Adventures at the IRS

Since I signed my contract with Lyrical Press, I’ve been aware of the fact I have to get an IT1N number. This is a tax thing – it has to do with my being a non-US resident being paid by a US company.

I’ve been stressing about this for a while, as I was getting conflicting information about how to go about getting one. After a while, I came to the conclusion that the best way of applying, as I had no desire to send my passport off to America, was to take the completed form – and my passport – down to the IRS UK office at the American Embassy in London. But I couldn’t make an appointment – it’s a drop-in service. Suspecting I’d have to queue, I made arrangements to take a morning off work to do this. The American Embassy isn’t a long walk from the office, and I hoped I’d be done by lunch time.

I set off early this morning, with passport, birth certificate, completed form and publishing contract. This last was an afterthought, but it occurred to me they might want some evidence as to why I need an IT1N number. I’d also remembered to leave my mobile phone at home, having been forewarned that if you carry one you’re not allowed entry into the Embassy.

I arrived so early there was time for a coffee and breakfast muffin in Starbucks on Oxford Street, and I was still at the Embassy by 8:30am. I asked for the IRS Office. The polite security man told me they were closed until 9, and to please come back then. I expressed concern about wanting to get in the queue early. He said there would be no queue – the Embassy was closed today, but the IRS Office was open, and I would be able to walk straight in at 9am.

How to kill half an hour? I wondered. I’d just had coffee; I thought it would be unwise to have any more. There was probably a lack of public toilet facilities in the American Embassy. I decided to go back to Oxford Street to see if anything opened at 8:30. I got lost on the way – my sense of direction is pretty abysmal. On my wanderings, though, I passed a lot of very posh residences – you have to pretty well-to-do to afford property in London’s West End. I allowed myself a fantasy or two about being a successful enough writer to be able to buy a Georgian Town House in the fashionable part of London. With a private library.

Eventually I found my way back to Oxford Street, but as I suspected most shops were still closed. Boots was open, and I thought about buying toiletries while I waited, but I thought that if the American Embassy doesn’t like people entering the premises with mobile phones, they might be equally unhappy about small bottles filled with liquid or cream.

Returning back to the Embassy at the allocated time, I had to produce my passport, have my hand bag x-rayed, and walk through one of those body scanners they have at the airport.

But I must have passed all the tests because they let me in, and I found my way to the IRS Office, where a very nice American man helped me with my application. The passport was enough to prove evidence of my ‘foreign-ness’ and my identity, and the publishing contract sufficient evidence to provide a reason for my application (just as well I took it – things would have been rather more complicated had I not). The application was all done and dusted in 20 minutes, I was at my desk by 9:45 and didn’t need to take a morning off after all.

However, I apparently have to wait four months for my IT1N certificate to arrive in the post. But so relieved am I to have the application sorted, I don’t mind the wait.

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1 comment so far

  1. ralfast on

    But do you have to pay American income tax? That’s the real question.


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