UK authors published in the US - is a FW7 necessary?

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Earthling

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My US publisher sent me a W8-BEN form, which I completed and sent back to them. My advance was paid in full with no taxes taken.

I haven't filled out a FW7, mostly because of the inconvenience of going to the US embassy in person. But I heard from another international author that some people haven't needed to get an ITIN and just providing their native tax identifier (National Insurance number, for us?) is enough. Does anybody have recent experience with this?

If I get my first royalty statement and no taxes have been taken, can I assume the W8-BEN has been successful or could I still be in trouble with the IRS? I don't even know which authority to ask to check if I've done what I need to do. The US embassy?

I know I sound hopelessly naive. I really have tried to understand all this but it flies wayyy over my head.
 

CameronJohnston

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I was also told that the NI number is fine by my US-based agency - no need for an ITIN, since it won't matter because you are not resident in the US and paying them any taxes (as declared on part 10 of the W-8BEN form).
 

PeteMC

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Eh, this varies by agent / publisher. My (US) agent insisted I get an ITIN for the W-8BEN, others seem to be happy to take your NI number.

Don't forget this is to cover *their* arse with the IRS for not withholding US tax on your payments, which they would otherwise be obliged to do, so its their call whether they think your NI number is good enough or not. This IRS site itself is deeply unhelpful on the subject.
 

Earthling

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Thanks both.

Pete, that's a weight off my mind because I assumed it would be my responsibility if I got this wrong.
 

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