Getting paid from the US

The book is out, but I still have a hurdle to clear before I can see any royalties. This one is the US Government, which requires me to wade through a mountain of obscure documents (thanks to my publisher for helping steer me there) and complete a form (ditto) in order to be paid royalties. Comes of having an american publisher:-(

Specifically, the publisher needs a US taxpayer number to pay me. But I’m not a US taxpayer. I’m not even eligible to be a US taxpayer. So instead, I need something called an ITIN, which involves filling a form W-7. And that form has a subtext:

You’re a scumbag perpetrating a fraud on us. We know you’re really just a stooge for someone who wants to hide money from us (though you don’t have permission to live or work in America). Taxation treaty? What taxation treaty? All your money are belong to us!

Anyway, I need to submit my passport with the form. The original [shudder], or a notarised copy.

Notarised? Yep, that means going to a Notary Public, who then signs that he’s seen me with the original passport, and it’s genuine, and it’s me. Today I went to a notary for that. Seems the underlying premise is that Notary == someone we grudgingly trust, because there’s no way we trust a scumbag like you. Yeah, great. A nice little earner for the Notary, and a PITA for anyone needing to use one.

Once upon a time, any professional person might normally have seen as trustworthy: it was the natural authority of those in the educated classes. Interesting that a country seen as having so much less of a class system than us should nevertheless have classism so ferociously enshrined into its law.

In fairness, the notary told me that notaries are ten-a-penny in America, so finding and going to one doesn’t seem such a big deal to an American.

Posted on February 23, 2007, in books, international, rants, red tape, USA. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Yeah, in any particular company over a certain size in the US it’s reasonably likely that there’s someone who’s a notary, since it’s useful to have one around. Failing that, they are still generally very easy to find.

  2. I’ve had to find a notary three times in the US.

    The first time it turned out that an in-law was one (she was an office manager in the day).

    The second time it turned out that our office manager was one.

    The third time there was no one available – but it turned out that it’s common for the bank to have one. So we went along to the bank.

    Having to do this made me grumble at first, but then I remembered the number of times I’ve had to find ‘a respected member of society’ in the UK who has known me for 2 years (or is it 5). Even for my recent passport renewal I was meant to find a respected British citizen (read someone doing a public service job, such as a doctor, teacher, governer of a school etc) who had known me for the last N years and could attest to my character.

    That’s pretty hard to find when you’ve lived in the US for the last N years. Given this – they will accept an American (if they have to). That’s still pretty crappy when you look at the people I’m likely to know and it’s a struggle [even more so when I’d moved in the last year and knew no one in the current town beyond my new work colleagues].

    So… completely understood on the notary. The UK does it too.

  3. Henri, agreed, US Bureaucracy is a PITA, but that doesn’t make it worse than UK, or indeed AN Other country. And a Notary is indeed better-defined than a “respected member of society” (hmm, I respect my dad on a good day, and he’s a retired lecturer). The advantage of the UK system is, in this instance, ยฃ64 (a hundred and twenty something dollars to you).

    What annoys me about this particular form-filling is that I really don’t see why it’s necessary *at all*. There’s no comparable crap involved in accepting payments to my company from American clients.

  4. If you think this is perverse – my son recently ventured to Wisconsin to an indoor (town park district owned and managed) paintball arena. In order to play, he needed parental permission.

    Things being what they are with liabilities here in the states, the management insists on a *notarized* permission slip/waiver of liability. That got me – with an hour before he was to leave I did what every sane American does – I ran to my local bank before they closed ๐Ÿ™‚

  1. Pingback: Grrr « niq’s soapbox

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  5. Pingback: Hard work gets tax refund! « niq’s soapbox

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