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Author Topic: Photoshelter is picking up steam  (Read 15422 times)

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cphoto

  • CreativeShot.com
« Reply #25 on: May 05, 2008, 12:57 »
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Do other sites like Getty and Corbis withhold money for non-us citizens?  I don't mind claiming money back but not if photoshelter is the only site that does this.


Photoshelter appear to be the only ones who do this, as far as I can see.  Sounds a bit scam-like to me.  Something about it isn't quite right.


Well that's because they are the only one to follow US laws, LOL!!!

I really don't understand what the problem is here.  You make money, you have to pay taxes, end of story.  Photoshelter is a US based company and it falls under US laws.

30% is just the default tax rate if you don't take the time to fill out the IRS form.  As explained on their website, most countries have a Tax Treaty with US and the withholding rate is actually very low, 0 to 10% on average depending on which country you live in, see table at: http://www.ofii.org/docs/Withholding_Rates.pdf


« Last Edit: May 05, 2008, 12:59 by cphoto »


« Reply #26 on: May 05, 2008, 13:06 »
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Because they are the only one to follow US laws, LOL!!!

I really don't understand what the problem is here.  You make money, you have to pay taxes, end of story.  Photoshelter is a US based company and it falls under US laws.

30% is just the default tax rate if you don;' take the time to fill out the IRS form.  As explained on their website, most countries have a Tax Treaty with US and the wthholding rate is actually very low, 0 to 10% on average depending on which country you live in, see table at: http://www.ofii.org/docs/Withholding_Rates.pdf


Well, that's all well and good.  But the form can take around 18 months to go through to US government and you can only put it through once you've sold a file there.  You have three months from the date of sale to claim the money back, so essentially for up to 15 months, you're being cheated out of money.

I phoned the accountant in the family, and he told me NOT to fill the form in and NOT to go with that company.  He said that the US shouldn't be keeping any of the money because as a contributor/freelance artist artist to the company and NOT an employee, I'm responsible for paying my own taxes in MY OWN country of residence.  He said that the US get their taxes from the 30% of the money that I'm not paid, and that in this situation, Photoshelter should NOT be withholding that money.

The Tax Treaty apparently should not apply in this situations, and is primarily designed for those working and living in the US under contract but having their primary residence somewhere else in the world.  Basically, if I went and working for Microsoft in the states on a temporary visa, I would pay 30% taxes on my pay each month to the US government, because that covers my temporary right to be there - my police, fire service, roads, other public services.  It's the US's way of making sure I'm paying for myself while I'm there.  If I was there for longer, then I would apply to the government to NOT pay that 30%, but to get a social security number or whatever you guys have, so that I could pay normal taxes.  It's like emergency tax.  It doesn't apply to those who aren't actually working in the US.  Therefore, because I am not residing in the US then I do not need to pay the 30% and I do not need to apply under the tax treaty.

DISCLAIMER: This is what my relative told me who is an accountant in London.  He says he's dealt with a similar situation before with a musician.

« Reply #27 on: May 05, 2008, 13:28 »
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Seren is absolutely right.  As a non-US citizen NOT LIVING in the US you are not accountable to pay tax there. The company (Photoshelter in this case) is accountable for taxes on the income from the money they earn from us photographers (the commission that they take on each sale). I must, however, pay taxes on my income from stock in my own country of residence.  As long as they have this requirement I will not join them and I will encourage other non-US photographers to do the same and to make sure they get the message.

cphoto

  • CreativeShot.com
« Reply #28 on: May 05, 2008, 13:48 »
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Well, that's all well and good.  But the form can take around 18 months to go through to US government

??  According to IRS it takes on average 4 to 6 weeks to get back an ITIN after submitting a W-7 form to IRS.  Not sure where you got this 18 months from?

A quick Google search shows that people gets their ITIN as quick as 3 weeks after submitting the form...

« Reply #29 on: May 05, 2008, 14:11 »
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Well, that's all well and good.  But the form can take around 18 months to go through to US government

??  According to IRS it takes on average 4 to 6 weeks to get back an ITIN after submitting a W-7 form to IRS.  Not sure where you got this 18 months from?

A quick Google search shows that people gets their ITIN as quick as 3 weeks after submitting the form...

Perhaps he was talking about specific cases his company has dealt with in the past, where there has been a hold up or something.

Either way, I don't want the US government knowing personal information about me.  It's bad enough with these new entry requirements when you fly to the US now (have they actually implemented that form asking for the 42 bits of personal information?). 

« Reply #30 on: May 05, 2008, 15:13 »
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Seren is absolutely right.  As a non-US citizen NOT LIVING in the US you are not accountable to pay tax there. The company (Photoshelter in this case) is accountable for taxes on the income from the money they earn from us photographers (the commission that they take on each sale). I must, however, pay taxes on my income from stock in my own country of residence.  As long as they have this requirement I will not join them and I will encourage other non-US photographers to do the same and to make sure they get the message.



Here's some stuff Allen at Photoshelter wrote about the tax situation.

Theres been a lot of talk about taxes on this forum, especially from our non-US-based photographers regarding the headache that the necessary paperwork is causing. Trust us, the tax reporting obligation creates an additional administrative burden on us and we dont like it either, but it is the law and in order to protect both PhotoShelter and you folks, we need to follow it.

Well try to make this as clear as you can make anything about taxes, and will work to continue to clarify the issue and make whatever changes or improvements that we can as we move forward. We didnt make this stuff up though. We have hired and consulted with tax attorneys and tax specialists who deal with this for a living and worked with them to this result. We knew this was going to be an issue with some folks, which is the reason that we put it up front. As several of the folks have noted on the forums, many of our competitors do the same thing, only you dont find out about it until you try to get paid.

Here are a few key concepts for non-US-based contributors:

First, because you are being paid by PhotoShelter, which is a U.S. Corporation, the income is deemed to be taxable in the U.S. Some folks dont seem to like this, but please remember one key thing: for tax purposes, you are not selling an image in the traditional sense. What you are receiving from PhotoShelter are the proceeds under a license agreement that must be treated as a royalty as required under tax law. U.S. Treasury Regulation 1.871-7(b) makes it clear that "items of fixed or determinable annual or periodical gains, profits, or income are also subject to [the 30% withholding tax], as, for instance, royalties, including royalties for the use of patents, copyrights, secret processes and formulas, and other like property." Payments from the licensing of stock photography fall squarely within the category of royalties described in the regulation. Because these payments need be characterized as royalties constituting "fixed and determinable, annual or periodic" income, PhotoShelter, Inc. is required under the Internal Revenue Code to serve as a withholding agent.

The instructions on Form W-8BEN outline a royalty as one of the applicable reporting classes. To many who have responded that you have sold images to U.S. magazines without going through this hassle, this is the key difference (i.e. a direct sale does not constitute a royalty). Also for those who dont like paying U.S. taxes (including Wesley Snipes), (please note that from what we can tell, and we cant speak for every country in the world) you can often claim a lower withholding rate (possibly 0%) on the Form W-8BEN if there is a tax treaty between your home country and the U.S., or alternatively, many countries allow you to take a credit for taxes in your own country where you are a resident for taxes paid in the U.S.

The issue that we had been waiting several months to receive clarification from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was whether or not a letter is required to be submitted with the W-7 from PhotoShelter as justification for receiving an ITIN. Our take was that you dont need this letter and that this documentation is a requisite for what we interpret as more institutional forms of payment, i.e. banks, insurance companies, brokerage firms, etc. We contacted the IRS on multiple occasions and when we explained our position, they needed to do further research. We finally heard back from them and even though we think its a bit much, the IRS requires the following documentation:

For our international photographers, when you submit the W-7 to get an ITIN, you will need to provide evidence that you will be receiving a payment from a U.S. company in order to substantiate the requirement for an ITIN. To do so, you must have your first sale with PhotoShelter before making your application for an ITIN. When you have your first sale, we will make available to you on the My Sales tab of your profile page, a remittance advice with your name, address and account number to demonstrate your entitlement to receive these funds. In addition, as a preemptive matter and even though the IRS said we didnt need to, we are also going to provide a letter to further clarify this point. You can download this letter in the Tax Information section of the Payment Info tab of your profile. These documents, along with your evidence of residence should be submitted to the IRS in order to obtain an ITIN. Also, as several of you have pointed out, rather than send these documents to the U.S., the IRS does have offices in London, Paris and Frankfurt, which should help cut down on the turnaround time.

If you want to take advantage of the reduced withholding rates provided under a tax treaty upon your first sale, youll have to wait until you receive your ITIN and submit with your Form W-8BEN before you draw your funds, otherwise we will have to withhold taxes at a 30% rate.

Our intention was to avoid this process and enable it so that you could get the tax paperwork done upfront before you had a sale. But in practice, the IRS apparently doesnt want to set up an ITIN for a person unless they can demonstrate that they need one.

Filling out the paperwork is a process that takes a lot of time. Again, we want to make the process as easy for you as possible, but we have to comply with the tax laws and ultimately there is a notable benefit to folks like our photographers in the U.K. who once the proper documentation is received get their payment with $0 withheld. One of the respondents on the forum made a comment essentially saying do it once and get it over with. Remember that you dont need to go through this every time you make a sale; just the one time to get it set up to take advantage of the reduced rates. We are sorry that this process is unavoidable and realize that getting passports and other records notarized is difficult, but we are committed to assisting you in completing the process as quickly as is reasonably possible.

We've developed a few pages in the Learning Center to provide additional information, which we suggest you read:

For US Persons: http://psc.photoshelter.com/mem/learn/payment/tax
For non-US: http://psc.photoshelter.com/mem/learn/payment/tax_intl

Allen





« Reply #31 on: May 05, 2008, 15:54 »
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Thank you for the comprehensive explanation Allen. In view of this apparent unavoidable hassle I will pass on Photoshelter for the time being and stick to the dozen or so other sites where I get monthly payments without any such requirements. It is already difficult to keep up with preparing and submitting new images and I am definitely not going to add unnecessary paperwork and governmental bureaucracy to my workload if I can avoid it.   

Contakt

    This user is banned.
« Reply #32 on: May 05, 2008, 16:25 »
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Took a while, but finally Mr. Shady admits to being a representative of Photoshelter.com.

While "some" might appreciate you rewriting the USA tax code in its entirety, I think it would be much more honest of you to say who you are when it involves inflated earnings spin. Because that's all it is!

Lately there's been a succession of dot.com millionaires coming on MSG with off-the-wall earnings and they're barely out of their PJ's.

That's the type of hype I was referring to and well done to you too Seren for coming back and unmasking what is potentially one of the largest scams being perpetrated on European photographers under the guise of US tax law.

This is a huge gray area and the reason why SS and IS don't even go near it. The fact that PS is domiciled in the US is of no relevance to me whatsoever but the fact that you think you can justify withholding 30% of my earnings is the reason why I'm deleting my portfolio there for starters.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2008, 16:35 by Contakt »

cphoto

  • CreativeShot.com
« Reply #33 on: May 05, 2008, 16:46 »
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Again this is not unusual and that's the law.

You just have to fill out a form (10minutes of your time), send it to the IRS and the withholding rate will most likely be 0%.

Getty Images has the exact same process, BTW, and I'm sure that Getty attorneys know what they are doing ;)

From Istock forum, a contributor just accepted with Getty:

We are very pleased that we are able to offer you a
contract with Getty Images. Before we can send you an agreement, we
must get some basic information from you. We have attached a
contributor contact sheet and a tax form for you to fill out and return
to me.

If you are a US tax resident please
complete the attached blank W-9 form. We will not be able to complete
setting up your contract without a properly completed W-9 tax form.
 
If you are a tax resident of a country other than the United States
please review the attached tax document for detailed tax form
instructions. You may return your contact sheet to us without a W-8BEN
(if you need time to apply for a U.S. tax identification number or
choose not to apply for one) but please be aware that we are required
by U.S. tax laws to apply 30% withholding tax on any royalty payments
until we receive a properly completed W-8BEN with a U.S. taxpayer
identification number.

« Reply #34 on: May 06, 2008, 01:02 »
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media magnet also has this same tax setup

grp_photo

« Reply #35 on: May 06, 2008, 01:30 »
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Took a while, but finally Mr. Shady admits to being a representative of Photoshelter.com.

You are aware that he just quoted Allen from photoshelter?
I don't care much about photoshelter but i hardly understand your extreme resentments maybe you can enlighten me despite the tax-thing i can't see anything wrong with them it's a very positive approach in my opinion. Actually I guess they did reject you or your work, you shouldn't take this too personal imho.

cphoto

  • CreativeShot.com
« Reply #36 on: May 06, 2008, 01:33 »
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Took a while, but finally Mr. Shady admits to being a representative of Photoshelter.com.

While "some" might appreciate you rewriting the USA tax code in its entirety, I think it would be much more honest of you to say who you are when it involves inflated earnings spin. Because that's all it is!

Lately there's been a succession of dot.com millionaires coming on MSG with off-the-wall earnings and they're barely out of their PJ's.

That's the type of hype I was referring to and well done to you too Seren for coming back and unmasking what is potentially one of the largest scams being perpetrated on European photographers under the guise of US tax law.

This is a huge gray area and the reason why SS and IS don't even go near it. The fact that PS is domiciled in the US is of no relevance to me whatsoever but the fact that you think you can justify withholding 30% of my earnings is the reason why I'm deleting my portfolio there for starters.

Just saw your work over there, very nice! 
If you would have the opportunity to work for Getty Images would you just tell them "no, sorry, but I won't fill out this stupid tax form because I live in Ireland" ? ;)  C'mon Mr White...
« Last Edit: May 06, 2008, 01:35 by cphoto »

« Reply #37 on: May 06, 2008, 01:51 »
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Perhaps it's different for the Getty spec shooters, because an acquaintance of mine from when I was an assistant in a studio never had to register with the US government.  Perhaps they pay their spec shooters something other than "royalties".

Whatever.  I think I'll support the British agencies for now. 

« Reply #38 on: May 06, 2008, 02:35 »
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I don't have many photos with them but If I ever get a sale there, I will do the forms.  As long as I can get all the money and pay tax in the UK, I don't mind.

« Reply #39 on: May 06, 2008, 02:42 »
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Could it be that most micros avoid paying U.S taxes simply by using a foreign shell company for their businesses?

Isn't iStock still canadian (but owned by U.S. company Gettyimages), StockXpert operated by the ungarian HAAP (which is owned by U.S company Jupiterimages), Dreamstime operated from Romania and Snapvillage based in Ireland?

Don't think that Photoshelter or Gettyimages got anything wrong regarding taxation of contributor royalties. It's more the practices of the micros that look a little shady.


Contakt

    This user is banned.
« Reply #40 on: May 06, 2008, 04:39 »
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Just saw your work over there, very nice! 
If you would have the opportunity to work for Getty Images would you just tell them "no, sorry, but I won't fill out this stupid tax form because I live in Ireland" ? ;)  C'mon Mr White...

Thankyou CP for your kind words. I already submit to Getty now go try and find me on there  ;D

That aside, all this controversy prompted me to take a closer look at Photoshelter and the reason why I've come out so vocally against Mr. Shady.

As it stands, I don't believe PS is making the type of money he is waxing lyrical about. Initially the site showed much promise and after several months what we have now is a collection of snapshot style images that look more like they belong in someone's personal portfolio than on any commercial site.

90% of the images on PS are simply not going to sell and it is for that reason the IRS won't be in the slightest bit interested in this site no more than myself.

« Last Edit: May 06, 2008, 05:28 by Contakt »

« Reply #41 on: May 06, 2008, 11:33 »
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Just saw your work over there, very nice! 
If you would have the opportunity to work for Getty Images would you just tell them "no, sorry, but I won't fill out this stupid tax form because I live in Ireland" ? ;)  C'mon Mr White...

Thankyou CP for your kind words. I already submit to Getty now go try and find me on there  ;D

That aside, all this controversy prompted me to take a closer look at Photoshelter and the reason why I've come out so vocally against Mr. Shady.

As it stands, I don't believe PS is making the type of money he is waxing lyrical about. Initially the site showed much promise and after several months what we have now is a collection of snapshot style images that look more like they belong in someone's personal portfolio than on any commercial site.

90% of the images on PS are simply not going to sell and it is for that reason the IRS won't be in the slightest bit interested in this site no more than myself.



Do you pay the $50 fee per photo to have them listed at Getty?

I don't work for Photoshelter.


« Reply #42 on: May 07, 2008, 12:10 »
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And another sale reported again today. 



Contakt

    This user is banned.
« Reply #43 on: May 07, 2008, 12:20 »
0
And another sale reported again today. 




Wow that's 3 sales almost in a row, I'd better upload my whole portfolio quick in case you get a fourth  ???

« Reply #44 on: May 08, 2008, 21:15 »
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Well I guess we can make it 4 now because here's one found in use.

http://www.portfolio.com/views/blogs/capital/2008/05/08/the-last-clinton-election?addComment=true

« Reply #45 on: June 25, 2008, 22:52 »
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It says "Photoshelter" but not "Photoshelter Collection"... How do I know which site it came from?

I haven't seen a single sale reported in any of the major professional forums over the web in several months.  There are many praises about PS, many questions... there used to be a hype... Now the most common phrase I see is "No sales yet".  There is ONE sale reported here by the photographer who took the pic, all the rest is vaporware.

In the end I wont be submitting any info to the US government at all...I dont like the idea at all.

If all those micros and even Alamy pay me all my money in full and I deal with my taxes in my country I dont see why I should deal with a cumbersome and absurd keywording process to then have to shell out 30% of my earnings to the US government for nothing in return. 


 

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