Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Native Wildflower Photography, Getty Images and IRS

Photography of native Western Australian wildflowers has long been one of my specialties and I had a great rapport going with Garden Picture Library (GPL) in the UK. The recent purchase of Photolibrary (and thus GPL) by Getty Images has thrown something of a spanner in the works however.
It's not that I have an issue with Getty's 50% commission, as sales volume would probably cover that. Getty being the big giant with tentacles in markets all over the place.
No, my issue is that in order to avoid being slugged 30% on any sales by the US tax department (yes, even as a non-US citizen), I have to apply for a US tax department ITN, in order to complete a US tax department form W8-BEN or something.
Now I've made inquiries about this all before and there are other non-USA photographers whose experiences in this area make having your teeth drilled without anesthetic by a road drill a rather pleasant endevour.
I tried to ring the US consulate here in Perth this afternoon and after about five menus and press 1, then press 5 etc, I was given a Sydney number to ring.
I also know that documents have to be authenticated and I know that others have had original documents lost by the US tax department while trying to jump through hurdles with this.
No, instead I approached another UK specialty library this afternoon and had an initially positive first encounter.
The drama now will be whether Getty releases my images from GPL so that I can begin marketing them and the new ones ASAP.
I just find it so frustrating that there is a bureaucracy level in the USA that believes it can control the rest of the world - and take 30% of any money owed to me from stock sales.
Thank goodness the UK tax department doesn't enforce a system whereby Alamy - or any other UK library - has to deduct 30% of earnings even for non-UK citizens.
Maybe if Australia had had a war of independence from the Brits the situation might be different.
Last comment very much tongue in cheek :)