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Quick Guide to the W-8BEN US tax form!

Posted on 2011.03.17 at 19:17

How to fill out a W-8BEN form

—Non-US Citizens, those who do not file a US Tax Return—

W-8BEN form located here: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw8ben.pdf (this link allows you to SAVE the data for later FYI)

Instructions for W-8Ben located here: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/iw8ben.pdf

This is a guide for individual authors outside of the USA to fill out the W-8BEN form to prevent with-holdings on their royalties only.  Other types of income might be different.

In order to fill out this from you MUST already have a Individual Tax Payer identification Number  (ITIN), details instructions for filling out the form are found on my blog here:  http://angelasstone.livejournal.com/13770.html

I did this to the letter and had my ITIN in about 8 weeks after sending in the forms. It may take as long as 10 weeks during peak tax times.

Once you receive your ITIN fill the form out and mail it back to your PUBLISHER (withholding Agent) immediately, this will prevent them from withholding your royalties! 

Part I

1-      Your full legal name as it appears on your taxes.

2-      The country you live in/pay taxes in (Canada for me)

3-      Type of beneficial owner: Check the box that says “Individual” ONLY

4-      Your physical address/street address NO PO boxes or In care of addresses here!

5-      Your mailing address, if it’s the same as above you do not have to repeat, but may want to anyway.

6-      Your ITIN number from the IRS, select the box “SSN or ITIT” as well

7-      Your foreign tax number (In Canada your SIN number as an example)

8-      Is not applicable unless you require it to identify a specific account, leave it BLANK in-case your publisher needs to add something in here.

Part II

9a- Select this box and write your country in the line provided. Same country as you applied for your ITIN under (so for me Canada)

9b- Select this box as you provided an ITIN

9c- DO NOT select this box

9d- DO NOT select this box

9e- DO NOT select this box


-This is the most complicated part-

According to the instructions:

Persons claiming treaty benefits on royalties if the treaty contains different withholding rates for different types of royalties”So we are required to identify the withhold rate-if any- for the withholding agent.

Let’s break it down, On the form it states:

Special rates and conditions (if applicable—see instructions): The beneficial owner is claiming the provisions of Article ____ of the treaty  identified on line 9a above to claim a ____% rate of withholding on (specify type of income): ____

So the “Article ____ of the treaty “ is the SAME article that you use for your ITIN so for Canada it’s article XII, UK is Article 12, etc. If you are not sure or want to double check here is the list of countries and their treaties:  http://www.irs.gov/businesses/international/article/0,,id=96739,00.html

Next: “to claim a ____% rate of withholding” You need to check out Publication 515, Table 1 Here: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p515.pdf  

Look under “royalties”                               

We fall under Income Code 12-Other (according to Publication 515: Other royalties (for example, copyright, recording, publishing) (Income Code 12). This category refers to the royalties paid for the use of copyrights on books, periodicals, articles etc., except motion picture and television copyrights.) Same rates as Copyrights/Patients.

You will see a number (0 for Canada and the UK 5 for Australia) that number is the % of rate of withholding.  Fill that number in under ____% rate of withholding.

(specify type of income): ____

Write: “Royalties-12, Other” Meaning that is the rate for withholding is based on Royalties, Income code 12, Other.

Explain the reasons the beneficial owner meets the terms of the treaty article:

This is the reason the Beneficial owner qualifies for the exemption, as we are all claiming treaties based on our residence. You can state something like: Beneficial Owner is a resident of Canada, meeting the terms of the treaty under Article IV (Residence).  Again check your Country’s treaty (link above) to see which article is listed as Residence (Article 4 for the UK)

Part III

11- DO NOT select this box

Part IV

Sign and Date!

Again send registered mail to your publisher(s), sending registered mail is always a good idea esp. When it includes personal tax information.

That’s it! Thankfully this form is a lot more straight forward than the W-7 form! Any question I will do my best to help, or check out: http://www.irs.gov/localcontacts/article/0,,id=101292,00.html at the bottom is a very helpful number you can call (not toll free fyi) for more information!

I will be putting this up on my Blog under “US tax form Guides”  : http://angelasstone.livejournal.com/tag/us%20tax%20forms 

Any questions feel free to let me know


Angela S. Stone


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cornelia grey. a festival of fools
corneliagrey at 2011-03-18 08:48 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you!
(Anonymous) at 2011-03-24 19:36 (UTC) (Link)

Loving you is easy cause you're awesome

I love you. Thanks for the help!!
(Anonymous) at 2011-08-17 17:36 (UTC) (Link)


Thanks so much for this info! So very helpful! I did have some moneys deducted... any instructions on how to complete the 1040NR to get the money back?
(Anonymous) at 2011-08-29 23:10 (UTC) (Link)

great help

Thanks a lot. Very nicely written. Easy to use and understand!
(Anonymous) at 2012-02-16 05:37 (UTC) (Link)
Hi Angela,

Greetings from Adelaide, Australia!

Thank you for this! You show great generosity of spirit. I just saw an advertisement which offered a program to fill the W-8BEN form for $25.00.

A friend with a doctorate from Oxford University had her W-7 form returned and is in despair as her book is with CreateSpace.

All the best

Ranjit Ratnaike MD

Author of Saradasi-The Prophecy
(Anonymous) at 2012-03-09 00:58 (UTC) (Link)
I am a New Zealand citizen and resident. I have just received by anonymous fax a form W-8BEN ascribed to IRS.gov (no country suffix) being a form for Australia Tax Withholding. In view of all web-based info assigning USA as the origination of this form I conclude a scam may be behind the fax and accordingly alert others to this possibility.
(Anonymous) at 2012-03-20 15:29 (UTC) (Link)
You can't know how grateful I am!!!
This stuff confuses me more than math :)
(Anonymous) at 2012-07-01 09:47 (UTC) (Link)
Hi Angela,

Could you please help me about finding the correct article for me. I'm selling "domains" on godaddy.com so which article do I have to use?
(Anonymous) at 2012-07-21 18:08 (UTC) (Link)
Number 3 - The instructions state that "If you are an individual, enter N/A (for "not applicable") "
(Anonymous) at 2012-08-05 18:14 (UTC) (Link)
Lifesaver! Thank you.x
(Anonymous) at 2012-12-07 21:00 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you so much for this, you do all this work and it seems that its for nothing but then someone like me comes here and it helps out soooo much, i really want you to know that i and all who read this appreciate this guide and your time that you put into it.
(Anonymous) at 2012-12-11 23:41 (UTC) (Link)
That was very helpful -- thanks very much! -- Patricia Bow
kmfrontain at 2013-01-09 17:55 (UTC) (Link)
You're an angel. For real. I got my ITIN thanks to your earlier blog on it. Now I'm back again to get the W8-BEN done right.

Btw, my passport did not arrive with the ITIN (and still hasn't arrived). Did this happen to you as well? Did it come back separate from the ITIN letter?

Edit: At the end of my form, near the dated signature, there is a blank place entitled 'capacity in which acting'. In case anyone is wondering, I found this link, which says to say 'self'. http://finance.princeton.edu/how-to/tax-compliance/students-groups-foreign/scholarships-fellowships/W8BEN_instruct.pdf

Somewhere on the web, I saw a forum post to put 'as individual', but I'm putting self.

Edited at 2013-01-09 06:27 pm (UTC)
Angela S. Stone
angelasstone at 2013-01-09 18:32 (UTC) (Link)
Yay glad you got your ITIN.

If you haven't received your passport, I would call them and ask about it. It may have gotten lost in the mail but they should have returned it registered mail! (separate from your ITIN, but still should arrive around the same time), If you don't get it in a reasonable time frame I would report it missing to start the process for a new one. If it shows up then you can tell them it's been found with no harm done, but if it has been either lost, or miss-appropriated then you're covered if it gets swiped into/out of a country.

Also you don't *have* to put self, or individual there, it's really for when agents or others are acting on your behalf, it's up to you :)!
(Anonymous) at 2013-01-31 19:25 (UTC) (Link)
I think individuals have to enter "N/A" under item # 2 in part I. Only organisations have to enter country name like Canada.
(Anonymous) at 2013-02-12 17:09 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you so much. Extremely clear and useful information!!
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