Ron Taylor is a filmmaker, but in the last few years, he turned his passion for film into ebooks. Ron is the author of “How to Shoot and Edit Your Home Movies Like a Pro”. The ebook includes more than 40 how-to video clips and is available on the Apple iBooks store. But Ron is not a U.S. citizen, and he found out he had to get a U.S. tax ID, called an ITIN, to sell on the iBooks store.
Ron first decided to start publishing in 2013 when he launched an Arts magazine, “Chameleon,” for iPads and Kindles. But Ron ran into a small barrier. Ron lives in the UK, and the Apple iBooks store requires that all publishers have a U.S. tax number.
All U.S. citizens have a social security number (SSN). It’s a number issued by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Although it was originally intended to track individuals for social security purposes, it has become like an identity number. Its use in the U.S. has since evolved, and now one of its purposes is for taxation. Yep, that nasty word, taxes.
So, why do you need one if you are not a U.S. citizen and you just want to sell ebooks on Apple’s iBooks store?
In the U.S., books and ebooks are taxable products. And while non-U.S. citizens are not required to pay taxes, they are required to pay taxes on anything they sell in the U.S.
Fortunately, Apple takes care of the paying taxes part, but you still need a tax number to sell on the iBooks store.
How did Ron cross that stumbling block? He applied for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). Here’s Ron’s story, in his own words, along with some advice for how you can get your own ITIN, or U.S. tax number, if you are not a U.S. citizen.
ITIN for Apple’s iBooks store
If you plan to publish and sell your ebooks through Apple’s iBooks store then you are going to need a U.S. tax account. For non-U.S. citizens, or if you do not live or work in the U.S., you need an ITIN.
Apple and the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) do not allow you to trade in the U.S. without a valid tax number, even if you are a one-man band.
Of course, if you only plan to release free books via Apple’s iBooks store, you do not need a tax number. But if you intend to sell, you will need to register with the U.S. tax authorities and obtain an ITIN. This is so that any profits you make on U.S. sales will be taxed.
What is an ITIN?
According to the IRS website, “IRS issues ITINs to individuals who are required to have a U.S. taxpayer identification number but who do not have, and are not eligible to obtain, a Social Security Number (SSN) from the Social Security Administration (SSA).”
“ITINs are for federal tax reporting only, and are not intended to serve any other purpose. IRS issues ITINs to help individuals comply with the U.S. tax laws, and to provide a means to efficiently process and account for tax returns and payments for those not eligible for Social Security Numbers (SSNs).”
How to get an ITIN
I recall that I had to send my passport to the U.S. Embassy in London to receive an ITIN, but the IRS no longer has a tax advice office in the UK. However, you can still phone them for a recorded help message.
U.S. Embassy, London: 020 – 7499 – 9000
You can also get all the latest information and register by calling the IRS direct.
U.S. IRS: 001-267-941-1000
Useful advice for getting an ITIN
It is best to call the IRS first thing in the morning (U.S. time). You will find they answer quickly. When I registered, they were very efficient in processing my details. It was all done in about 10 minutes.
If you don’t phone within the first hour of them opening, you could be in for a long wait.
You can also get help from the IRS website:
More about Ron
Ron Taylor is a producer and writer. He worked for BBC Television, London, from 1977-92 as a film editor. He also directed for the BBC. Programme departments he worked for were: documentaries, drama, music, arts and current affairs.
During the 1990s he edited documentaries for Channel Four and started his own production company. Corporate clients have included The Royal Opera House, EMAP Metro, The Corporation of London (film shown at the World Cup in Japan) and a co-production with Hulton-Getty about the Hollywood photographer Slim Aarons.
Ron is currently pitching and raising funds for “Tom Liston,” a feature film set in the 1850s. He also has a novel, “Dr. Zeno’s Pigs” to finish sometime in 2017.
Download the official ITIN application form here.
You can find Frequently Asked Questions about the ITIN on the IRS website.
Thanks, Ron, for sharing how non-U.S. citizens can get an ITIN for selling on the Apple iBooks store.
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