aprile 21, 2011

Cornelia Grey and the adventure of the ITIN number

Hello, dear readers & authors :)

Since I'll soon be receiving my first royalties, I've had to embark in the much fabled quest of requesting an ITIN number for the dreaded W-8 Form of Doom. I'm an Italian living in the UK, which complicated matters a little.

Now, to request an ITIN, the author must send a filled W-7 form, a letter from the publisher and certified copies of passport or other ID. Here's how I tackled, rather clumsily, the matter.

• W-7 Form
Due to my utter lack of understanding of bureocratic anything, I was left staring at the thing with emptiness and despair in my eyes. But! I would invite you all to check the incredibly helpful tutorial Angela Stone posted here. I followed it and the dear man at the Embassy office gave the form his blessing, so it's officially approved :).

• Letter from publisher
My pulisher was very swift to send me a letter, which I took to the Embassy with me. Unfortunately, the dear man there told me that the wording was incorrect and that he was sure the application would be rejected. He was kind enough to write down for me what the letter should say, which I report here for you:


Please be advised that .... is entitled to receive US royalties that are subject to IRS reporting / whitholding requirements in 2011.


• Documents
There are a few choiches regarding which documents one can bring, and they're listed in the form instructions linked on Angela Stone's lj. The only stand-alone document is the passport; since I don't have one, I had to bring two documents instead. I brought my Italian ID and Italian driving licence. Since there was no way I would send the originals, I tried to figure out exactly what they mean by 'certified copies'. On the instructions there's an awfully complex paragraph in which they explain who and how can certify photocopies, mentioning notaries and appointments and making me sink in a feeling of impending doom. However, since a few reports I'd read said that it was enough to show up at the Embassy with the documents and they'd take care of the rest, I decided to give it a go and see what happened.

• Embassy
I live in London, so I decided to just pop at the IRS office with papers and documents and cry and ask them what the heck I was supposed to do with it all. Please note that while the Embassy is open all week, the IRS office is only open on tuesdays, wednesdays and thursdays from 9 am to 1 pm and from 2 pm to 4 pm (see their website page here).

It's not allowed to bring cellphones or MP3 readers or other electronic devices inside the Embassy, so a friend kindly agreed to meet me outside Bond Street station to collect mine before heading off to university (I had to skip the morning class). However, when I got in front of the Embassy, I noticed that some people were being sent off to deposit their phones and such in the lockers offered by some shop nearby, while others were being allowed to keep them in plastic sealable bags which, I believe, were then stored at the Embassy's security checkpoin. I'm a little confused regarding which criteria they were using.

Anyway, I settled in the cue for the Citizen Services, which was much longer than the one for Visas, at that (probably due to the impending tax season). Luckily it was a warm and sunny day, so waiting in the open was kind of pleasant. Then I was called in this little glass square construction where I went through airport-like security checks - ID check, X-rays for the bag and metal detector for me. Then I was buzzed through a door and inside the Embassy's gate, and instructed to walk around the building to the door on the left side.

Inside, there's an info desk with lots of signs saying that you have to get a number at the desk before proceeding, but when I asked, I was told I didn't need one for the IRS office and sent downstairs. I rang the bell for the IRS office and was let in, where a nice middle-aged man with a really pleasant southern drawl welcomed me at the desk.

So! He went through my form and confirmed it was ok, signed it and dated it. He told me that the letter from the publisher wasn't going to work and wrote down for me the correct wording. Then he took my documents, made a photocopy and stamped it, and that was it, with no need for notaries and whatnot. He signed and dated everything and handed it back to me, then instructed me to get a new letter from the publisher, add it to the pile and mail everything back to their office, where they would proceed to ship everything off to America for me. Gotta love the nice men at the desk ♥.

So now I've mailed everything back and am now anxiously waiting for the verdict from the tax gods.

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