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Completing the US W8 tax form
Thread poster: Josephine Cassar

Josephine Cassar  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:40
Member (2012)
Italian to English
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Aug 1, 2013

Hi all, I would like to ask you if it is common practice to receive a document which you have to sign- wish companies can make these documents simpler- about not being US resident/dependent, so you do not pay tax, or are entitled to any benefits etc. Other big agencies from other countries never sent me such contracts- I understand the need to sign a confidentiality agreement- but is the other type of contract common to US law? Also, no rate has been mentioned, so I do not yet know the rate this company is going to accept from me or allow me to suggest? Why should I give my details to the company and the country, for that matter, if we have not yet agreed on rates, conditions, etc?
I welcome your feedback.
Thanks


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:40
Member (2007)
English
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W8-BEN? Aug 1, 2013

Is that the form you're talking about, Josephine?

I don't think it should be signed until things are agreed between you, but it's in your own interests to sign it. Otherwise, the company will have to withhold quite a large percentage as US tax. I suppose you could theoretically demand it back from the IRS over there, but I wouldn't fancy your chances.

It's horrible wording, I agree, but it's an IRS form that the company has no control over. Filling it in, in my case at least, is actually quite simple. I explained mine just a while ago on the forum. I'll try to find it if necessary.


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Josephine Cassar  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:40
Member (2012)
Italian to English
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TOPIC STARTER
Form Aug 1, 2013

I don't know exactly- I'll have to look for the email to tell you. Thank you so much for taking the trouble to answer my post. I will see and report back. They ask a lot of details-name, surname, country, etc. Is it only companies in the US that send this? They know my rate but I think I had better clarify that they accept my rate before filling up details. It is a big company and has many branches but this is in US so maybe wants to tell the government they are not withholding tax for me as I am not US citizen, but is so long that it becomes confusing and I hate those long contracts- the confidentiality contract was ok and I could understand and found no problem signing, but I do not know what type of texts they will send me either. One of their PMs sent me an email today asking me to sign the confidentiality only as he needed an urgent text to be translated but did not take into account the time factor, and there was no way I could commit to doing the translation for him by the time I opened my mail, which I do after my cuppa. will get back to you with the form, thanks

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Josephine Cassar  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:40
Member (2012)
Italian to English
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W-8BEN Aug 1, 2013

Yes, that's the one. So it means that every US company has to send this form and get it signed as otherwise it will have to deduct taxes from what it will pay me. Will it also notify my country? I could not find your post, so would appreciate it if you could post it here or a link. sometimes it is really difficult finding posts in relation to topics you want information about. I was looking for Tag editor today, but could not find reliable information. Thank you Sheila

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:40
Member (2007)
English
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Goodness, I post too often! Aug 1, 2013

Found it at last, though: http://www.proz.com/forum/money_matters/252337-us_w8_form_for_uk_resident.html

I think it's only if they're expecting to pay you more than a certain sum within a 12-month period but I don't know exactly - I was working on a long-term project which netted four-figure dollars. It doesn't have any impact on your own country's authorities - you'll be notifying them yourself of your tax liability.


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Josephine Cassar  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:40
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Link Aug 1, 2013

Thank you, your post was very informative, thank you. You never pay attention to some posts till they hit you. Your links were very informative, tkx a lot

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Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 02:40
Member
Chinese to English
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US tax forms Aug 1, 2013

I still dream about those and wake up screaming at night.

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Josephine Cassar  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:40
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Wake up screaming Aug 1, 2013

Why Lincoln please?

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Noura Tawil  Identity Verified
Syria
Local time: 20:40
Member (2013)
English to Arabic
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It's OK Aug 1, 2013

It's nothing really, Josephine. As others explained here, it's for your own interest to sign it even before reaching a final agreement with the agency.
I just signed the exact same form a few days ago. I was so confused about how to fill it, but the agency gave me simple instructions, I also found a youtube video explaining how to fill it exactly the way the agency had instructed me. Turned out you don't have to fill every field.

Here's a link to the Youtube video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GbqTX_zquaA


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Josephine Cassar  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:40
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Italian to English
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You-Tube link Aug 2, 2013

Thank you, Noura, it was so simple; you do not have to fill every field. I get worried about filling up such forms as I get the idea I am giving away info to aliens.
@ Sheila- you post too often, you say, but your posts are full of the experience you have and share with others, especially "beginners" in the industry, or field or whatever. Keep it up, as you get to the point, are not wordy, so it easy to follow you. Thank you so much.


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Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 02:40
Member
Chinese to English
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W-2 and friends Aug 2, 2013

Josephine Cassar wrote:

Why Lincoln please?

The ones I had to fill out were not W-8s, but the yearly federal, state and local tax returns that I had to fill out each year while I was a student, and this is regardless of whether you had an income or not (if you had no income you filled out an alien reporting form). It was an even bigger headache for me than for locals since I was never completely sure what my residency status was with regards to tax payment.

(The residency thing, by the way, also comes up whenever I filled out paperwork for a new job and nobody knows exactly how it works, not the employer, not the international services of the school, and I'm not sure the IRS knows either.)

Add to that the fact that US tax return deadlines are usually in April with final projects and exams just around the corner and you can imagine that it was great fun. You can fill it out earlier, of course, but the window is limited because you need the W-2 from the employer. Also, since my address always changed in May, I had no idea when and whether I would actually receive my tax returns. I'm pretty sure I've actually lost checks this way.

I'm sure that I could have been arrested for some form of tax fraud if the IRS and US immigration ever bothered to check, but I doubt they would since all I ever did was to give up my tax returns.

None of this has any relevance to what you are doing, of course, but I always start sweating profusely whenever I see anything that vaguely resembles a US tax form.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:40
Member (2007)
English
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Glad you're sorted, Josephine Aug 2, 2013

These forms are very imposing and your agency should really have sent it with instructions on how to complete it, as mine did. Just sending it without any guidance is not the mark of a supportive agency, in my opinion.

You-tube is a strange place, like so many other areas of the internet. You can waste hours watching total drivel if you want, but hidden in there are little nuggets of gold! I haven't watched this particular video, but it's certainly a sound way of giving guidance. I think everyone could do with some help with tax forms, even my Spanish accountant.


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John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 13:40
Member (2008)
French to English
W8-BEN Aug 2, 2013

This is actually a very simple form, although it looks imposing because it has a lot of fine print, has incomprehensible terms such as "beneficial owner", etc., and is used for a number of different purposes. It is not sent in to the US government so no one needs to worry about that. It is merely kept on file to protect the client in case of a tax audit (of the client, not the service provider) so that the client's accountant can prove that there was no need to withhold income tax from the recipient of the payment. If the client doesn't have a W8-BEN on hand at the time of the audit it may be required to pay the IRS the amount it should have withheld. I keep one signed and ready in a folder on my computer and when a client asks for one I just sent that, no need to fill out a new one.

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Josephine Cassar  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:40
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Italian to English
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Thank you all Aug 2, 2013

Thank you all. You have been very supportive. The video was very good. Now I understand the purpose, thanks to you, John Fossey. You have put my mind at rest especially with the latest wiki scare. The company keeps it to have something to show why it is not deducting any tax from me, then-that's all, nothing to do with keeping tabs on people or intra-country agreements.The video shows how easy it is to fill; the company sent instructions but still, I found the form confusing, but after watching the video, everything fell into place. Thanks again

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Noura Tawil  Identity Verified
Syria
Local time: 20:40
Member (2013)
English to Arabic
+ ...
You're welcome Aug 2, 2013

Josephine Cassar wrote:

Thank you all. You have been very supportive. The video was very good. Now I understand the purpose, thanks to you, John Fossey. You have put my mind at rest especially with the latest wiki scare. The company keeps it to have something to show why it is not deducting any tax from me, then-that's all, nothing to do with keeping tabs on people or intra-country agreements.The video shows how easy it is to fill; the company sent instructions but still, I found the form confusing, but after watching the video, everything fell into place. Thanks again


Glad we could help you. And good luck in your collaboration with the agency.


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