Sunday, March 23, 2014

Applying for your ITIN - US Individual Taxpayer Identification Number

Hi all, 

Over the last few years I’ve been fortunate enough to have my short stories published in various anthologies in both Ireland and the US, including my own collection, The Eleventh Hour. But as some of these anthologies were compiled for the love of writing I didn’t give much thought to the financial side of matters. Back in 2013 circumstances changed when Gentry Publishing, New York, offered me a contract for my first novel I, Vladimir.

So my journey began and in doing so I had to learn what an ITIN was, and obtain one from the United States Internal Revenue Service. Being a non-residential, non-US citizen, the thought of the IRS brought cold sweats and it was one of those tasks I was quite willing to put off. By August it was time to bite the bullet and get it done.

An ITIN stands for Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. It is a United States tax processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service for non-residential, non-US citizens, who are either employed or will be paid by a company registered in the United States.
If you are publishing through a US company, whether Traditional, Indie, or any of the self-publishing services, it would be in your best interest to obtain an ITIN. The reason being is by law, all companies have to withhold a percentage of your royalties for tax purposes (30%), and you could then also be liable for tax within your own country too. By registering with the IRS and obtaining an ITIN you become tax exempt in the United States as long as your citizenship and residential status remains unchanged.
Reading up on how to get an ITIN seemed very daunting, hence another reason I kept putting it off, but in the end I found it a lot more straight forward than I’d first imagined – so I’ll try and keep it simple…

Firstly – Letter.
You will need a signed headed letter from your publisher or agent stating that you have a contract with them. If you are self-publishing, Amazon have one on their site which you download and print off.   Here.

Secondly - Passport.

Ireland has an agreement with the US where you do not have to post your passport, all you need is a letter of authentication from your passport office. You take your passport along to your local passport office, for a charge (€40 approx) they photocopy it and hand you back the photocopy and a stamped letter confirming all the details are correct and that you are indeed whom you claim to be. If you are not an Irish citizen, check with your own passport office to see if there is an agreement in place, otherwise I think you have no option but to send your passport. But I have to say that all documents were returned to me safely.

Thirdly – Application Forms.
You can download the forms directly from the IRS website. There are two to look at, the first which I strongly recommend you read in full is the instruction guide 

 Instrustions For Form W - 7  and the second is the application itself Application Form W - 7 which to be honest is pretty straight forward. Like with all forms, just read through it carefully and take your time.

When you have all documents, do not send in part or incomplete, send by post to:

Department of Treasury,
Internal Revenue Service,
PO Box 149342
Austin, TX 78714-9342
United States of America. 

At the time of writing this all the information given was correct and what I personally had used. I obtained my ITIN on my first attempt, I have read of others that have taken three or more goes.
All I can say is take your time and make sure you have all the necessary documents and have filled everything in.

May I wish you all the best in your writing career and in your application for your ITIN,

Daniel Kaye x