Apple Taxes Authors’ Patience

If you want to publish via Apple’s iTunes Connect, you must use a Mac or a cloud program. That’s not a deal killer, but there are other hurdles.

When I tried to set up an account for my single member LLC, a disregarded entity for tax purposes and a very common form for authors, I came face-to-face with Apple’s major glitch. I could not properly fill out the W-9 tax form, since Apple automatically incorrectly fills in one of the fields, and it cannot be changed online. There is no way to properly characterize the LLC.

My emails to customer service did not get a response. A phone call to Apple’s help number was no help, they told me to go back to the email, since the tax department is a separate area with no phone number.

Then I discovered that this glitch has existed since at least 2012! Google revealed an online forum where authors complained they had to snail mail a correct W-9 form to Apple’s tax department. That is supposed to fix the problem. But the authors received no written confirmation of the hoped-for change, and the change was not reflected online.

Apple, famous for its tax avoidance schemes, would have authors trust this is all handled properly—and without visible confirmation—on the back end when the online evidence says otherwise. Yet Apple has been aware of—and claims to have been working on the problem—for at least three years. To me, that’s a red flag. Apple makes its problem the authors’ problem.

In contrast, Amazon’s sign-up process is straightforward, and, if you need assistance, customer service comes back with the correct answer immediately by phone or within 24 hours by email.