Non US Citizens Withholding Tax – Amazon EIN W8

Getting Your EIN W8 and Amazon's Tax Questionnaire

How to Get an EIN and Complete Amazon’s Tax Questionnaire

Like many of you I got an email from Amazon recently :

“In order for Amazon to comply with U.S. tax reporting regulations, it is required that all KDP publishers provide valid taxpayer identification. Our records are showing we haven’t received valid tax information for your account yet. To ensure you may continue selling on Amazon, please complete your tax information by 10/25/2013.”

I have been intending to look into withholding tax for some time, but just never seemed to get round to it. Actually I have ‘a round-

Get around to your EINtuit’ as my Husband bought me ‘a round-tuit’ mug for Christmas still it was not a priority as my book sales have always been mainly in the UK. Like a lot of writer’s procrastination seems to come with the gig, but now every time I log into my Amazon account I see the banner telling me my tax information is incomplete.  So I decided that it was time to take the plunge and this is what happened.


So How Do You Complete Amazon’s Tax Questionnaire?

First Get Your EIN – Here’s How:

Using Skype and the hands free from my Blackberry, I phoned:

US 1 267 941 1099

You will get the normal press this button, and at the time of writing this it was 1 for non-US citizens requiring an EIN. (Employer Identification Number)

Remember you are calling across the pond, I tried once on Labour Day and once in the morning – not sure what time they open but 2pm worked on the third try.

Be prepared for a wait, I was on hold for about fifteen minutes but then it was easy, this is what I got asked:

Q: Are you applying for an EIN?

A: Yes.

Q: She then asked me the dreaded do you have a form SS-4 filled out?

A: Everywhere I have looked tells you that if they ask this question hang up and try again, having just been on hold for fifteen minutes I decided to say – Yes.

The lady just said okay let’s go through it.

Hugh Phew form this side of the phone.

Q: She asked me what it was for?

A: With-holding tax for eBooks.

I was then asked three questions one of which was US tax – answer no. The others were all un-applicable something about heavy goods? Just answer no.

Just Give Them Your Tax Details to Get Your EIN

Next just give your details. If you are an individual tell them you are a sole proprietor and use your name as the company name. I did this but also used my publishing company, but there is no need to complicate this, you are an individual use your own name.

You will have to deal with any tax due, in your own country, for me the UK. If you are making any profits then it is no longer a hobby and you will need to use self-assessment to inform the UK Inland Revenue of you profits, but this is a different post altogether.

You will need to be prepared to spell out, name, address, etc and wait for the operator to spell it all back to you. My operator was great but it was really strange hearing United Kingdom spelt out.

She will then give you your EIN. Write it down and confirm it, then write it somewhere safe, post it to yourself and make a few hundred copies in safe places so you won’t lose it.

Now go back to Amazon or other online retailers and let them know your shiny new EIN.

This was so simple and took about twenty minutes and only eight months of procrastination.

Filling in Your Amazon Tax Questionnaire

For Amazon you can now complete your W8-BEN online. Log into you Amazon bookshelf and click on the box to complete your tax information. There is a link to a help page open this in another window, just in case you need to refer to anything.

The form is pretty self explanatory, the only difficult parts I found were it asked for a TIN – this is simply your EIN without the dash.

Keep filling in the form and press continue to advance each page.

You will come to a question Do you derive the income from which you can claim treaty benefits? This is your royalty income with Amazon and yes you do, so tick yes.

It will then tell you that your withholding tax rate is 0%. Woo Hoo.

Next it will show you your W8 – just review all the information to make sure it is correct then click continue, this takes you to the next page where you can electronically sign and submit it to Amazon. Type in your name and on the drop down box click individual – unless of course you are a company, but you got that didn’t you.

Now print out a copy of your W8 and go celebrate with whatever floats your boat.




Tags: , ,

Leave A Reply (32 comments so far)

You must be logged in to post a comment.

  1. KJ Mansfield
    1349 days ago

    Hi Caroline,
    Great post.
    I was going crazy trying to discover what a Tax Identification number was and how to find mine.
    Before I phone the US, would you be so kind as to reveal which tax details they will ask for?
    I am worried I will be asked for tax details I don’t know and will be back to square one.
    Sorry for the interrogation but “Tax needn’t be confusing” doesn’t work for me!
    If you could let me know what tax info they will ask for…tax reference number or National insurance number etc.. it would be a big help?
    Thank you very much and good luck.

    • CGebbs
      1349 days ago

      They won’t ask for anything complicated, they don’t need a tax reference or national insurance number. They will ask for your business details tell them you are a sole proprietor and give your name as the company name. (unless you have a business name of course.) And that was all there was to it. Good luck and if you get stuck just get back to me with any other questions but it really was that simple.

      This is for the US side of tax only, if you make any profit on your books you will need to deal with this in the UK usually by telling the inland revenue you are running a business and then putting it on your self assessment.


    • CGebbs
      1347 days ago

      So pleased it helped. I think as with many things the fear of getting started is worse than the task itself. Thank you for your kind comments on my book, yes boxers are the best. I have two whites at the moment, love them to bits.

  2. KJ Mansfield
    1347 days ago

    Hi Caroline,
    Thank you very much for all your help.
    I couldn’t get through the first day I tried to phone the USA. I tried several times but kept getting a recorded message stating my call could not be dealt with at that time and to try again later.
    I phoned the next day and got through first time without trouble. I had to press 1 as you did to apply for an EIN and then had to wait for about 15 minutes to speak to someone, but then it was very straight forward.
    The lady I spoke was very pleasant. She asked me if I had filled in form SS-4, as you said she would, and I said yes. Then it was just a matter answering a few simple questions, such as “Was I going to employ anyone in the US?” and providing my name, address and telephone number.
    EZPZ even for a taxnophobe like me!
    Thanks again.
    KJ Mansfield
    P.S. I bought your Kindle book “Dog-Gone Tails” from the Amazon. I’ve really enjoyed the three “tails” I’ve read so far and am looking forward to reading the others. I’ve had a couple of boxers and they are the most terrific dogs.

  3. Penelope
    1318 days ago

    Thanks a million, Caroline. Helped me clear the last hurdle after weeks of procrastination.

    • CGebbs
      1317 days ago

      So pleased it helped

  4. Jan
    1314 days ago

    Hi Caroline,
    thank you very much! Your post made the process much easier for me! Being non-English person from the Czech Republic and an individual, who had sold but a few books, I was pretty scared, when I received the Amazon’s Tax Questionnaire. And although it was really tough for me to spell my Czech name in English on the Telephone-line to receive EIN, I could finish the process because of your step-by-step description.
    So thank you again!

    • CGebbs
      1314 days ago

      So pleased it helped, us Indies need to stick together

  5. Bosun.
    1313 days ago

    Thanks for the article Caro, with confidence I can call the IRS. Thanks a lot.

    • CGebbs
      1313 days ago

      My Pleasure

  6. Theo
    1286 days ago

    I’m fairly certain that what you’ve said here about the question “Do you derive the income from which you claim the treaty benefits?” is wrong. It seems to be A LOT more complicated than you suggest.

    Frankly, I still find the whole thing utterly baffling myself, but this is what Amazon has to say on their so-called “Help” page:

    An item of income paid to an entity is considered to be derived by the entity only if the entity is not fiscally transparent under the laws of the entity’s jurisdiction with respect to the item of income. An item of income paid to an entity shall be considered to be derived by the interest holder in the entity only if:
    • The interest holder is not fiscally transparent in its jurisdiction with respect to the item of income, and
    • The entity is considered to be fiscally transparent under the laws of the interest holder’s jurisdiction with respect to the item of income. An item of income paid directly to a type of entity specifically identified in a treaty as a resident of a treaty jurisdiction is treated as derived by a resident of that treaty.

    Not really that much help at all, is it?

    Not that I have a neat answer to offer either, I’m afraid. I’m still trying to figure out if I’m a fiscally transparent entity…

  7. Theo
    1286 days ago

    Okay, here’s the most cogent analysis I could find about the question of deriving income. I personally answered “No”.

    Bear in mind I’m not a lawyer, accountant, tax agent, or anything like that. I’m just another author trying to find my own way through this legal maze…

  8. mark gaboury
    1285 days ago

    I have some questions, if you don’t mind. The SS-4 is different from the W8-BEN. Is it outside the tax interview or inside it? Do I need a passport to get through this? And I did not get that last part. If I claim sole proprietor and use my name as the company, do I click ‘individual’ or ‘company’ in the drop down box? Thanx.

    • CGebbs
      1272 days ago

      Yes the SS4 is for the tax office. (I did not fill one in, just told them I had and answered the questions as they came up) The W8-BEN is for Amazon and you fill this in after you have got your EIN.4

      A sole proprietor is an individual who is running a business. A company is a legal entity in its self, so if you are a sole-proprietor you would use your name and click individual.

      Hope this helps and sorry for the delay I missed this comment.


  9. Sherryl Caulfield
    1272 days ago

    Dear Caroline. Sending you the biggest bunch of virtual flowers in thanks for this wonderful and insightful blog. I just got off the phone to a lovely lady at the IRS in Cincinnati, who could not have been more helpful. I only had to wait about 3 mins on the phone and it was all done in about 10 minutes.

    If anyone needs it, here is a link to the SS-4 Forms on the US IRS website.,-Application-for-Employer-Identification-Number-(EIN)

    I downloaded the Form under Current Products so I had it in front of me as we went through the questions. Questions asked were my name, my company or business name, my address, phone number and 3 questions related to: US employees, Goods being transferred on a truck and Excise duty. My EIN is effective immediately but she said it may take up to 2 weeks before organisations can find it online. A hard copy is coming to me via the post. Now I’m off to navigate the Amazon W8 Forms. It appears based on the conversation with her that because I have completed an SS-4 application I do not need to complete a W-7 Form which I have seen elsewhere…

    So thanks again. Really do appreciate your help :-)


    • CGebbs
      1272 days ago

      Thanks for the virtual flowers and so pleased this was helpful.


  10. Amy
    1264 days ago

    I used your advice (very helpful by the way) but they didn’t accept the info provided. When I went to check the page, I’d used my author name previously in the box that asks for your Full name/company name, so now I’ve changed it back to the same name I gave the lady at the IRS. I didn’t realize it was that. Anyway, on the page of the form where it says Personal Information. Do you write in the individual section or the organization section? I presume individual right?

  11. Cody
    1259 days ago

    Thanks for the info caroline, this question may sound dumb…

    i am from Malaysia where there are no tax treaties with the US, my question is, even if i get my EIN number, do i still get deducted 30% outright? so this only works for certain countries with tax treaties?

  12. Jason
    1237 days ago

    As a Canadian, do I have to submit tax returns to the US? The person on the phone says I do but I thought I read I didn’t.

  13. James Rugg
    1166 days ago

    Hi Caroline,
    Do you know how I get an EIN now that the system has changed? Please help – it seems that I can only get one (as a uk individual now) if I have a ITIN or SSN. What can you advise please?
    Thank you

    • CGebbs
      1164 days ago

      Hi James

      I didn’t know the system had changed. Follow the instructions and ask them, they were very helpful.


  14. Julie Bonifacino
    1144 days ago

    Hi Caroline
    Thanks for posting this information and guidance. I use a pen name for my book and I have created another name as publisher as I don’t want to use my real name (too long and difficult to pronounce). When I give my information, do I use my real name or my pen name?
    Many thanks.
    Kind regards
    Julie Bonifacino

    • CGebbs
      1144 days ago

      I used my real name as that is your business, unless you set your business up in your pen name.

  15. Julie Bonifacino
    1143 days ago

    Hi Caroline
    Thanks for that. I’ll give it a try this afternoon – fingers crossed I can do it first time.

  16. Julie Bonifacino
    1143 days ago

    Hi Caroline
    Got it first time! Many thanks

  17. Richard Carroll
    1090 days ago

    Thanks for that Caroline.
    The whole process took me seven minutes. The SS-4 form is just an aid for the interview and does not have to be sent in or even filled in for that matter.

  18. Vasilious Firippis
    1007 days ago

    Hi Caroline, thank you so much for this. I followed your guidelines and obtained my number. You made it simple for us. I like a lot of people find this so confusing, but you should change the picture at the top of looking stressed to being happy with all the people you have helped. Thanks again and blessings to you.

  19. Sam Collyer
    974 days ago


    Slightly different question here.

    I successfully obtained an EIN back in April 2014 and completed the Amazon tax enquiry without a hitch. However I now wish to publish on CreateSpace and have just found out that although this is an Amazon company too they require that the tax form be completed again-unfortunately as it turns out.

    The problem is that the system will not accept the EIN.

    I would be grateful if anyone has a solution to this issue.