Friday, 6 September 2013

Amazon plays guess the IRS

... but only if you get US tax info right
American citizens may be delighted to hear that they aren't the only ones who suffer at the hands of the IRS. If you are a foreigner who earns money in the US (for example, an author with a US publisher), you need to be registered with the IRS, which in my case involved having to take a form to the US Embassy in London with my passport and generally mess about to get a magic number called an ITIN.

So far, so good. Generally speaking, when I deal with a publisher I just give them my ITIN and it all works, but I have just spent a very silly time playing games with Amazon, because they don't make it so easy. To be able to publish Kindle ebooks, you have to fill in an online tax form. But here's the thing. Unless the details you fill in (about ten different items) exactly match the details they have from the IRS, it is rejected. But they don't tell you what you got wrong.

Now I have various bits of documentation from the IRS, all with subtly different variants of the information. So the guessing game starts. It took me three tries to guess the information that the online system wanted me to give.

Arrggh. Sound of hair being torn out.

You'd think Amazon wasn't a global company, like they keep claiming to be when they are avoiding tax. I'm sure a true global company would manage to handle tax in your own country.

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