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How to Claim Back US Tax on Royalties

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Sally Clements

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If you are an author selling books into the American market, you have to have an ITIN number for tax purposes. American publishers previously sent royalty cheques without one, but new rules introduced this year mean that they cannot send you royalties outside the country without one. From what I understand, if you are publishing on Amazon, Smashwords etc, they will send you royalties, but will automatically deduct 30% if you don’t have an ITIN. You might think your sales won’t warrant the hassle with the paperwork,  but if you start selling well, you’ll want that 30% back!

The form for claiming the royalties is the W-8 form, which should be filled in for each market, eg. For each publisher, Amazon, etc.

On the W-8 should be your ITIN, and the following explains how you go about filling in a W-7 and getting your ITIN.

This document is intended only as a guide. I’m an author, not a tax specialist, and it is the responsibility of every person to check and read the guidelines (which are extensive!) in the information document highlighted in the article – the method that I followed may vary dependent of your own, individual circumstances.

Applying for an ITIN – or completing the W-7 form.


A first look at the W-7 form, and its documentation can strike fear into the heart of the bravest author. So here’s a step by step look at how I filled mine in, and received my ITIN. I was lucky to have the help of my publisher, The Wild Rose Press, and Canadian author Bronwyn Storm (http://www.bronwynstorm.com/) in filling mine out. I’m based in Ireland, so do take that into account if you’re applying from a different country.

The W-7 is filled in online.

Open up a blank W-7 from here: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw7.pdf

And the ‘how to complete a W-7’ instructions from here: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/iw7.pdf

And the document online which details tax treaty article numbers: http://www.irs.gov/businesses/international/article/0,,id=96739,00.html#I

First, read through the instructions file. Then leave it open or print it out to refer to while completing the W-7.

Here’s how I completed it.  Starting at the top…

Reason for submitting a W-7:

(You are a non-resident alien, so…)

Check “a”

And you also have to check “h”. Beside “h” list your exception. Authors are exception 1d. So put in here, 1(d) – Royalty income

After that, list your treaty county (in my case, “Ireland”) and the treaty article number.

The treaty article number is found in this link, http://www.irs.gov/businesses/international/article/0,,id=96739,00.html#I

And in the case of Ireland, is 12.

Now into the body of the form. It is important that no lines are left blank. I suggest filling this out carefully, with the instructions page open or printed off next to you, just to make sure you don’t forget anything.

Fill out (carefully!) every line.


Name at birth if different.

Applicant’s mailing address. (Remember if from Ireland, put in nozip).

Foreign address if different from above. (If you don’t enter an address in here, make sure to add N/A in all of these boxes, the form will be sent back if any line is left empty.)

Birth information.

Now for the section on ‘other information’

6a is your country or countries of citizenship.

6b is your foreign tax ID number. I put my Irish tax number in here.

6c is your U.S. Visa (if you have one)

6d I sent a notarized copy of my passport, that I got from the American Embassy in Dublin. In order to get it, you have to make an appointment, and attend with the completed W-7, money to pay for the notarized copy, a completed W-8 form and a copy of the letter from your publisher/amazon/smashwords, confirming that you need a W-7. Tick passport in this box, and fill in the relevant details. Remember to put N/A in any boxes that you aren’t completing.

6e is for visiting professors and students. So I entered No.

6f is therefore N/A

6g is therefore N/A

Finally, the last section deals with signatures. I was the applicant, so signed, dated and added phone number. I put N/A in all the boxes pertaining to ‘delegate’.

When you take your passport to receive a notarized copy, the official will scan and make sure that your W-7 and other documents are correct. Do please double check that you have all relevant documentation by reading through the W-7 instructions before setting out.

Nine weeks later – I received my ITIN!

About the author

(c) Sally Clements for writing.ie


Sally Clements is a writer living and writing in the Irish countryside, who has sold two romances to different publishers in 2010. The first, Catch Me A Catch, is a contemporary romance e-book available from The Wild Rose Press. It features an artisan chocolatier heroine, who is reluctantly forced to stand in for her matchmaker father for the duration of a matchmaking festival in the west of Ireland, and a transatlantic sailor in search of his roots, who she mistakes as a love seeking batchelor. Follow Sally’s blog Love and Chocolate here


Her second novel, Bound to Love, was launched by Embrace Books on 14th February 2011. Bound to Love is a romantic suspense story about a logic driven security expert who is forced to accept the help of an impulsive goldsmith, who follows her intuition, wherever it may lead. When Jake Forrester is involved in a complex plot to steal the Egyptian gold exhibit from the British Museum, he needs Tempest MacKenzie’s help to thwart the thieves, and in the process learns that sometimes relying on your gut instincts is the only way to go.

For talk about books, writing, and hero inspiration or to contact Sally, check out her blog, Love and Chocolate :www.sallyclements.blogspot.com

And for interviews with romance authors, industry gossip, book and film reviews, see her crit groups blog which is updated 3 times weekly, www.minxesofromance.blogspot.com

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