Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The ITIN Story

An amazingly knowledgeable blogger, Catherine Ryan Howard , writes about many topics that all writers and authors should consider. A very important one, if you are not an American, is the ITIN. This number is a requirement for all non-American authors (who sell books in the US) to have, so that a percentage of your royalties are not withheld by your American publisher for tax. (Amounts differ, depending on what country you are a citizen of and what the treaty that the US may have with your country, says). Having gotten my own ITIN, I can vouch for the degree of difficulty that wading through the US tax system entails. However, Catherine has explained it in the most thorough, yet complete fashion here .

Do yourself a favor. Read it. Use the knowledge that she offers.

And just for a little icing on the cake, here's my story, too:

Once upon a time there was an author who had just a few pointers for those of you considering going to the US embassy for the required paperwork for the ITIN (and the following points are based on my experience with going to the US Embassy in Calgary, Canada, but I’m presuming that the US Embassies have some sort of standard protocol for all of them, no matter where).

1. You make an appointment online. Appointments are given in 15 minute time slots and you must have your appointment printed off and with you as proof.
2. There was no parking for blocks around ( I don’t mean all the spots were taken – I mean there was no parking allowed in the vicinity) so give yourself time to walk a few blocks.
3. There is an armed guard standing at the door to the glass walled admitting/intake office. You must leave all electronics outside this office with someone( ie. car command start, keys, iPod, and purse, although you can take your wallet with ID and cards with you etc). The guard suggested I leave mine with my “traveling partner”, but I didn’t have one. My other 2 options were to a) rent a lock box on another floor and at the other end of the building, or b) leave said items with the cashier of the Korean fast food place across the hall, (who was waving at me in a cheerful, uh, welcoming sort of way….) and who, for $5.00, would look after them until my return. I paid the friendly cashier the $5.00 …
4. You will be required to put your shoes and wallet through the xray machine and step through a scanner yourself, just like at an airport.
5. I had been told over the phone by one IRS agent that I would need a color copy of my passport notarized by the US embassy. On a double-check phone call, the 2nd agent said “No, your passport must be notarized as a true copy by the ISSUING office ( ie. Canadian passport office), NOT the embassy. Huh? What was I doing at the Embassy then?? To cover all bases, since I had the appointment and had taken the day off to get there, (remember, this was all just to prove I was a Canadian citizen because Canada has a treaty with the US regarding taxes on royalties) I had the US Embassy notarize color copies of my birth certificate, my photo driver’s license, my marriage certificate (yup, had to justify different surname on driver’s license vs. birth certificate), AND my health card, and then went to the Passport office for their notarization of my passport copy ( which THEY make there; don’t even try to bring a copy that you have printed off at home).
Passport Office wanted me to come back in a week to pick up the notarized copy. I explained my distance (11 hour round trip), and asked, in a rather distressed voice that, by this time, was not put on whatsoever, “Really? How long does it take to sign and stamp a piece of paper?” I batted my eyelashes and let a tear slide down my cheek.

I was then told that I could come back in 4 hours to pick it up. And I did.

Oh yeah, and my new cashier friend had all of my personal belongings waiting for me, as promised, when I finished with the collecting of all of the required copies.

 I sent all copies to the IRS office along with the completed W8BEN form, and received my coveted ITIN  several weeks later.

The End :-)

No comments:

Post a Comment