Received a W-8 form from a US agency
Thread poster: Anne Seerup

Anne Seerup
Local time: 07:39
English to Danish
+ ...
Jul 29, 2004

I have just received this W-8 form from an U.S. agency, where I have to certify my foreign status, otherwise they will deduct U.S. tax from the amount (total of 50 USD). It seems rather ridiculous and I have worked with many agencies based in the U.S, and no one has ever asked me to sign such a form before.
I just cannot see that this has anything to do with me, since I am a foreign business providing a service, would they also ask other providers of physical goods to sign such a form?

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2004-07-29 10:21]


Edward Potter  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:39
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Tax in the U.S. Jul 29, 2004

This form is only for U.S. citizens.

I would just tell the client that you are not a U.S. citizen and do not need to fill this form out, and to please send the money.

In any case, I am not a C.P.A. so if you really must, talk to a professional tax preparer.


Henry Dotterer
Local time: 02:39
Try Jul 29, 2004

Edward, you may be thinking of W-9, which is only for US persons. W-8 is for non-US persons. I am not an accountant, either, but there is searchable information at


Gillian Searl  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:39
Member (2004)
German to English
You know, I was going to ask the same thing: Jul 29, 2004

I just got this yesterday:

Dear Vendor:

We recently became aware that we do not have a current Form W-8BEN or W-9 on file for you. US tax regulations require that we have one of the following forms on file for each vendor and that we update these forms every three years:

1. Form W-8 BEN (if you are a non-U.S. taxpayer).
2. Form W-9 (if you are a U.S. taxpayer).

We are attaching each form with instructions. Please fill in and sign the applicable form and return it to us as soon as possible via mail,

What is all that about???


Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:39
German to English
+ ...
Exemption from US tax? Jul 29, 2004

I believe the W-8 form is to verify that you are not subject to US tax. US citizens are taxed by the US anywhere in the world we live on income we earn there; that's probably why the agency needs to have a form on file for everyone they work with

...but I'm not an accountant either!icon_smile.gif


Rosa Maria Duenas Rios (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:39
W8 to ascertain that you are neither US citizen nor US resident Jul 29, 2004

I completed a few when I was living in Mexico, and was working for US clients (I am not a US citizen either). I believe the forms are just for the company's records and should pose no problem, but I'm not an accountant either. The best thing to do is to check the IRS page!


Birgir Davidsson
Local time: 07:39
English to Icelandic
Sending one today... Jul 29, 2004

I´m actually sending a W8 form to the US today so I can start working for a US based translation office. Apparently they can´t send me any work until they get this signed from me.


Denyce Seow  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:39
Member (2004)
Chinese to English
I had that too.... Jul 29, 2004

My U.S. client requested for that once. Like what the other translators have said, it seems that this form is for non U.S. citizens.


Anne Seerup
Local time: 07:39
English to Danish
+ ...
It is still a bit strange Jul 29, 2004

But is it actually a legal requirement to fill in this form - since most companies don't ask for it.
I have had a look at the revenue site and I must admit, it did not make that much sense to me. It only seems relevant if one is somehow employed with the company on a contract basis where the "employer" sorts out the tax prior to paying the wages.

But I am another business supplying a service or a good, therefore I would be required to sort out my own tax and would obviously not be liable for U.S. tax in any way.
I cannot see how my status would differ from that of a foreign based agency, just because I am a small business. Or would they also ask other agencies to sign the same form?
Or what if a U.S. business buys some form of good or equipment from at foreign based supplier - would the form also be required here?


Elías Sauza  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:39
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
W-8 BEN Jul 30, 2004

Day by day more US agencies are asking to fill out form W-8BEN. If your country has a tax agreement with the United States, you must fill out this form to avoid double taxation (both in the USA and in your country). Please read below:


The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) mandates: If a foreign vendor refuses to provide an American company with proper documentation, this company must withhold 31% of the amount to be settled and submit the withheld amount to the U.S. Federal Treasury. Failure to do is a violation of U.S. Tax Law. If
the company fails to follow these rules it could be held liable for tax, penalties, and interest on such failure to file and withhold.


Use Form W-8 enable employers to proof to the IRS that you are a nonresident alien individual, foreign entity, or exempt foreign person not subject to certain U.S. information return reporting or backup withholding rules.

[Edited at 2004-07-30 02:29]


Vladimir Dubisskiy  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:39
Member (2001)
English to Russian
+ ...
got the same, so what? Jul 30, 2004

Dear Anne,
I live in Canada and when working for US agencies sometimes I am to fill up the W8 as well. So what? it's less than a minute 'work'...


Anne Seerup
Local time: 07:39
English to Danish
+ ...
Thank you Jul 30, 2004

I guess I have to fill in the form, I am always a bit reluctant in giving out personal information, especially when the purpose is not clear.
Really this client should have asked me to sign the form when they assigned the project to me or when they received my invoice instead of waiting until payment is overdue..
...and these days it is actually it is a bit of a hassle sending any signed forms, as my fax has broken down after just one years duty, but that is a different story.icon_frown.gif

Anyway thanks for all your responses.:-)



Marc P (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:39
German to English
+ ...
W-8 form Jul 30, 2004


I think your concerns are very valid, and I would be very cautious about filling in this form.

I can understand that the US tax authorities have an interest in determining whether you fall under their jurisdiction, as would be the case if you were resident in the US or were a US national, and might well be the case if you were neither but were an employee of a US business located outside the US, or were conducting work temporarily in the US without actually being a resident there (e.g. a temporary interpreting assignment).

I presume though that you are a Danish national conducting business in Ireland and that your work is performed in Ireland and therefore constitutes an export. As such, none of the above therefore applies. It might be tempting to take the pragmatic approach and to fill in the form in order to prove that, but by doing so you are implicitly conceding that the US tax authorities *are* authorized to make judgements on your tax status. Before making such concessions, I would want some hard evidence of the IRS' justification in taking an interest in your tax affairs. "Federal regulations" doesn't cut it: US law doesn't apply outside the US to non-US citizens, despite what some people think. If in doubt, ask the *Irish* tax authorities for advice.



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Received a W-8 form from a US agency

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