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Affiliate US Tax Guide for Non-US Affiliate Advitisers
When signing up to be an affiliate marketer, one of the hardest things to figure out is the U.S Tax System. For non-US affiliate marketers it is even more tricky to figure out what exactly needs to be done to ensure that you get paid. The main reason why we all became affiliate marketers after all, is to make some money and use that money to go on a nice vacation. I will help you understand what form to submit and help shed some light on the U.S. Tax System for us foreigners.
Am I a non-US Affiliate?
The 3 factors that make you a non-US affiliate are:
1. not a U.S. citizen
2. do not reside in the U.S.
3. do not own or operate any equipment or employees in the U.S.
Number 3 is usually the trickiest, especially for webmasters and bloggers, so I will explain it a little further to help clear up that "grey area." If you are an affiliate marketer that lives and works from your computer in another country then you are a foreigner and a non-US affiliate.
Now if you are like me and have websites or blogs on U.S. web hosting servers, are you still considered a non-US affiliate?
Well the answer is yes, because you don't own the server and you don't own any of the equipment needed to host your website. Unless you have specifically bought a U.S. server that is located in the United States then you are considered a non-US affiliate. To help better understand this lets take a look at a quote from Google's Tax Information Page.
"Generally, utilizing an unrelated third-party U.S. web hosting service to host your web pages, renting web servers that are located in the U.S. from an unrelated third party, or having your payment sent to a U.S. Post Office Box or mail forwarding address, do not of themselves constitute U.S. Activities."
After understanding what type of affiliate marketer you are, you then need to know which form to fill out and send in.
Selecting the Right U.S. Tax Form
For some affiliate programs they just ask you questions and don't require you to submit any U.S tax forms. However, there are some out there like Commission Junction that require you to submit a form. For non-US affiliates there are two common choices:
1. A certification of no United States activities
2. A W-8BEN certificate of foreign status of beneficial owner for United States tax withholding
Now for most of us the form to select is going to be number 1 a certification of no United States activities. This is the form that you choose when you have no ties to the U.S. and fall into the 3 categories of a non-US affiliate.
The only time you would submit a W-8BEN is if you do have employees or equipment in the United States, for example if you own and operate a hosting server in the U.S.