Amazon's Digital Text Platform (DTP), my journey has been less than hassle free, so I'm posting today to help other non-US authors get through the headache of withholding taxes and IRS forms.
If you're a non-US author and you've noticed your royalty checks don't match your numbers online, it's most likely because a withholding tax has been implemented--30% on average. But there's a solution.
First, a non-US resident and DTP publisher/author does NOT need a US address or a US bank account. Amazon will mail you a check. I've been getting them for months and I'm in Canada.
However, Amazon will withhold approx. 30% of all earnings of non-US residents UNLESS authors have an ITIN, which you must get from the IRS.
For Canadian authors, this is how I did it:
1. I contacted an "Acceptance Agent" in my city. There's a list of Canadian Acceptance Agents on the IRS website.
2. I had Smashwords send me a letter stating I was selling my books through them. You need one letter only from one distributor, and when I asked Amazon they were completely uncooperative and refused to send me the letter. UPDATE: Createspace is also great about sending the letter you need, if you deal with them. You just need one letter from one retailer.
3. I filled out the W-7 form at the Agent's office, he photocopied my passport and he sent these out along with the letter from Smashwords (who are aweseome about giving letters).
4. It took about 7 weeks before I got my letter from the IRS with my ITIN.
5. Now I must fill out the W-8BEN form and send one to each US distributor (Amazon, Smashwords etc). Once they process it (in about 3-4 weeks), I'll then start receiving 100% of my earnings and will pay tax on it in my country.
Smashwords has great instructions on all this on their site. I don't know why Amazon hasn't done the same. Smashwords also has links to all the forms and the address for sending the W-8BEN. Again, Amazon could take some pointers on customer service.
As per Smashwords, here are the important links you need:
Is this a hassle? Most definitely. Especially since Amazon does nothing to assist its international publishers/authors.
Is it worth it? Yes. Why should 1/3 of my earnings be held back? I'm Canadian, I pay my taxes here.
Smashwords is fighting to have this hassle removed, and I support that. There's no reason for it. Amazon and Smashwords are acting as my distributor.
If you're Canadian and need assistance with this process, please email me via my website.
Amazon, I would be happy to work with you on a page for your Canadian & other non-US authors that would clearly and easily walk people through this process.
Does anyone know the correct mailing address for sending in the W-8BEN form to Amazon?
After emailing Amazon's support, I finally received an answer.
"We need to receive a physical copy (paper form) of the W8 that contains a US tax id and that is signed in blue ink. Please put the supplier code/vendor code, vendor code: DUVNS in the upper right hand corner and then mail it to the below address. As soon as we receive it, we will update the account and reimburse withholding that has been deducted this year. Note: withholding can only be paid back in the current year it was deducted.
Amazon Digital Services
Attn: Vendor Maintenance
PO Box 80683
Seattle, WA 98108-0683
If you have further questions, please write back to us at email@example.com."
Please note that you may want to check to ensure that the "supplier code" is the same for everyone. I have no idea if it is or if it's linked to my account only. If you know the answer, please email me at cherylktardif (at) shaw.ca.
UPDATE: One writer reported to me that the supplier code was different than mine, so your best bet is to email DTP support and ask them.
UPDATE: May 18, 2011 -
- Createspace will send you the letter you need to get the ITIN rolling, if you sell your books via them.
- Smashwords has a Google Chrome bug that is preventing emails to go through to them via the customer support link at the top of Smashwords.com. If you've emailed them about this or any other matter and haven't heard back from them in 3-5 days, your email may never have reached them. They're working on this issue. In the meantime, try IE or another browser.
- From Mark Coker at Smashwords: "At Smashwords, authors request the letters through their payee profile at https://www.smashwords.com/account/payee. They can request the letter once their account balance reaches $10.00."
Cheryl Kaye Tardif