How do I trade US shares?
Before you can buy US shares, you need to complete a US tax form and return it to us. You may also benefit, depending on your circumstances, from a reduced rate of withholding tax on US sourced income (such as dividends).
Why do you need to complete a US tax form?
We have certain duties to the US tax authority for customers holding US shares and receiving income from the US. We must request and receive documents to comply.
When you complete a US tax form you may benefit from a reduced Withholding Tax rate. For example, you may be eligible for a reduced rate of 15% Withholding Tax on your US dividends, instead of the standard rate of 30%. This means that you may be able to receive $85 (net) from a gross U.S. dividend of $100, rather than the standard $70 (net).
What is Withholding Tax?
When dividends, interest payments or some other types of corporate settlement are made by foreign corporations or governments, Withholding Tax will usually be deducted at the point of payment and paid to the government of the country initiating that payment. The amount of Withholding Tax deducted can differ from country to country and will affect the value of the returns.
If you receive foreign payments from trading international securities through us, the amount of Withholding Tax you have paid will appear on your consolidated tax certificate, which can be viewed online. If you are not registered online we post this certificate to you at the end of the tax year.
Completing the appropriate tax form
It is your responsibility to make sure you complete the right form for your circumstances. If you are completing a W-8BEN form, please refer to the ‘How to’ guide first. Further help can be found at www.irs.gov under ‘Forms & Instructions’.
A non-US individual such as a UK resident would ordinarily complete a W-8BEN:
The W-8BEN form is valid for three calendar years following the year in which you sign it, unless your personal circumstances change. Please let us know within 30 days if this happens. We will contact you when your form is due to expire.
UK listed shares paying US sourced dividends
Ordinarily if you complete a W-8BEN form you will only pay the 15% Withholding Tax rate instead of 30% on US listed shares paying US sourced dividends. For UK listed shares paying US sourced dividends a 30% Withholding Tax rate is applied even if you have a W-8BEN form in place.
For example, you would receive $70 on a $100 dividend.
A US person would ordinarily complete a W-9:
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