US Tax Withholding for Non-US Authors Publishing as Individuals

How to claim reduced or no US tax withholdings on your royalties

Non-US authors’ royalties from book sales in the US are subject to a 30% withholding tax unless the required paperwork to claim full or partial exemption is filed.

The amount of exemption you can claim depends on the tax treaty that your country has with the US.

Steps for individuals to claim reduced or no US tax withholding:

  1. Obtain a US tax identification number, called an ITIN (Individual Tax Identification Number) .
  2. Complete form W8-BEN (using your ITIN) and send it to your publisher (or each of your US distributors)

How to get an ITIN

  1. Request an original hand-signed letter from your publisher, addressed to the IRS, which states that you need an ITIN because you are going to receive royalties during the current tax year that are subject to IRS information reporting and/or federal tax withholding.
  2. Download form W-7 from the IRS website. The IRS provides instructions to help fill in the form.
  3. Make a copy of your passport and get it notarised. Notarisations must be done by the issuing office or the US consulate. If you have the notarization done at the US consulate, make sure that you take your passport, the copy, the completed W-7 form and your publisher's letter.
  4. Mail the notarised passport copy, the completed W-7 form and the letter from your publisher to Internal Revenue Service, ITIN Operation, P.O. Box 149342, Austin, TX 78714-9342. The courier address is International Revenue Service, ITIN Operation, Mail Stop 6090-AUSC, 3651 S. Interregional, Hwy 35, Austin, TX 78741-0000.
  5. You should receive an ITIN in about 6-8 weeks.