You should provide Amazon, Apple and other online ebook sellers with tax information because these companies are legally required to withhold a percentage of royalties earned until non-U.S. authors settle their tax status.
Employer Identification Number (EIN)
The first thing you need to do is get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. Download the SS-4 form and have a look through it. You won't be filling this form out but it outlines the information you will supply to the IRS.
Call the IRS on +1 (267) 941-1099. This number is specifically for foreign businesses and the call centre is open from 6:00am GMT. Call early to avoid delays. Tell the operator you require an EIN to sell ebooks through Amazon, or other service. Make a note of your new EIN.
Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing
If you publish via Amazon, log into your Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) account and update your tax information. This is where you'll let Amazon know you aren't a U.S. citizen, don't own a business in the U.S., but have an EIN and live in country that has a tax treaty with them.
Apple iTunes Connect
If you publish via Apple, log into your iTunes Connect account and go to the Agreements, Tax and Banking section. Use the Request Paid Books Agreement link and fill in the form. You will then be able to download the Paid Books Agreement and provide your EIN.
Amazon may ask you for a W8-BEN form. Download the form, print it out and fill it in. (Instructions for filling out the form are available.)
Information required includes the following:
- Your full legal name.
- The country you live in. Give the full name. E.g. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
- Type of benefical owner. Most likely individual.
- Your postal address. Again, provide all details. Don't abbreviate anything.
- Your EIN.
- Foreign tax number. The tax number for the country you live in.
- Your KDP publisher number.
- Tax withholding rate. For the UK this is 0%, but IRS Publication 515 has up to date information.
Send the W8-BEN form to:
Attn: A/P Tax
PO Box 80683
Seattle, WA 98108-0683
Other information and links
Check with Amazon, Apple, the IRS and other agencies if in doubt about any of this. You may find the following links useful too.