FAQ: Submit your US tax information to Google

Use this FAQ to understand which details you'll need to submit your US tax information to Google.

Withholding & reporting

Google has a regulatory responsibility under Chapter 3 of the US Internal Revenue Code to withhold tax and report where a non-US partner receives US source income. It also has obligations under Chapter 61 and Section 3406 of the US Internal Revenue Code to perform backup withholding where applicable.

The tax information submitted to Google is used to identify the correct rate of withholding on future payments made.

Chapter 3 US tax withholding

If you've been validly documented as a non-US business or individual, only the portion of your revenue earned from US users is subject to US withholding taxes and reporting. These are revenues (such as advertising views, transactions, subscriptions) that are generated from usage in the United States.

US partners should provide a valid US tax identification number to indicate exemption from US tax withholding (including under Chapter 3 of the US Internal Revenue Code).

The US withholding tax rate that applies is based on the tax documentation you’ve provided to Google.

If a valid tax form isn't provided, Google may apply backup withholding at 24% or chapter 3 withholding at 30% on applicable payments. This rate may only be reduced if you're a tax resident of a country/region that has an income treaty with the US and you provide a valid tax form with a valid treaty claim. You can find the finalized amount withheld in your monthly earnings report.

Backup withholding

In some cases, Google may be required to withhold 24% from payees on all eligible earnings, including:

  • If the tax information entered on your tax form is found to be incorrect or inaccurate, and you’re presumed to be a US person under the US tax withholding presumption rules.

If you've had earnings withheld from a payment, it's because our records indicated that you were subject to tax withholding at the time of payment.

If you don't believe that you're subject to tax withholding, update the tax information in your account.

FAQ

Get ready to fill out your tax forms

Why am I being asked to complete this form?

You're being asked to complete this form in order for Google to comply with its obligations under the United States ("US") Internal Revenue Code Sections 1441(Chapter 3) and 3406.

This form is used to identify the correct rate of withholding on applicable payments made to you, if withholding is applicable on future payments.

The Internal Revenue Service ("IRS") requires Google to refresh its non-US partners and vendors tax forms at the earlier of

  • Every 3 years or
  • If there has been a change in circumstances that would impact the validity of the form.

Google is updating its payees to confirm compliance with these IRS rules.

What if I'm not the right person to complete the form?
If you're not the right person to complete the required form, you can forward the email to the correct person within your organization to sign in. That person must have administrator access to the Google payments account. They can then use the information provided in the email to complete the form. Learn how to give administrator access to an account.
Why can't I fill out the tax form in my local language?

While the questions in the tax form are available in your Partner Center supported language, the fields in the tax form only support:

  • Uppercase or lowercase letters: a-z, A-Z
  • Numbers: 0-9
  • Hyphens: -
  • Ampersands: &
  • Spaces

If using an accented character, use the letter equivalent, such as n for ñ or a for á. The Internal Revenue Service (the United States tax authority) requires that tax information be reported in:

  • Uppercase or lowercase letters: a-z, A-Z
  • Numbers: 0-9
  • Hyphens: -
  • Ampersands: &
  • Spaces

Where possible, reference existing documentation that contains your name or address in letters like a Passport or a Driver's License.

How to select tax forms

What’s the difference between individual and non-individual accounts?
  • Individual account: Owned and operated by an individual, not a legal organization. Taxes are filed in the owner’s name on a personal tax return.
  • Non-individual account: A business account that's separate from its owner for tax purposes. Also called an "entity account."
How do I know which tax form to complete?

The appropriate tax form is automatically generated based on the answers you provide. If you have any doubts, consult your tax advisor.

  • A Form W-9 will be required from US persons, companies, partnerships, and so on.
  • Generally, a Form W-8BEN or Form W-8BEN-E is required from individuals and entities (respectively) outside of the US who are the beneficial owner of the income received. It may be used to claim a treaty benefit (in other words, a reduced rate of withholding).
  • A Form W-8ECI is used by persons claiming income received and is effectively connected with a US trade or business. A US TIN will be required for all payees that provide a Form W-8ECI.
  • A Form W-8IMY is required for certain intermediaries, partnerships and flow-through entities outside of the US. If this form is provided, Google may ask for additional documentation (for example, an allocation statement).
  • A Form W-8EXP is used by entities to establish non-US beneficial owner status and eligibility for a reduced rate of tax withholding as a non-US government central bank, international organization, non-US tax exempt organization, non-US foreign private foundation or government of a US possession.

Addresses, ID verification, & limitations on benefits

What should I expect while I complete this process?

Below are some key points you should consider as you complete the process:

  • Don't use a PO Box or “In Care Of Address” as a permanent residence address: We found that some individuals and businesses provide a post office box or “in care of” address as their permanent residence address. If your permanent residence address is at a PO Box, in-care-of address, or a corporate services provider (such as a law firm or trust company), you may need to upload a copy of your articles of incorporation or other appropriate document showing that the address is your registered legal address.
  • Identity Verification: You may be required to verify your identity if one of the following situations applies:
    • Missing TIN or TIN not 9-digit numeric
    • TIN entered isn't currently issued
    • TIN and Name combination doesn't match IRS records
    • Invalid TIN matching request
  • US addresses require extra support: If you claim non-US person residency status and have a permanent or mailing address located in the United States, you need to supply additional information to support the fact that you're not a US person.
  • Limitations on benefits (entities only): Entities that claim treaty benefits must certify that they satisfy the limitation on benefits clause of the relevant tax treaty. To determine whether you qualify for tax treaty benefits, consult your applicable tax treaty or a professional tax advisor.

Tax identity

What are some key terms when it comes to tax identification?

Legal name

Put in your legal name exactly as it appears on your legal documents.

  • If you’re earning income as an Individual: Provide your legal name in the name field. You may have to provide a translated name as reflected in your legal documents (for example, your passport).
    • If you have a business that you want to associate with the form, include that in the DBA field. If your payment profile is under a business name, include that name in the DBA field.
  • If you’re earning income as an entity: The name of your entity needs to be in the name field. If your payment profile is under an individual name, include that name in the DBA field.

You may be asked to provide additional documentation to verify your legal name. Learn how to update your payment profile.

DBA name

A doing-business-as (DBA) name is a company name different from the owner’s name. Depending on the type of form you provide, you may also provide a person’s legal name.

Disregarded entity

A disregarded entity is a business entity that has a single owner, isn't a corporation under US tax law, and isn’t considered an entity separate from its owner for US federal income tax purposes.

Learn about disregarded entities from the IRS (the US tax authority).
What's a TIN (taxpayer identification number)?

A taxpayer identification number (TIN) is a tax processing number required by the IRS (the US tax authority) for all US tax forms. Non-US citizens may need an individual TIN (ITIN). If you are claiming a tax treaty benefit, you are required to provide either a Foreign TIN or a US TIN. Learn about TINs from the IRS.

Tip: Pages on the IRS website aren’t maintained or reviewed by Google and Google can't confirm the accuracy of the information presented. If you have further questions, you may want to seek professional tax advice.

To determine acceptable Tax Identification Numbers, reference your local tax authority or seek professional tax advice. Google can't provide tax advice.

Examples of Foreign TINs from around the globe may include (this list isn't exhaustive):

  • India: Permanent Account Number (PAN).
  • Indonesia: Nomor Pokok Wajib Pajak (NPWP).
  • Japan: Individual Number (nicknamed "My Number").
  • Russia: Taxpayer Personal Identification Number known as INN.
  • United Kingdom: Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR), National Insurance Number (NINO).

Reference your local tax authority or seek professional tax advice to determine acceptable Tax Identification Numbers. Google can't provide tax advice.

Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) verification process

Google periodically verifies publisher tax information with the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS). During these reviews, the IRS may notify us that the tax information in your account is inaccurate or out of date. In that case, we will place your payments on hold until you resubmit your tax information. This is a preventive step against legal action by the IRS.

Below are possible reasons why your tax information was reported as inaccurate or out of date:

  • Missing Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) or TIN not 9-digit numeric
  • TIN entered isn't currently issued
  • TIN and Name combination doesn't match IRS records
  • Invalid TIN Matching request
If your account is on hold for one of these reasons, resubmit your tax information to remove the hold. Your payments will remain on hold until you resubmit your tax information. For more information on TIN verification, search the IRS website.

Tax treaty benefits

My country/region and the United States have an income tax treaty. How can I ensure that the treaty details are applied?

If your country/region and the United States have an income tax treaty in place, then the tax tool in the Partner Center will identify the details of that during tax form submission.

You can find out if your country/region has a tax treaty with the US on the IRS website.

This is an IRS website and isn't maintained or reviewed by Google and Google can't confirm the accuracy of the information presented. If you have further questions, you may want to seek professional tax advice.

Why are there multiple payment types & which do I select?

Payments made in relation to Google products can sometimes fall into multiple categories. Google withholds at the appropriate rate based on the income type being paid and corresponding treaty claim. Google won’t use additional treaty claims unless such income type is paid. Income from Play Books Partners falls under "Other copyright royalties."

How to preview tax documents

Can I get a preview of my tax forms that I filled out?
Google will generate PDFs of the IRS tax forms that were filled out. You'll be required to verify the accuracy of your documents. If you need to make changes, simply return to the Partner Center and make a revision.

Tax certification

What are US activities?
US activities are the performance of a service in the United States. This can include having employees or owning equipment in the US that are involved in generating revenue.
What's an affidavit of unchanged circumstances?

An affidavit of unchanged circumstances can be provided with a valid W-8. It allows Google to apply the newly provided form to a prior period in which a publisher has been paid. This means that Google may treat any payments made during the prior period to which the affidavit relates as having the same tax status as presently determined by the new tax form.

This can be used to help Google provide a withholding tax refund, provided the form entitles the publisher to a lower withholding rate and they have made a claim for a refund within the legal timeline for providing refunds (December 31 of the year in which withholding occurs).

Submission & reviews

What's the status of my tax form?
  • In review: Your submitted tax information is being reviewed.
    • This may take up to 7 business days.
    • If additional documents are required to validate your tax information or verify your identity, we notify you in the Google payments center and by email.
  • Approved: Your tax information is accepted as you submitted it.
  • Declined: Your tax information may be declined for a few reasons:
    • The tax identification number (TIN) you entered couldn't be found in IRS records. This may be because the IRS system didn’t update or you recently created a TIN.
    • The TIN and name combination you entered doesn't match IRS records.
    • Your tax information can’t be validated with the documents you provided.

If your form is declined, we notify you in the Google payments center and by email. Submit a new form or contact your tax advisor. In your Billing profile, make sure your legal information matches exactly the information on your tax form before you submit.

Why are my documents under review?

The information you provide in the tax tool goes through a series of checks to ensure safety, accuracy, and completeness. Sometimes, even a small error on your documents may report your tax information as "in review." Ensuring that the tax information you provide matches your payments profile info is the best way to minimize delays in processing your tax information.

Some common cases that will result in a review include:

For W9 Forms:

  • The "legal name" provided in the tax tool doesn't match the name on your payments profile.
  • The "disregarded entity" name provided in the tax tool doesn't match the name on your payments profile.
  • The Social Security Number (SSN) provided in the tax tool is invalid or belongs to a person whose name doesn't match the name on the account. This may take longer to review.

For W8 Forms:

  • The "legal name" provided in the tax tool doesn't match the name on your payments profile
  • The "disregarded entity" name provided in the tax tool doesn't match the name on your payments profile.
  • The "residence address" or "mailing address" provided in the tax tool is in the United States or doesn't match the country/region where you are claiming treaty benefits.
  • An "in care of" or "PO Box" address is provided in the tax tool.
  • The form field "capacity" is populated in the tax tool.
Tip: All W8-IMY Forms submitted will be put under review.
Why am I being asked to provide verification documents?

You may be required to verify your identity if one of the situations applies:

  • Missing TIN or TIN not 9-digit numeric
  • TIN entered isn't currently issued
  • TIN and Name combination doesn' match IRS records
  • Invalid TIN matching request
Learn about the documentation we accept for each tax form.
Which documents do I need to prepare if my US tax information is reported for review?
If your US tax information is reported for additional review, you may need to provide an additional form of identification. We accept .png, .jpeg, and .pdf files. Learn about approved tax documents and forms of identification.
What's tax withholding?

Tax withholding is when taxes are deducted from your payments so that they can be paid to a government to satisfy the payee’s US tax liability.

Under US tax law, Google is a withholding agent required to comply with US tax law, and where required, to withhold taxes on relevant Play Books earnings. Tax withholding may begin as early as June 2021.

How will this affect my income on Play Books

Only the portion of your earnings from readers in the US will be subject to tax withholding and reporting if you provide valid tax information.

The exact rate of tax withholding will be determined by the tax information you provide to Google. You can find your tax withholding rate in the Manage tax information section in your Partner Center Payment Settings once you submit your form. Tax withholding amounts don't display in Play Books' analytics.

Hypothetical example

A Play Books publisher in India in the Play Books Partner Program earns $1,000 USD from Play Books in the last month. Of the $1,000 USD, their books generated $100 USD from US readers.

Here are some possible withholding scenarios:

  • Publisher doesn’t submit tax information: The final tax deduction is $240 USD because the withholding tax rate is up to 24% of total earnings worldwide if they didn't submit tax information. This means that until the publisher submits complete tax information, we’ll need to deduct up to 24% of their total earnings worldwide, not just their US earnings.
  • Publisher submits tax information and claims a treaty benefit: The final tax deduction is $15 USD. This is because India and the US have a tax treaty relationship that reduces the tax rate to 15% of earnings from sales in the US.
  • Publisher submits tax information, but isn't eligible for a tax treaty benefit: The final tax deduction will be $30 USD. This is because the tax rate without a tax treaty is 30% of earnings from sales in the US.

Calculate your estimated tax withholding

Use this example calculation to understand how your Play Books income could be affected:

  1. Access the Revenue Report in Play Books' analytics and set the date filter to the relevant payment period, like October 1–31. It may be helpful to set your Play Books' analytics to the currency you are paid in, like US dollars.
  2. Apply a geography filter to find estimated revenue from the United States. Learn more about your audience in Play Books' analytics.
  3. Go to your Partner Center account to find your tax withholding rate. Your withholding rate appears after submitting your US tax information.
  4. Multiply the results of steps 2 and 3 above.
Important: Following the above only produces an estimate of tax withholding. Once Google begins withholding taxes, you'll see the finalized amount withheld in your regular Partner Center Payments Transactions Report (if any apply).
What if I don’t earn revenue from US sales?
All Play Books publishers should submit tax information to Google regardless of if they earn revenue from sales in the US or not. If you earn revenue from readers in the US in the future, submitting your US tax information will help determine the correct withholding rate for you.
What criteria are you using to determine if I am a US-based publisher?
Your location is determined by the country/region of residence you declare in your tax information.
Does this mean I will be taxed both in my country/region of residence as well as in the US?

Google is only required to withhold US taxes from your Play Books earnings from readers in the US. Your local income tax laws may still apply to your Play Books earnings.

Many countries/regions have tax treaties that reduce or eliminate double taxation. In addition, certain countries/regions may allow for foreign tax credits to help reduce international tax burdens. By claiming a tax treaty in the tax tool in the Partner Center, you may be able to reduce your tax burden. Consult your tax advisor.
What kind of tax reporting documents does Google provide?

You can find finalized tax withholding amounts in your Partner Center Payments Report according to your payment cycle.

All publishers that submit tax information and who receive eligible payments, will receive a tax form (like a 1042-S or 1099-MISC) on or before March 15 of each year for the previous year’s tax withholdings. To request a copy, revision, or to void a year-end US tax form, go to the Partner Center Help Center.

Can I get a tax refund from previous withholdings?

Google may refund US withholding tax in certain circumstances if updated tax information is provided by December 31, 2021. For example, if an updated W-8 tax form with a claim for a lower tax rate is provided in a timely fashion, Google will recalculate withholding amounts and refund the difference.

You'll need to provide an affidavit of unchanged circumstances and declare that the changes made to your form apply to a previous date in time. You can do this under the “Status change affidavit” section in Step 6 of the tax tool in the Partner Center.

You can find these refunds in the payment cycle after you update your form.

These circumstances are limited and valid tax information must be received by the end of the calendar year in which the tax was withheld. If you don’t provide that valid tax information by the end of the calendar year, you'll need to file a request for a refund directly with the IRS. We recommend you seek professional tax advice to this end.

You can find any applicable refunds in your Partner Center Payments Report at the end of the payment cycle after updating your tax information in the Partner Center.

Does this apply to my other Partner Center earnings aside from Play Books?
If you provide valid tax information, the US withholding taxes under Chapter 3 only applies to your Play Books earnings.

Tax withholding

When is US tax withholding applicable?

Generally, a documented non-US person (with a valid Form W-8 on file) is subject to US tax on income that's earned from US sources. For example, if a non-US person performs services in the US, then the payments related to the services performed in the US are subject to US income tax withholding.

The withholding rate depends on the type of income received, whether the payee is eligible for treaty benefits and if eligible, a validly completed claim for treaty benefits on a Form W-8. The IRS requires the party making the payment to a non-US person to withhold, and if applicable, deposit the amounts with the IRS, and complete certain information returns at the end of the calendar year in which payment was made.

What’s the rate of withholding & can this rate be reduced?

If a valid tax form isn't provided, the default withholding rate is generally 30% on applicable payments. This rate may be reduced if:

  • You're a tax resident of a country/region that has an income treaty with the US.
  • The type of income you receive is eligible for a treaty benefit.
  • You meet all the treaty requirements and make a valid claim for treaty benefits.

In some instances, the default withholding rate is 24% where an undocumented partner is presumed US.

To find relevant withholding rates in your payments profile, go to Settings and then Manage tax info.
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