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I am a resident from Australia and I have no ties (work or personal) to the USA.  I would like to publish my books on Amazon KDP, Createspace, Smashwords, etc. and complete my tax interview. But the form requires me to provide a US tax ID. Is this really required?  Please advice, thanks!

Maybe not!  On Form W-8 BEN, you may submit your non-US tax identification number if there’s a tax treaty with your country. For Australia, use your TFN (Tax File Number) and claim a reduced tax withholding rate for royalties – per the US/Australia tax treaty.  Also the tax interview on Amazon KDP, Createspace, etc will complete Form W-8 BEN for you.

Amazon and Smashwords are required by law to withhold 30% of the royalties earned by non-US authors unless there’s a US tax treaty in place for reduced withholding rates.  Australia is one of those countries and the Royalties withholding rate is 5%.

If you do not have a tax file number for some reason, you will have to get an ITIN or EIN.

Sometimes an ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) is required for withholding after you’ve reached a certain threshold of sales.  The ITIN is often confused with a SSN because it is exactly the same format, but it begins with a ‘9’.

If you’ve had withholding at 30%, you’ll want to file a US tax return to claim any refund owing.  You’ll require an ITIN to complete Form 1040NR.  This form can be obtained from the IRS Forms & Publications page.

All this US tax stuff is confusing and could cause your mine to turn to soup.  If that’s the case, please get in touch.