I am a non-US person and I have been receiving royalty payments from a US company since 2015.
In 2020 the US company started to collect W-8BEN forms from its authors (like me) and apply a withholding tax. In other words, the company will now withhold 30% from the amounts they pay me. Thankfully, my country of residence has a treaty with the USA so I will benefit from a 0% withholding rate.
So far, so good!
Now, the US company just asked me to fill in an "Affidavit of Unchanged Status - Retroactive Statement" which basically asks me to "hereby confirm that my residency was the same for years 2015-2019" as it is in 2020. I was actually a resident of another country back in 2015-2016 and that country did not have a tax treaty with USA which implies a standard 30% withholding rate.
Does that mean the US company will ask me to retroactively pay them 30% of the amounts I received back in 2015-2016? Or they have to pay it?
I wonder why the company did not start to collect W-8BEN forms in 2015 but now. I earned more back then.
Update: The company said they will not be retroactively withholding me any money. However, the question still remains - why they didn't start to withhold money back then, but now?