Being a writer is never easy – or – what is going on with KDP accounts department?
Ok, so we all know that being a writer is never easy. Around working full time I write; both for the personal pleasure of writing; and with my tarot books the pleasure of sharing my knowledge with other people. Like so many other writers these days I Indie Publish. That’s all well and dandy, but as many of you are aware Indie Publishing entails a lot of hard work. First off, creating the written work. Next, formatting the book and designing a cover. Lastly, working on publicity. It’s a tough old trek but it needs to be done.
I sense many of you nodding in agreement, sighing and applauding, because you too Indie Publish, so you completely understand the hard work involved.
Again, this is the path we take, and this is what we expect in order to achieve some modicum of success. We don’t necessarily expect to make millions, but, as with every work project in life…it is nice to get paid.
I live in the UK, so the payment problem all people Indie Publishing in the UK encounter is the IRS. Yep, the tax man. Only the IRS is the US tax man, not the UK tax man. In order not to fall fowl of the IRS one has to go and get an ITIN, an International Taxpayer Identification Number. In order to obtain one of these I had to fill out a W-7 form and go to a notary and pay to have him stamp the document and legally state who I am. I first obtained my ITIN back in 2007.
So, now I have my ITIN, my most important magic number.
The next step is to fill out the form W-8BEN for each company I publish with in the US, which is a legal declaration stating that I do not reside in the US; and for this document they need to know my ITIN. This is brilliant, and means that now that the company has my W-8BEN on file they do not have to withhold tax in the US and I can pay tax in my own country. Yippee!
Not so fast. This is all well and good until the company I Indie Publish with loses it!
First Lulu had a shuffle around with their website and I received an email stating that they would be withholding tax. Hang on guys. I sent you my completed W-8BEN back in 2007 and you haven’t been withholding tax since then, so why now? Okay, so you can’t find it on record. So why haven’t you been withholding tax? It’s no good, you cannot argue with the IRS, you just have to swallow it down and fill the form out again. Sorted.
Next Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, KDP, took a turn in flagging up a lack of W-8BEN. They emailed me. I emailed back stating that up until this point they hadn’t been withholding tax because I’d sent in my W-8BEN a few years back. Tough, you can’t argue with the IRS; if Amazon KDP accounts department say they don’t have it, then you just have to fill out another one and send it off to the US. I did what they wanted. After a few weeks I received an email saying I hadn’t ticked a box. For goodness sake, it’s only a box repeating the same stuff that I’d already said! Just tick it. No, we are acting on behalf of the IRS and we cannot do that, please fill out a completed W-8BEN. I swallowed down ever harder. I sent a new one off.
A few weeks later I received a confirmation email that they had received my completed W-8BEN and that it was in order, and that they would stop withholding tax. Terrific!
Now, if you also happen to publish through KDP you’ll note how difficult it is track your sales against when you get paid as the payments are all in arrears. Checking it all through is like walking in treacle. Okay, so I continued to receive payments, but I didn’t receive any lump sum as a payment for the withheld tax. I tried to put my clever mathematician’s hat on, but, like I said, I work and sometimes I just don’t feel like doing complicated sums at the end of a busy day.
I have an email on file confirming their receipt of the dreaded W-8BEN so you can imagine my horror this morning when I went across to KDP to check on sales only to have a giant red mark against my account saying, “If you do not fill out your tax form immediately your account will be closed and you will be banned from publishing with KDP,” or words to that effect. Shock! I nearly choked on my morning cuppa!
I clicked the link and KDP walked me through a series of questions that began to sound very familiar. Do I reside in the US? Do I own any business in the US? Do I have an ITIN? Would I give permission to electronically sign my document? Okay, okay, I agree, sign whatever this is for me. Right at the end my heart sank. The completed form was the now hated W-8BEN. Unbelievable!!!
This isn’t an IRS issue, this is an Amazon issue. Their accounts department obviously don’t know who is doing what. I send it in and one department records it. The next team of people can’t locate it. I send in a new one, they file it…but they obviously didn’t process it against my account. It’s not that you can’t argue with the IRS, it’s that you can’t argue with Amazon.
Being a writer is never easy, especially when publishing with KDP. Not only do you have the writing, formatting, cover and publicity to deal with, you also have Amazon’s inept accounts department taking up your time by making you fill out and send in the same form over, and over, again…before you can get paid in full.
Paperback via Lulu (possibly best price)
Also on Nook and other platforms
The System of Symbols, a new way to look at tarot
Paperback via Lulu (possibly best price) Also on Nook and other platforms.