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US tax Form W-8BEN for non-US taxpayers

If you do not pay US taxes, you may be wondering why you are asked to fill out an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) W-8BEN form. The W-8BEN is an important form for any non-US taxpayer who has earned interest in the US over a calendar year. In fact, this form can save you money.1 

2-minute read

What is the W-8BEN? 

The W-8BEN is a tax document for non-US taxpayers who earn US-sourced income, such as interest on a savings account. It determines how much of your earned income, if any, should be withheld by the IRS. It is important to fill out the W-8BEN if you do not pay US taxes so UNFCU knows if you should be exempt from such withholdings. 

We do not send your completed W-8BEN form to the IRS. When you submit your W-8BEN, you are simply letting UNFCU know not to withhold any interest you have accrued.2

Why is the W-8BEN important? 

Put simply, filling out your W-8BEN could save you money. Let's break down how: 

  • The W-8BEN establishes that you are a non-US taxpayer who has received US-sourced income. 
  • It allows you to claim exemption from the mandatory withholding, which can be up to 30% of interest earned. 

Without this form, UNFCU must comply with annual withholding rules, and apply up to the full 30% withholding rate to your account. Furthermore, the interest withheld will be sent to the IRS. It may be difficult to reclaim that money if you do not file taxes in the US. 

By filling out this tax document, you can retain your earned interest, and avoid withholdings on your account. 

How do I submit my W-8BEN?

Filling out the W-8BEN is easier than you may think. You can even do it online following these steps: 

  1. Have your foreign tax identifying number (foreign TIN) ready. Your foreign TIN might be shown on your identifying documents, depending on the country in which you reside. If not, you can contact the taxing authority in your country of permanent residence, or fill out the Explanation of Missing Foreign Tax Identifying Number form (PDF). This step is important, as the W-8BEN is incomplete without your foreign TIN or Explanation of Missing Foreign Tax Identifying Number form.
  2. Sign in to Digital Banking and select Online Forms, then Update Tax Status from the Other Services section. You will automatically receive an email with a code and a link that directs you to an online tax certification site. You can also visit our IRS Tax Certification page and enter the code you have received from us there. If you are missing certain credentials, like an email address or date of birth, you will receive a notification from UNFCU via postal mail. If you do not want to use the online certification process, you can contact us and request blank tax forms. 
  3. Complete the online certification. It includes the same fields as the W-8BEN, so it's the same as completing the form itself. 
  4. Once you submit your online certification to confirm you are not a taxpayer in the US, you will only have to resubmit it every three years. You will be notified by UNFCU when it is time to resubmit. However, if you change your tax address, or if your tax status changes, you will need to let us know right away. You may also need to submit updated documents. You can request a new set of tax certification documents, or generate a new certification online. Simply sign in to Digital Banking and click Online Forms, then Update Tax Status

The takeaway

If you have questions, browse our tax reporting FAQs.

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