How to file for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service
Please Note: In order for TurboSquid to properly make payments to a foreign entity, we must have on file an IRS Form W-8BEN. As part of the W-8BEN filing, an individual applicant will be asked for a Taxpayer Identification Number, such as an ITIN. This number is required in order to allow TurboSquid to establish the proper tax withholding rate for a foreign individual resident in a country with which the United States has a tax treaty that outlines a withholding rate that is less than the statutorily governed 30%.
First of all, you will not need an ITIN if you have, ever have had or are eligible for a U.S. Social Security Number (SSN). There are several possible ways in which a non-resident alien (NRA) may have received or be eligible for a U.S. SSN, including:
If you were ever issued a valid employment authorization through the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).
If you have ever resided in the United States as a student under a valid F1/J1/Q1/M1 Visa (the standard visas issued to students, teachers, researchers, and scholars, respectively)
If you do not have, or are not qualified for a U.S. Social Security Number, here are the steps you must follow in order to apply for an ITIN:
First of all, you must have proper documentation. If you can provide an original, valid (current) passport or a notarized or certified copy of your passport, that will be sufficient documentation for obtaining an ITIN. We have provided details on obtaining an acceptable notarized or certified copy of your passport below.
Download a W-7 form, which includes the instructions for filling out that form.
On the W-7 form, under "Reason for Application", check box "a". Also, check box "h", and write in "Exception 1" in the blank space beside the box (this allows you to submit the form without also submitting a tax return). You also need to indicate the tax treaty country of which you are a resident and write that country's name next to Box h. You should also reference the tax treaty article that you believe governs the payments being made to you. Click here for a matrix of countries and the tax treaty articles that govern "royalties – other" which TurboSquid believes is the correct characterization of the payments being made to you. If you agree with this characterization, put the relevant treaty article number where indicated next to Box h.
Completely fill in the "Personal Information" section of the form, ensuring that the information you write matches exactly with the information on the "supporting documents" that you are submitting along with your application. Details on this issue can be found below.
It is very important that you fill in all line items completely, as the IRS will reject any ITIN requests based on incomplete forms. For a guide to avoiding common mistakes, see below.
Sign your completed form W-7. However, if the seller is under 14 years of age, a delegate (parent or court-appointed guardian) can sign for him or her. Details on signing for minors can be found below.
Submit your completed W-7 form, along with your supporting documentation, in one of three ways, described in detail below: by mail, in person, or through an IRS acceptance agent.
Obtaining a notarized or certified copy of your passport.
If you submit a copy of your passport, it must be either certified by the original issuing agency or official custodian of the original record; or, you may submit a notarized copy of your passport. You may obtain a certified copy of your passport through the government agency in the country of issuance or you may have a copy of your passport notarized by a U.S. Notary Public legally authorized to provide such certification in his jurisdiction. In order to do this, a Notary Public would have to see the original, unaltered passport and verify that the copy conforms to the original. Overseas U.S. notaries public are available at U.S. embassies and consulates around the world. There is a fee of USD $30.00 for this service. Click here for additional help.
If you are submitting multiple documents
As an alternative to providing original/certified copy/notarized copy of your passport, you may also submit any two of the following documents, also in either original or certified/notarized form:
National identification card (must show photo, name, current address, date of birth, and expiration date).
U.S. driver's license.
Civil birth certificate.
Foreign driver's license.
U.S. state identification card.
Foreign voter's registration card.
U.S. military identification card.
Foreign military identification card.
U.S. visa issued by the U.S. Department of State.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) photo identification.
*These documents are only valid for dependents under age 14 (under age 18 if a student) and can be used to establish foreign status only if they are foreign documents.
The process by which copies of the above documents can be certified or notarized is the same as that outlined in the section above dealing with copies of passports.
Please note: Based on the IRS's instructions, we believe that the above documentation covers the IRS's requirements. However, our advisors have suggested that applicants may also be required to include documentation attesting to their status as a vendor on our website, and confirming that you are applying for an ITIN to qualify for tax treaty benefits to which you are entitled. If you wish to include a letter of this kind (and we recommend that you do), please contact us and we will provide a personalized letter that you can print out and include with your application.
Filling in the "Personal Information" section
Completely fill in the personal information section of the form, making sure that the information provided on the form exactly matches the information contained in the required documentation that you are required to submit. For example, if your passport is issued to you using your first, middle, and last name, you must fill in the same information, in the same way, on the application.
Explanation for creating an "Exception 1" under "Reason for Application"
IRS instructions indicate that the Form W-7 should be submitted as an attachment to a tax return you are filing with the IRS. This is NOT required for those persons making an application for an ITIN for the purpose of qualifying for Tax Treaty benefits. By checking Box a and Box h, you are confirming that you are seeking Tax Treaty Benefits. Remember to include the exemption number, treaty country and tax treaty article here as well.
Potential Problems in Filling in Your W-7 Form
There are certain areas where the W-7 form can become confusing. We have tried below to address some of the most common areas of difficulty.
In completing the form, it is most important that you fill in all line items completely. Incomplete forms will cause the request for an ITIN to be rejected by the IRS. Specifically, you must enter your complete foreign address in the country where you permanently or normally reside if it is different from the address on line 2. If you no longer have a permanent residence, due to your relocation into the United States, enter only the foreign country where you last resided on line 3. If you are claiming a benefit under an income tax treaty with the United States, line 3 must show the treaty country.
In addition, if your country of residence for tax purposes has issued you a tax identification number, enter that number on line 6b. For example, if you are a resident of Canada, enter your Canadian Social Insurance Number. Furthermore, you must check the box indicating the type of document(s) you are submitting for identification. You must submit documents as explained in item (3) under How to Apply on page 2. Enter the name of the state or country or other issuer, the identification number (if any) appearing on the document(s), the expiration date, and the date on which you entered the United States. Dates must be entered in the month/day/year format.
Parent or Guardian Signing for Minor
If the applicant is a minor under 14 years of age, a delegate (parent or court-appointed guardian) can sign for him or her. In these cases, the parent or guardian should type or print the delegate's name in the space provided, and check the appropriate box that indicates his or her relationship to the applicant. If the delegate is signing as a court-appointed guardian, attach a copy of the court-appointment papers showing the legal guardianship.
Submitting your ITIN application by mail
Your completed application and required documentation should be sent to the following address:
Internal Revenue Service ITIN Operation P.O. Box 149342 Austin, TX 78714-9342 USA
In the event you submit your application by mail, your original documents will be returned to you within 60 days and you do NOT need to provide a return envelope. Copied documents will not be returned to you. To avoid loss of original documents, the IRS suggests that certified copies should be used when submitting via mail. In the event you do submit original documents and they have not been returned to you within the 60 day period, you can contact the IRS to research the delay at 1-800-829-1040 if you are in the United States. If you are outside the United States, you can contact the IRS's overseas offices in Frankfurt, London, or Paris.
Submitting your ITIN application in person
This can be done by bringing your package of documents to any IRS Assistance Center in the United States or most such centers located abroad. Click here to see a list of these offices in the United States. Click here to see a listing of Assistance Centers located overseas.
Submitting your ITIN application through an IRS Acceptance Agent
You can also make application through an Acceptance Agent authorized for such purposes by the IRS. An IRS Acceptance Agent can help you complete and file the Form W-7 with the IRS. Click here to see a list of IRS Acceptance Agents.