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How do I complete Form W-8 BEN as the owner of a foreign-owned single member LLC or as a non-resident individual?

A Form W-8 BEN is filled out exactly the same for a foreign-owned single member LLC and as a non-resident individual. This is due to the disregarded entity status of a single member LLC. 

Part I – Identification of the Beneficial owner

1. Name of the individual (owner of the LLC).  NOT the name of the LLC. This frustrates many LLC owners because they don’t want to us their personal name. Unfortunately, this is a result of the disregarded entity status, and that status is often what makes LLCs desirable.

2. Country of citizenship of the individual (not the country of formation of the LLC)

3. Permanent residence address of the owner (not the address of the LLC)

4. Mailing address – this can the address of the LLC

5. U.S. taxpayer identification number (SSN or ITIN) – this is not usually required. If the party you are providing the form too insists on it, usually that means they are not familiar with working with non-residents.

6a. Foreign tax identifying number – usually this should be provided. You can see if the party you are providing this to will accept it without it, but if a US number is not provided, usually the number in your country of residency should be provided.

6b. If you don’t provide the foreign tax identifying number, check this box.

7. Reference number(s) – if you have an account number with the party you are providing the form to, you should put that there unless you receive other instructions.  If not, this is a good place to put your LLC name if you have one.

8. Date of birth – self explanatory

Part II – Claim of Tax Treaty Benefits

This can be the hardest part of the form. If you are a resident of a country that there is nothing to fill out in this section, you can proceed to Part III.

If there is a tax treaty between your country of residence and the United States, you need to review the treaty to see if there is anything relevant to your business.

9. The country you are a resident of.

10. Here you must fill out the article and paragraph of the treaty that applies to you and the tax rate that applies to you. If any special conditions must be bet, you need to state which conditions you meet.

If you are filling out the Form W-8 BEN for Interest, Dividends, or Royalties, the IRS has a chart with the article and paragraph numbers and rates:

For most income from services and activities performed outside the United States, you must review the treaty to see if anything applies. The location of this information in treaties, if anything applies at all, can vary. Usually, these activities are not taxable in the United States even without a treaty, so no input is necessary.

For personal services performed INSIDE the United States, the IRS has another chart that provides the necessary information:

Remember, many people may have nothing to fill in these sections, and that is usually okay!

Part III

Here you should review the certifications you are making. Then you can check the box that you have the capacity to sign the form, sign, date, and print your form.