21 November 2013

SELF PUBLISHING - ITIN Information Update

If you live outside the USA, Smashwords and Amazon (or whoever you are selling your books through), will withhold 30% tax.  However, if your country of residence has a Tax Treaty with the USA, you can prevent this from happening by applying for and obtaining an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number ITIN.

An ITIN number is a US tax processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service.

A Tax Treaty is a bi-lateral agreement made between two countries to resolve issues involving double taxation.

Please note that you are not obliged to obtain an ITIN but if you wish to, the following is the process:-

Download a W-7 form from the IRS website along with instructions for filling it out.  At the same time, download a W-8BEN form.  W-8BEN instructions.

The W-7 form requires that you submit proof of your identity.  If you wish to use your passport to do this, you will have to send your current passport and a photocopy of it for certification to the US Consulate General’s office in your home city.  The following link is from the US Embassy in Canberra, Australia.  It provides information on what is required, however, this is an Australian site so please check the US Consulate General’s web site in your own particular city.  http://canberra.usembassy.gov/itin_w-7.html

You will also need a letter from your publishing company explaining why you need an ITIN number.  This letter can be downloaded from Kindle Direct Publishing after you have uploaded your book on to their site.  Similarly, I believe you can obtain just such a letter from Smashwords also.

When you have gathered all the documentation you need, mail it to:-

Internal Revenue Service
ITIN Operation
PO Box 149342
Austin, TX 78714-9342

I think this process takes about six weeks.  When you receive your ITIN number, you then need to fill in the W-8BEN form with your ITIN number and send a copy of this form to whoever you are selling your books through.  For example, Smashwords, Kindle Direct Publishing, CreateSpace.

The following two links from Kindle Direct Publishing endeavour to explain the ITIN application process:-

US Tax Returns - ITIN holders
At time of writing, I am still investigating whether it is necessary for ITIN holders to file US Tax Returns if one lives in a country that has a Tax Treaty with the US.  If any of my readers can enlighten me on the subject, I would be most grateful.

I can say, however, that as a Non-Resident Alien who has an ITIN, and receives royalty payments, I did receive Form 1042-S (Foreign Person's U.S. Source Income Subject to Withholding) forms from both Amazon and Smashwords. This form is a year-end tax document that you enclose with your tax return. The tax return document, Form 1040NR (US Non-resident Alien Income Tax Return) can be downloaded, along with instructions on how to fill it out, from the IRS internet site.

However, as I mentioned earlier, I'm still trying to find out whether it is necessary to file a tax return.  I will do an update on this when I find out.


Employee Identification Number (EIN)
Thanks to one of my readers, it has been brought to my attention that if you are a self published author who publishes through your own company (that company being set up outside the US) you can apply for an EIN number instead of an ITIN.  Obtaining an EIN is a much simpler process that can be conducted over the telephone.  The following web link and Post by, author, David Gaughran, gives step by step information on how to apply.

Catherine Ryan Howard's Blog

US Tax Returns - EIN Holders
I believe that David Gaughran mentions what is require as far as tax purposes for EIN holders in his Post.


  1. I suppose it's because I live in the US I have never heard of this but it's great info for those who need to know how to submit these forms. Your attention to detail never ceases to amaze me Jill. Kudos to you!

  2. Thanks, Anna. I hope it reaches those who are looking for this information.

  3. I found your great blog through the WLC Blog Follows on the World Literary Cafe! Great to connect! Make sure to follow me back at http://lorenmathisbooks.blogspot.com/ . Thanks!


  4. Great article. Thanks for the info, you made it easy to understand. BTW, if anyone needs to fill out a form 1042-S, I found a blank form in this site PDFfiller. This site also has some tutorials how to fill it out and a few related tax forms that you might find useful.

    1. Thank you for commenting, Paul, and also for the extra information on forms. They can be quite daunting to fill out so everything helps. Have a lovely Christmas. Jill