an EIN. Your NI number is only for you as an individual. An EIN can be obtained by telephone, albeit an overseas call, follow the guide online :).

  23. Guillaume says:

    Great post. I was stalling with my Createspace registration because of the tax number requirement. I am from Canada and couldn’t find any help, even after contacting Createspace who pointed me to the IRS. Your post put me at ease and I got right to it and completed the registration and got my Canadian exemption. Thanks for putting this step-by-step post together.

  24. Mandy says:

    Thanks for this, i wonder if you could post an updated version, while i managed to complete the interview it does look a little different now.

  25. Therese says:

    Thanks a mil for this. I was dreading having to fight my way through the red tape and then I read your update that says ‘You don’t need to do this if you have a tax number from a country that has a treaty’ … Lucky for me, Australia does. I be happy now. Thank you for clarifying that!

  26. David says:

    I am having difficulties with NookPress. I posted a W8BEN form, they updated my vendor account to 0% royalties witheld, but now have come back saying I need to apply for a TIN number. I an an individual sole-trader not a limited company. They want to telephone me – any advise? I am thinking of calling the IRS.

  27. leeannestack says:

    Smashwords has finally caught up and apparently they will do this if you can provide your last tax return from your country.

    I sent off my information about one and a half to two months ago and asked them to respond once it went through. So far I haven’t heard anything.

  28. leeannestack says:

    Smashwords finally have changed their rules, however, I submitted my requested paperwork to them about 2 months ago (I’m Canadian) and I still haven’t heard back from them.

  29. Grace says:

    This is a fantastic resource – I don’t know how I would have completed these interviews without your help – many thanks.

  30. Kim says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this. The internet directed me to your original post back when the EIN was the way to go. It just directed me back here again. Some time ago Amazon insisted I update my hitherto perfectly fine tax details, but would not accept the same info again. Did they say that out loud at any point? No. (I suspect I was flagged on some list of authors to frustrate to the point that they unpublish and go away due to my paltry royalties being not worth the admin to them – it worked). But since then they changed the form, and with a new book idea in mind I have now used my home country tax number and it seems to have worked. Thanks again for flagging this great change.

  31. emfairley says:

    Hi Catherine, I got my EIN today, using my real name and doing business as my pen name. I’m now trying to fill this form in and my question is this… Do I fill it in stating my pen name is my “disregarded entity”? If so, which option do I check in section 5 (Chapter 4 status)? I don’t have any legal documentation making the connection between me and the pen name. Thanks in advance

    • emfairley says:

      Also, the reason for using the pen name is anonymity. I don’t want my name linked to the pen name anywhere online, so can I fill the form in on the pen name’s KDP account using the EIN?

      • catherineryanhoward says:

        I’m not an expert so I’d recommend double-checking this elsewhere but if I was using a pen name, here’s what I do:

        1. On all documentation and in registering my KDP account, I’d use my real name.
        2. When you create a new title on KDP, put your pen name in as the “author”.

        The only place the internet gets your author name from, as far as I know, is from that box on KDP that you see when you’re in the process of publishing a new title. Nothing you enter into the account information is made public, and you must (of course) use your actual personal information when filling out revenue forms and other legal documentation. For instance, if you were a publisher and not an author, you would fill out the KDP account information in your own name, and then if John Smith was the author of the first book you were publishing, you’d put “John Smith” in as the author of the title and “John Smith” would come up on Amazon and elsewhere. There’d be no mention of your name, because you’re not the author. The author and the KDP account holder do not have to be the same person, they just generally are. Does that make sense?

        So on my ITIN/EIN information, I wouldn’t even have mentioned my pen name. I don’t think there’s a need…? But as I said, I’m not an expert and you should double-check elsewhere. Just remember that the key to this is keeping it simple. People get into trouble when they start over thinking what the form demands, not what – in practice – the IRS actually need/want.

        • emfairley says:

          Thanks so much for your speedy response Catherine! It makes perfect sense and does allay the fear of the two being linked. I don’t mind them being linked for IRS purposes because the EIN is in my name.

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