Tax problems on the way to being solved!

The internet is a wonderful thing.

Writers are generous and supportive of each other!

My last post garnered a response from a very kind complete stranger (Martyn V Halm) who gave me a link to this article:

It seems I’m not the only one suffering angst over these issues and other people have bravely gone before, tested the system and posted about their experiences so that the rest of us can de-stress! There is a method of obtaining a tax number, via a phone call to the IRS people, which can then be used for all e-publishing firms. Whoever worked it out and tested it deserves a medal!

If you’re at all interested in the tax problem, on your own behalf or for anyone else, go and read the article and the numerous comments which extend the initial research.

I think the thing I need now is Skype. I did have it installed on my old PC but then my microphone broke and as I wasn’t really chatting to many people I never bothered to replace it. I could do with a new headset and will buy one of the combined headset/microphone things but that might have to wait till I get back from our next trip to Portugal so that I can order the kind I want and have some chance of being here when it arrives. Skype will prevent the cost of phone calls to America becoming as astronomical as any notary expenses…

Once I can call cheaply I shall follow all the instructions given in the article and let you (and the authors) know how I get on. That will probably be some time in October.

Meanwhile, I’m extraordinarily grateful to Martyn, a Netherlands based author who has taken the time to reassure me and point me in the right direction. His WordPress blog is if anyone wants to have a look at what he writes – sounds interesting.

8 thoughts on “Tax problems on the way to being solved!

  1. Hi Jay,

    I can’t take any credit for solving the tax problem – that goes entirely to David and Catherine in the link you posted.
    I can tell you what steps I took. First of all, I realised that Dutch names and addresses would sound alien to a US civil servant, so I wrote out all the information I needed to give in NATO spelling, i.e.

    Applying for an EIN for a foreign entity

    For compliance with witholding



    I kept the article by Catherine on the page while I called, so I knew the appropriate responses. By keeping all this information written in front of my during my telephone call, I was more confident and less likely to misspell my information.

    As soon as I received my EIN I sent the W8BEN to Amazon’s accounting department and I received a polite email some time later that my W8BEN was validated and that in compliance with the tax treaty with the Netherlands they wouldn’t withhold any taxes.

    By giving you and others this information, I’m mere paying forward the kindness of David and Catherine. I do appreciate you mentioning my blog and books – I have a short story available for free download this weekend only, and my novel Reprobate just came out, so I can use any promotion. I hope you manage to get an EIN as easily as I did.

    Good luck with your writing and publishing endeavours.
    Martyn V. Halm
    Author of the Amsterdam Assassin Series.

    • You most certainly *can* take credit! Whilst I have recently been following David’s blog, I wouldn’t have known about the tax solution if you hadn’t taken the time to tell me about it!! I hope a couple of my readers will check you out!!

      I haven’t actually published on Kindle yet because without the EIN it isn’t possible to create an account – I don’t know if this is a recent thing.

      I don’t want to create a company – this is quite a lot of hassle in UK. But some of the comments to David’s post suggest that if you say you are a sole trader publishing for yourself this is satisfactory.

      As I’m English I probably won’t have any problems spelling out my name etc. and as I’ve said today, my main focus now is to set up Skype so that I don’t have astronomical phone bills.

      Good luck to you, too! I shall download your freebie and eventually read it and review it here.

      • Far as I know, you don’t need the EIN to publish on Amazon, but Amazon will withhold 30% of your royalties for the IRS, and it will be a PITA to get it back.
        Enjoy Locked Room – A Katla KillFile. The short story also contains a teaser chapter for the novel Reprobate. Also, since Reprobate is a fairly large novel [113,000 words], the free sample is actually almost four chapters long…

      • Well, I tried to register an account with KDP and although I have an Amazon account for purchases, it gave me an online form to fill in and without an ITIN or EIN would not let me register… I have no idea whether this is a new thing on their part but anyway, without the EIN I can’t go any further! Smashwords operate in the way you describe, withholding royalties but allowing you to go ahead and publish.

      • I’ve been a loyal Amazon Customer for years before I started to publish through KDP, but my first publication was August 11, 2012, so that’s pretty recent. I did get my EIN before I published, but I didn’t file the EIN through a W8BEN before I published Locked Room, because I needed my Publisher Identification Number [lower right in account settings] before I could fill out the W8BEN. So they must have changed it pretty recently…

      • My first attempt to register was last week. It did seem like a Catch22 situation so I contacted them and to be fair they sent me a downloadable letter to print out to use to get the forms filled in. At that point I still thought I’d have to use the notary certification route… Smashwords said they would’t send a letter till I had earned $10 and of course I thought I needed a letter from them as well as Amazon so as you can imagine I felt pretty trapped by the whole thing! But Amazon definitely require the EIN before registration – whether that’s just for UK at present I don’t know. They must have got tired of all the hassle of people with no EIN/ITIN!! And I suspect they don’t understand the problems the way David and Catherine do, because they’re a US firm so they don’t see how Europeans interact or don’t) with US law. Yes, they have offshoots like all the others but basically they function in US terms.

      • Well, Amazon does make some strange decisions. So is my 99c story 3.44$ outside the US and my 3.99$ novel is 6.89$ outside the US. However, when I make my story 0.00$, they don’t add the surcharge and tax they add on my paid books. Alas, I have to buy e-books from, I can’t buy from or

      • I can buy from the UK site even when I’m in Portugal (which is frequently) – presumably they recognise my original account wherever I am. So far…. I believe you can create some kind of proxy account in either US or UK but I don’t know the details on how to.

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