Robbing Hood

Whoever said ‘tax doesn’t have to be taxing’ has clearly never dealt with the evil Sheriff of Nottingham. Or his modern counterpart – Amazon. Our battle with tax was long, bloody and we trooped away from the battlefield exhausted, craving a Red Bull and dragging our muddy victory flag behind us. For those who missed our great tax adventure with the IRS, you can find it here. We thought we were done. We’d planted our victory flag on our battlements and showboated with the best of them.

We should’ve guessed Amazon would be plotting a second attack.

On Monday we finally received our first royalty cheque from Amazon USA, almost a year after we started self publishing. This is because British Amazon pay us electronically every quarter. American Amazon will only pay us once we’ve made $100 by the paying quarter and they will only pay us by cheque. We don’t have American banking numbers but despite having International banking numbers, this isn’t good enough. If you’re a ‘foreign entity’ Amazon USA don’t want to know. We stroked the cheque in wonderment then were quickly dashed in the face with cold water, the ice cubes hitting us in the eyes. They’d taken $44 tax off us. We’d gone through all the hassle with the IRS, obtained our EIN number, filled out the W8-BEN form to stop them taking our tax and they took it anyway. We’d danced through their traps and hoops and they still shot us in the arse. We donned our hooded cloaks, fetched our children’s archery set from the Gimpics and vowed to stage the biggest tax retrieval since Robin Hood first slipped on a pair of tights.

But flights are expensive so we emailed them instead.

While we waited for them to respond, we went to our bank to pay the cheque in, only to be told foreign cheques below £100 had to be sent off for ‘negotiation’. And we were going to be stiffed to the tune of £6 for the privilege. This was a currency exchange, not a terrorist standoff! £6 for them to release the hostages! Or in this case, our money. It’s hard enough making the royalties go high enough to get paid and now we will be charged £6 EVERY TIME Amazon USA pay us. But if the value goes above £100 we have to pay £12! Might need to take up bank robbing as a hobby. But that will probably come with charges too. We sobbed and shrieked and started throwing things like demented chimpanzees, causing an awkward silence to descend on the bank, broken only by the embarrassed cough of the pensioner behind us.

Today Amazon emailed us back. Did they throw themselves at our mercy and beg for forgiveness for stealing our tax? No. They said they didn’t have a W8-BEN form for us in their records. By now our fury was so great, Mars emailed NASA to enquire about the pulsing glow that was illuminating the Milky Way. That form was sent to them in September. Our mum posted it while we were off hunting ghosts in Cornwall. And our mum is the super reliable kind. Clearly Amazon have lost it and are too embarrassed to admit it. So we have now filled in another form and have to post it. Not email. Doubt they’ll compensate us the 87p postage. In the meantime, they’re withholding our tax. They’re slow enough to pay their own taxes but are bloody quick to hold ours to ransom.

And amongst all this we decided it was time we registered with HMRC for British tax. We don’t earn enough to pay tax but we are now registered as self-employed so we can do self-assessment. Joy. Admittedly, the only reason we signed up wasn’t out of fear of the Government finding out about us and sending the Inland Revenue after us (we live just across the street from the tax offices so can’t exactly hide), it was because we found out we can claim stuff on expenses. We got carried away planning all the printers, laptops, ink, paper, pens etc that we would buy with the Government’s money. A shopping spree in Staples was on the cards. But mum informs us they’re not just going to pay for everything we want. Then it’s false advertising, because due to the recent expenses scandal, we were under the impression we would be able to charge them for a duck pond and floating island, like a Conservative MP had done. Sorry Peking, the ducky jacuzzi will have to wait. She was looking forwards to her feathers being bubbly fresh.

So if anyone knows the whereabouts of Robin Hood, text him. We may have to join his band of outlaws when we seize our tax. Raven Hood the movie. Tax is about to get Gothic.

7 Comments

  1. I must be more in trouble than you then. Because I didn’t fill any W8-BEN form or something like that. The woman from the IRS who talked to me over the phone said that I didn’t need to do that because no retailer had the right to keep money from me. So I agree with you in saying that Amazon is stealing our money in a very bad manner, and only because we are “aliens” (as they say). I may be an alien or a foreign entity, but I am an author, just like the ones that live in the States, only that it seems I was born in the wrong country. Really, this topic pisses me off big time. Since I published my book I have just received a tiny payment, and I think it was from Createspace, not from Amazon. What is more, Amazon doesn’t let me check my sales, saying that I cannot do that since I am outside the States. Bullshit. So if you decide to start a robbing spree against Amazon, count me in.
    On a happier note, I will be shipping your amazing birthday present(s) tomorrow 😀

    • They are totally robbing us! We only just discovered we also have to do a W8-BEN form for Smashwords – they haven’t paid us yet so are obviously withholding our tax too. We can check our sales on Amazon – we click on ‘self publish with us’ at the bottom of the screen, log in and go to ‘reports’ and it lets us check the sales. For Createspace we have to log in to Createspace. But the whole tax thing is such a hassle and it’s ridiculous Amazon won’t pay us electronically. £6 per cheque is a LOT of money. It takes numerous sales to make that back.

      yay for the presents! Can’t wait! 🙂

  2. This is so beyond absurd. I totally empathize! Every entity associated with the govt here seems to be flat out criminal. It’s beyond frustrating!

    • it’s incredibly frustrating! Hopefully it’ll be sorted soon. It’s hard enough trying to make a living from writing, without companies and banks taking or withholding the money we’ve earned. Thieves! 😀

  3. Bad, bad, horrible greedy!
    I agree Peeking needs a duckcuzzie!
    I SO want to see “Robinhood the Movie” 😉

    • LOL duckcuzzie! Why didn’t we think of that? That’s brilliant 😀

  4. […] to read about our tax battle, this post is about the trouble we had with the IRS. Then there was this post about Amazon withholding our […]


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