Hiring Abroad? What US Businesses Need to Know About W-8BEN Forms

Marina Svitlyk
Talent Acquisition Manager, RemotelyTalents


Welcome to the world of hiring global talent! At RemotelyTalents, we know that bringing on international team members is exciting, but it's important to get the details right, especially with taxes.

That's where W-8BEN forms come in.

These forms are key for US businesses to manage taxes correctly when hiring abroad. Our guide is here to simplify what W-8BEN forms are all about, making sure your journey into international hiring is hassle-free and compliant. Let's get started and make sense of W-8BEN forms together!

When and Why US Businesses Need W-8BEN

What is a W-8BEN Form?

The W-8BEN form, officially titled "Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding and Reporting (Individuals)," is a crucial document for US businesses hiring international talent. It's designed specifically for non-U.S. individuals (such as freelancers, contractors, or employees) who earn income from a U.S. source.

Purpose and Requirement

The primary purpose of the W-8BEN form is to establish that a foreign individual is not subject to standard U.S. tax withholding rates. When a U.S. company hires someone from another country, this form is used to declare the worker's tax status and claim any benefits under tax treaties between the U.S. and their home country.

When to Collect W-8BEN Forms

US businesses must collect a W-8BEN form from their international hires in the following scenarios:

  1. When hiring non-U.S. individuals who will receive income directly from the business.
  2. Before processing any payments to the international individual.
  3. In situations where the income is connected to a U.S. source, even if the work is performed remotely.

Implications of Non-Compliance

Failing to obtain a W-8BEN form when required can lead to several complications:

  • The business might have to withhold taxes at the maximum rate of 30%, potentially leading to over-withholding.
  • It can also result in penalties and interest charges for not adhering to IRS withholding requirements.
  • Non-compliance may create legal and financial complications, impacting the business's reputation and operational efficiency.

In summary, the W-8BEN form is a non-negotiable part of hiring international talent for US businesses. It ensures tax compliance, aids in claiming treaty benefits, and avoids unnecessary withholding and penalties.

Frequently Asked Questions About W-8BEN Forms

Do I need to submit the W-8BEN forms I collect to the IRS?

No, W-8BEN forms collected by a U.S. business are not typically submitted to the IRS. Instead, they should be kept on file for at least three years after the last payment was made to the individual, as they may be requested during an audit.

Are W-8BEN forms mandatory?

Yes, for non-U.S. persons receiving U.S. source income. These forms are necessary for compliance with IRS regulations and to claim any applicable tax treaty benefits.

How long are W-8BEN forms valid?

A W-8BEN form is valid for the year in which it's signed and the following three calendar years. For example, a form signed in 2023 remains valid through December 31, 2026.

What happens if a W-8BEN form is not submitted?

If a W-8BEN form is not submitted, the payer (the U.S. business) may have to withhold taxes at the maximum rate of 30% and could face penalties for non-compliance. This could also lead to over-withholding for the payee (the non-U.S. person).


Navigating international hiring brings its unique set of challenges and responsibilities, especially when it comes to tax compliance. The W-8BEN form stands as a critical element in this process, ensuring that non-U.S. individuals are taxed appropriately on income earned from U.S. sources.

It's essential for U.S. businesses to understand when and why these forms are needed, how to properly manage them, and the consequences of non-compliance.

By staying informed and vigilant about these requirements, businesses can seamlessly integrate global talent into their workforce, reaping the benefits of a diverse team while adhering to international tax laws.

Marina Svitlyk
Talent Acquisition Manager, RemotelyTalents

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