I am looking for some information on the use of the various W-8 forms.


The IRS Instructions for forms W-8 are not easy to understand. We assume you have the IRS Instructions for these forms, but just in case, you can find them here:

Denise Johnson, general counsel and tax compliance manager for Balance Consulting, explains the who, what, and why for each type of form W-8:

W-8BEN (Beneficial Owner)
Who: Individuals or Entities, depending upon the circumstances
What: a. FDAPI (passive investment income – i.e. rents, royalties, dividends, etc.) from either an individual or an entity b. Some Personal Services Payments (a type of ECI not covered by Form W-8ECI or 8233) nonemployee compensation – entities either claiming or not claiming treaty benefits; individuals not claiming treaty benefits
Why: a. Documentation of non-U.S. status (Section 1) b. To claim treaty benefits (except for individual performing personal services, see Form 8233) Section 2 – Must have a US TIN

Form 8233
Who: Individual
What: Personal Services
Why: To claim treaty benefits – Must have a US TIN
*Note – Read Form 8233 instructions for special completion/certification instructions

Form W-8ECI (Effectively Connected Income)
Who: Entity doing business in the U.S. claiming that income is effectively connected with the conduct of a trade or business
What: Entity will have physical place of business in the U.S. and will file U.S. income tax return and pay U.S. tax
Why: a. Documentation of non-U.S. status
b. No withholding required on this type of ECI – Must have a US TIN

Form W-8IMY (Intermediary)
Who: Foreign agents, foreign intermediaries, foreign partnerships, and U.S. branches of foreign banks or insurance companies
What: A/P Context - Foreign agents receiving income for foreign persons providing US services (must have W-8BEN of beneficial owner attached)
Why: a. Documentation of non-US status
b. Documentation that payee is not the beneficial owner

W-8EXP (Exempt)
Who: Foreign governments, International Organizations within the meaning of the IRC, Foreign Central Banks of Issue; foreign tax-exempt organizations
What: Limited application; payments to above payee types
Why: a. documentation of non-US status
b. claim reduced rate of withholding or exemption from withholding

For further help from the IRS, you can call the International and U.S. Residency Certification Services office at 215-516-2000.

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