Tax headaches

There is probably nothing to make a group of writers disperse more quickly than by raising the subject of business and—gasp—tax.

The cliché goes that there is nothing certain except death and taxes, and so it is certain that as soon as a writer starts earning money, there will be a tax bill.

Worse, if you don’t live in the US and you’re selling books through Amazon or similar, that time will come sooner rather than later.

Because when you set up an Amazon account as seller, it asks for a mysterious thing called a social security number, or something called an ITIN. When you can’t provide this, every payment from Amazon will deduct tax.


After looking into the subject for a bit, I’ve decided that this sounds a whole lot worse than it is.

First of all, you can claim it back, or you can claim a tax offset against the tax you’ve already paid. In Australia, you would do that through this link. If you are elsewhere, it is likely that your local tax office provides similar advice.

Otherwise, it is possible for a non-US citizen to obtain an ITIN number. My writing friend Shayne Parkinson has written a six-page instruction on how to do this. Shayne lives in New Zealand, but the process would be similar in other countries. It can be quite expensive. I needed a notary public in December and was charged $100 for the service.

It’s my guess it’s only worth it if you make a lot of money (so you pay tax later) or if your country doesn’t recognise tax already paid in the US.

I will probably revisit this subject later.

If you appreciate Shayne’s information, please visit her Smashwords page here. Shayne writes historical fiction set in New Zealand and I recommend that you check out her work.