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Anyone know how to obtain and fill out a W8 form?


#1

I have lots of US customers, but this is the first that has requested a W8 form. I’ve been doing a bit of Googling, but the IRS documents are very confusing.


#2

Getting requests for a W-8BEN form is very common with US customers as they are required to have this form available for certain transactions (purchasing software licenses is one of them and you might also need such a document for your bank if you receive interest payments from US stocks and similar).

You would use the W-8BEN form to claim benefits under a mutual treaty your country has signed with the US regarding the taxation of licenses, interests and similar. US customers would need to withhold taxes for transactions without such a form otherwise I believe. You can download the W-8BEN form here for example:

http://www.sup.org/authors/docs/W8BEN.pdf

I believe there’s also a new version for individuals if you are not incorporated:

The exact details and benefits you can claim depend on the kind of treaty your country has signed with the US. I assume most countries would have a treaty in place so that customers don’t have to withhold any taxes but I would recommend contacting your accountant as he/she should know this in detail.


#3

IS it for the W8Ben form? The best resource I have found is this:

http://catherineryanhoward.com/2012/02/24/non-us-self-publisher-tax-issues-dont-need-to-be-taxing/

It is focused mainly for self published authors, so not sure how it would work for you. But I followed the instructions, and got my EIN in 10 minutes. Once you have that, filling the W8ben form is easy, though you do have to post it(snail mail) in most cases.


#4

I filled out my W8BEN without an EIN and it hasn’t been a problem so far.

I was strongly advised by another UK based mISV not to get an EIN (IRS employer identification number) if you are outside the US, because you may then have to start dealing with the US tax system (shudder).


#5

I would also highly recommend contacting your accountant before registering for an EIN as this might have many implications.


#6

Awesome guys, thanks! I’ve contacted my accountant to point me to the correct form and decide whether to register an EIN or not. I’ll let you know what we end up with.


#7

Hi Brad (and nice to meet you a Microconf).

Requesting an EIN is very simple (I did it from Italy) and got it on the phone and it will make it easier when working with corporations in the US.
You can check things here:

http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Apply-for-an-Employer-Identification-Number-(EIN)-Online

If you want to check my W8-BEN as a sample, I can mail it to you.


#8

Neither of my accountants were familiar with the form, so I just did my best to fill it out myself. If there are any issues, I’m sure the customer or the IRS will let me know.