Obtaining an ITIN, part 2

Obtaining an ITIN, part 2

A couple of months back we posted about obtaining an ITIN (international tax identification number).

Our ITINs came through today. As you can imagine, we are happy. It was relatively painless, which we didn’t expect, given that so many people posting on the internet seemed to have issues.

In part 1 we talked about why we needed it and how to get one.

This is what we needed:

  • A certified copy of our passport
  • The tax treaty paragraph number
  • An exception letter
  • W-7 form to fill out

A certified copy of our passport

We knew we needed an apostille, which is a specially certified copy of our passport. These are provided by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

We took our passports in to the closest passport office, queued up to organise the request, paid our money (A$60 each) and went back two days later to collect them.

Very easy, and painless.

The tax treaty paragraph number

This actually caused the biggest problem, and it was totally our own misunderstanding.

When you fill out the W7 form, and give the reason for applying for ITIN, you are asked to provide the treaty country and the treaty article number. For some reason we read that as being the ID of the treaty itself, and there are around three different document numbers quoted depending whether you go to the US site, Australia or other places on the internet. So we spent some time trying to work this out, and eventually even called the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to see if they could help us with what to put there. ATO called us back and walked us through the context of the question. Thanks ATO. 🙂

You are not looking for the treaty, you looking for the paragraph number inside the treaty that refers specifically to why you are requesting an ITIN. For us, that was paragraph 12, the paragraph that referred to copyrights.

Exception letter

We thought this would be the hardest, but it was actually the easiest. We asked the people at our agency about this, they asked Penguin and Penguin supplied a letter which had everything we needed.

Penguin was great, they supplied more than just the letter. They supplied instructions and links for the W-7 form, plus instructions and links for the W8-BEN. We could have worked out everything we needed to do from their email. No research required.

W-7 form

As I said, Penguin supplied a link to the latest form. All we had to do was fill it in.

Based on other people’s experiences, we were careful to:

  • Fill in every field we could, putting N/A where a question was not applicable
  • Not use abbreviations

And of course, the easiest mistake for anyone who normally writes their dates dd/mm/yyyy

  • Made sure we wrote the dates in mm/dd/yyyy format.

In the reason for submitting form W-7 we ticked reason a) and reason h).

Filling out the reason you're applying
The trickiest part on the W-7 form

 How long did it take?

The IRS said it would take 8-10 weeks to get the ITIN, and that was spot on. We sent our request mid-May, received it mid-July.

Where to from here

Now we have our ITIN, we can fill in the W-8-BEN.


Obtaining an ITIN, part 1

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