UK Based Authors Tax Consideration

I have spent the past few days registering with various market places for the forthcoming release of my debut novel, which will be published in paperback, eBook and Audiobook formats. (And hopefully, hardback!)

All of the US-based markets require you to establish your tax status and you do this via form W-8 BEN, details of which can be seen here:

About Form W-8 BEN, Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding and Reporting (Individuals) | Internal Revenue Service (irs.gov)

This is a strict, legal requirement and there’s no getting around it, or else the respective market host will subtract tax at the local rate.

Thankfully, the registration process takes you through the filling of the form via a digital interview, where you are asked about a dozen (simple) questions, to identify who you are and your tax status in, say, the UK.

BUT – and a very large BUT!!! You need to already have your UTR (Unique Tax Reference) from HMRC. This is a 10-digit, numeric identifier.

This is not your tax code, e.g. 1257L or your National Insurance No. (NI) e.g. LL112233B (Not a real NI No but just an example of what it looks like).

The UTR is obtained via HMRC’s Self Assessment website:

Register for Self Assessment – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Some say you don’t need to do this, but I’d suggest there is no harm in obtaining your UTR as a Sole Proprietor.

Also note: you do no need to register as a Limited Company in the UK to sell books. You also don’t need to register your imprint with HMRC or Companies House. Doing so raises a whole load of pain with regards to filing for corporation tax and quarterly VAT returns, all of which could be zero-amounted or small amounts, and a whole lot of headache for nothing.

I hope this helps someone out there in Self-Publishing land.

Author: Emae Church

Author from the United Kingdom. My first novel is YA, but I am currently working on an MG and Adult novel, for a future release.

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