…a bit more about how to operate on wordpress. That’s one thing I’m glad about. Secondly, I understand certain things that have been mystifying me about self-publishing. I wondered why so many authors have written books on ‘How to self-publish.’ It’s such a laborious process and each step achieved along the way such a feather in the cap that you need to share with others. So, I’ll probably be doing the same. Here’s what I’ve done so far to get the American tax situation sorted out.
I’ve downloaded forms W-8BEN and W-7 from an IRS (American tax) website and letter ‘On-Demand Publishing LLC’ from CreateSpace.
W-7 is an application for an ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number). On this form, I first ticked boxes ‘a’ and ‘h’ and added comments after ‘h’ to explain why I want an ITIN, ‘Exception 1(d) – Royalty Income’, referring to the letter ‘On-Demand Publishing LLC.’ In addition, I trawled through pages of explanation from the IRS in order to find the ‘treaty article number.’ You see, there is a treaty between the UK and the USA which exempts the British from paying tax on their American sales, which without this paperwork would be 30% of your royalties. The treaty has several ‘articles’, each with an accompanying number and, as far as I can tell, this number is ’12’ for British authors not residing in the US. I can’t work out where 12 comes from but I’ve read other blog posts on the topic and it’s what they all say. Residence and identity, of course, has to be proved and the easiest way to do both is with a passport. According to the IRS website, the passport can be taken to an American embassy, where it can be notarised and apostiled. Now, I’d heard of the first. In fact, I once had to have all my educational certificates notarised for a job in the Gulf. Apostiled is a new one on me.
This morning, I duly trotted off to the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square to be notarised and apostiled – or so I hoped. I got in the queue outside the door before it opened. It’s very cold in London today! Literally, over half of the queue was turned away because they had not read that mobile phones are not allowed in the embassy. I had, so that was one hurdle cleared. I found the right office and took my place in that queue with my little ticket. I waited an hour and a half and eventually got seen. So far, so good. As I was handing over my passport, I was told that the process would cost a total of $220 and that this had to be paid by cheque IN DOLLARS. I’ll leave you to imagine the effect of that information on me but, anyway, I was soon out in the cold again after a wasted morning.
Not having my phone, I called Directory Inquiries from a phone box (imagine how far I had to schlep to find one of those!) and got a lawyer who was authorised to notarise and apostile and he could see me today. Great. I trotted along to his office in Hackney where he photocopied my passport and charged me £50 for the notarisation, £50 for the administration of the apostil….is….i…sation. He’d already told me on the phone that this would have to be paid in cash. Then he said that the photocopy would have to be sent to the Foreign Office and that this would cost a further £30. He trusted me for that, fortunately, because a ton was all I had on me.
Now I understand why some authors don’t bother: they just pay the 30% tax. I’ve only written one book. I’ll have to sell quite a few just to recoup today’s outlay. The lawyer couldn’t tell me how long it would take and this is only the first stage in getting the tax clearance. I’ve heard two months in all. A real disappointment: I was hoping to get the book on a few Christmas prezzie lists. No chance. Maybe next Christmas.
Update: scroll back up again and eyes right to the blogroll list for an ITIN success story which, no doubt I should have read before I traipsed off to the embassy.