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London Trip to the IRS for an ITIN

September 15, 2013

One thing you have to think about as a British author is that if you e-publish on Amazon or Smashwords, you are liable for US tax unless you apply for an ITIN.  When you publish, these American companies will inform you of your tax liability but for a Brit it can be somewaht confusing.  Let me help.  You need to print off and sign a letter from the companies you are working with first.  This will be available on their websites.  You then need to fill in a W-8BEN (Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Witholding) with each company and fill out a W-7, which is an application for an IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.  With this you need to verify your identity with a passport, which you either send off with the completed W-7 and company letters to the IRS in Texas or take in person to an IRS tax office which is authorised to do this.  Fortunately we have one in London.  This is in the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square and is only open for walk ins on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.  I tried phoning for further advice but never got an answer, so I’d forget that and just hop on a train or bus to London.

While my family were busy Boris Biking in Hyde Park, I took my documents (sans anything electronic like a phone, camera etc) and went through their airline security procedures, past the British police armed with submachine guns and into the Embassy.  I thought it might take forever, but in the end it only took about ten minutes.  The lady behind the counter took my documents and photocopied my passport and said it would take between 6 and 10 weeks to get my ITIN sent to me.  Everyone was very efficient and polite.

I came out and sat on a bench to wait for the family to return; had a conversation with a limping pigeon, avoided the Syria protestors, watched the security patrols and noted a character study for a public school chap who hovered close by where I was sitting for about half an hours, texting on his phone and eventually taking his Macbook out of a battered brown leather briefcase.  It all seemed very 007, but he wasn’t exactly hiding his communicating.  I was curious and entertained myself conjuring scenarios for why he was there.

When the family eventually returned, we went for a light lunch in a local bistro and then went for a brief shop in Oxford Street before hot-footing it to the Zoo for daughter to commune with the sloths.  All in all it was a very agreeable day, despite the trip costing more than my current royalties.  I guess it’s only the HMRC I have to worry about now!


From → Shades Posts

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