Despite having written for three American publishers over six years, it's only now that all of them want an ITIN from me. Don't ask me what it stands for, something to do with a tax treaty, but basically without it the American IRS gets 30% of my royalties before they're even sent to me--whereupon HMRC will take a further 20% but, and here's my favourite part, they won't tax the remaining 70% the IRS have left me, they'll tax the whole 100%, even though I don't have it!
There is an evil genius at work behind all this.
Therefore, I'm off to the US Embassy in London tomorrow with all the personal documentation that's ever been issued to me by the government and my publishers, clutching various forms which I understand about as well as I understand Sanskrit, to get this precious number, which I believe will allow me to fill out another form (joy!) which means...oh, I've lost track. Suffice it to say that the IRS really wants its 30%, so they make this process as unfathomable as possible. There are no official instructions (well there are, but see above re: Sanskrit), so I've been relying on those wonderful informants, Hearsay and What My Friend Said (with particular thanks to Scarlett Parrish and Angela Stone for their very concise guides on filling out the initial form). The details of what the IRS needs from me, and what I'm allowed to take in with me to the Embassy, and where I can leave the stuff I'm not allowed to take in, have been different from every person I've spoken to.
But anyway, we'll see how things go tomorrow. If I've got it all wrong, at least hopefully they'll be able to tell me what I do need at the Embassy, and I can try again next time I have a spare £20 for the train fare and a few hours to waste travelling to London and back.
I'll leave you with this thought on the subject of tax from The UnTied Kingdom:
A body could hide from the law, from the army and maybe even from God, but Harker knew no one could hide from the taxman.