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Monday, June 24, 2013

How to fill up W-8BEN form for Malaysian?

I just get an email from my US trading account stating that my W-8BEN form is not going to be valid after end of Dec 2013 and asked me to resend them a new copy of the W-8BEN form. While I was filling up the form, I found that it is quite troublesome, if you do not know how to fill it up, so I guess it is best for me to blog about it, as a reference for myself in the future, as well as for reference for other Malaysians.

What is W-8BEN form?

You need to fill up this form if you have a trading/brokerage account in the US. If you don't fill this up, the super efficient IRS (Internal Revenue Services) will hunt you down, just like there is a saying "There are 2 things that are certain; death and tax". Anyway, just kidding, basically, if you don't fill this up, the IRS can hold up to 30% of your dividend, interest, royalty, etc. Basically , this rate is what the IRS can withhold for a foreign person. If you filled this up, you are excluded from this withholding provided you are a non-resident alien. However, all my dividend are subjected to 30% tax after I submitted this form, but at least was not taxed for capital gain. US residents and permanent residents do not need to fill this form as they are always subject to taxes.

Non-resident alien - generally means person that is not staying for a US for a long duration and has permanent residency outside US.

Every 3 years you need to fill up and resubmit this W-8BEN form. I submitted mine when I open the trading account and it is not due for another submission. It is either thru electronically or using the manual way to sending the form to the US. (For my case, I need to send through postage)

Reading the W-8BEN FAQ spreadsheet can be confusing for 1st time as the language used is tax and accounting centric.

Here is a summary what to fill:

Part 1:

Line 1: Fill up your name according to your account. Note that US naming convention is "First Name , Last Name".

Line 2:  Leave it blank as you are filling it up as an individual

Line 3: Pick individual

Line 4: Your address where you claim to be resident and paying tax. Put your Malaysian address here.

Line 5: Fill it above if Line 4 is not your mailing address.

Line 6: Leave empty if you don't have social security number aka the identity card number for the US.

Line 7: Optional. Leave blank. No need to fill our LHDN info into it.

Line 8: Account number for your trading/brokerage account. I put down my name also to be more complete. The reason is that I have multiple US trading account hence they need to know which account that I am filling.

In theory , I believe that you only need to submit one W-8BEN for all your account you have since you are practically giving them the same duplicate info. But i think because the brokerage firms does not sync-up the W-8BEN forms between their rivals, hence the need to do multiple jobs.

Part II
Line 9a,b,c,d,e & Line 10 - Leave untick as Malaysia does not have a tax treaty with US. And the rest does not apply for a non-resident alien and individual account holders.

Part III
You don't need to tick this as you like the average foreign US stock buyer do not dabble in interest swaps aka "notional principal contract" (such a fancy name). Unless if you are a private hedge fund manager??

Part IV - Just sign your autograph at the bottom and affixed a date and that's about it.

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