Sunday, August 4, 2019

How to Easily Get a New or Renewed ITIN in Las Vegas

Need to renew your ITIN? Don't want to mail your passport? You can get your renewal processed at the IRS office in downtown Las Vegas - in one visit.

First of all, what's an ITIN and why do I need one?

An ITIN is an International Tax Identifier Number, issued by the United States IRS.

As an international visitor to Las Vegas (or any American casino), if you hit a jackpot over $1200, you might be subject to 30% of the dough being withheld for taxes.

If you are a citizen of the UK, congratulations, you have a tax treaty with the US and you won't have any tax held back - but you'll need an ITIN to prevent it.

If you are a citizen of Canada, you are actually subject to paying the tax. With an ITIN, though, there's a way around that.

When you win your huge jackpot, and they take their 30% skim, you must be certain that your ITIN appears on the 1040-S form that the casino will fill out and give you along with your (reduced) winnings.

When your year is done, if your gambling losses exceed your winnings, you can claim back the amount withheld by filing a tax return - a 1040NR, to be exact. But you have to have an ITIN to file.

That whole subject can get quite complex - I'm just going to deal with the ITIN renewal here.

How to get an ITIN

There are three ways to get an ITIN:

  • apply by mail, sending your precious passport to the Austin service center
  • visit a Certifying Accepting Agent and get it done in person
  • visit an IRS office that supports ITIN services

I'm not keen on sending my precious ID anywhere.

About the second option - the Certifying Accepting Agent. These are third-party agents that are certified to issue and renew ITINs. In fact, the larger casinos in Vegas used to provide this service right on site. I don't know if this is still the case.

There are Agents other countries (including Canada) that can do it - for a big-ass fee.

My understanding is that the Agent verifies your ID, and provides certified copies of same to the IRS along with the W7 form.

By far and away, the quickest and simplest way to get your ITIN in Vegas is to do it in person at the IRS office.

The Quad Queen's and my ITIN expired Jan 1, 2019. There just happens to be an IRS office within walking distance of Main Street Station (just the other side of the railroad tracks).

Main Street Station provides a convenient waiting room aka casino for you to pass the time in until your appointment is nigh. Then you simply exit MSS, hang a right at Main and Ogden, and walk under the underpass.

Walking from Main Street Station to the IRS office
But you have to make an appointment to do your renewal in advance. Here's how.

The toll free number given to make appointments is 844-545-5640 - this number is for all IRS offices, though. And guess what, the number can't be reached from Canada.

The Las Vegas IRS office number is 702-868-5005 - but all you get is a recording telling you to call the other number.

The next option you might explore is the International direct number 267-941-1000.

But, in the end, I used the Phone calls facility of my gmail account to call the toll free number and it works! There is a little button down there on the left hand side that looks like a phone. Yeah, that's the one.

ITIN renewals in Vegas are done on Tuesdays and Thursdays. When you call for an appointment, you'll need:

  • Your name
  • Your expired/expiring ITIN, if you have one

We got appointments that coincided with our March Vegas trip. Prior to leaving, we prepared the W7 forms needed for ITIN renewal.

Get your W7 form here.

When you go in the IRS office, you have to put everything through an airport-style scanner, and get wanded yourself. It's not as much fun as it sounds.

You must turn off your cell phone radio/wifi - airplane mode. You are not allowed to take photos. You go into a little waiting room and get a number.

When your number is called, you go and see the IRS agent in her little cubicle. We explained to the agent what we were doing and presented the filled out ITIN renewal forms that we'd signed and dated and checked 8M times before the appointment.

After about 10 minutes of fucking around on the IRS computer (Tetris, no doubt) the agent explained that she was going to take our precious ID (can't remember if it was just passport, or if it was passport and DL or Nexus as well) back to someone named Agent Blahblahintheback. She would leave the passports with Agent B. and we would wait in the waiting area until summoned.

It would take 10 to 20 minutes.

We did as we were told and after 15 minutes were summoned back to the cubicle. Our passports were returned. Mine had a bit of peanut butter and jam on it but other than that they were none the worse for wear. (Skippy smooth, not crunchy, in my taste tests.)

Agent Cubicle explained what would happen next. Our paperwork would go into the pile in Austin. We might get a letter from them saying that our paperwork was received and would be evaluated.

The 'heads up' letters from Austin never arrived. It took a couple of months, but the next thing we got from the IRS was sweet, sweet letters confirming that our ITINs have been renewed! Our numbers didn't change, either, which is cool.

So now we're good to go and win some jackpots and still have a shot at getting that 30% tax withheld back - for future gambling use, of course!

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