So I was super confused about getting this very important thing called an EIN.
Actually, I was super confused about the difference between an EIN and ITIN. I’m still confused (only a little) but my basic understanding is that an ITIN is for an individual, and and EIN is for a business entity. I am an individual, yeah, but I read that and EIN is also acceptable because I am sort of running a publishing thing, which can be called an entity, even if I’m only publishing myself. And besides, I think obtaining an EIN is easier?
You need an EIN if you want to publish anything AND make money from it. On Amazon you don’t need an EIN, just the Tax Identification number of your country. In India, this would be your PAN number (the Permanent Account Number is a ten-digit alphanumeric number, issued in the form of a laminated card, by the Income Tax Department [courtesy Google]).
Since I was very eager to obtain any and all IDs available that recognised me as an adult when I turned 18, I had that sorted out already. Yes, I had an income tax Id without any income, but the card was nice and shiny.
Also, applying for the PAN is super easy. You can do it completely online!
Sooo yeah, back on topic now.
You need an EIN if you want to publish on Smashwords. Not if you want to publish books and mark the price as free, but for setting a price, you need it. So yeah.
I got my EIN in under 15 minutes, and it’s easy peasy!
I’m going to share this experience with anyone who’s confused about the process of applying, because I’m a nice person (really, I am!!)
So here’s what happened:
Three days ago, I did some research bout EIN, ITIN, form no blah blah blah blah, etc.
The IRS lines for international customers works from Monday to Friday, 6:00 am to 11:00 pm, Eastern time.
General consensus was that the earlier you call, the lesser your waiting time. So after consulting some time converting sites, I found out that 6 am Eastern time is 3 pm Indian standard time. That was cool.
So I called them up, only to be told that the IRS wasn’t working. Because it was a Sunday. Since I was on a two week holiday, my sense of date/day was completely skewed. So I cursed myself and lamented that 10 seconds of listening to an electronic voice cost me 8 rupees.
I put if off until today, because I was pretty busy the past two days.
I topped up my phone balance (I’m on a pay-as-you-go type of thing, a.k.a a prepaid connection, so I needed to make sure that I didn’t get cut off in the middle of the call. So I topped it up for around 200 rupees, so after the VAT and stuff it came to around 188 rupees or so). I ate some candy.
Then I called up +1 267 941 1099, at around 4.00 pm, IST
I got a mechanical voice asking to press 1 for English. My phone’s proximity sensor thingie is broken, so I couldn’t do that. I ended up having to pull out the battery to cut the call. That was 8 more rupees gone. I cursed myself again and ate more candy.
After transferring my SIM card to my mother’s phone, I called them up again. And I pressed 1 for English.
The second thing said 1 for EIN and 2 for ITIN. My amazing brain decided this was the time to forget all the research I’d done about ITIN and EIN, and made my finger press 2.
And then I was told to wait, and my estimated wait time would be around 4-7 minutes. Soft music played, interrupted every 30 seconds or so by a mechanical voice making announcements about the IRS services. After waiting 5 minutes, I finally decided I was an idiot and I hung up. 48 rupees. Gone.
I managed not to cry by stuffing my face with even more candy. (Cadbury eclairs, if anyone was wondering.)
ONCE AGAIN I called up the number, pressed 1 for English, and 1 again to obtain an EIN (like a good girl).
They put me on hold. I had a stopwatch application open, and I sweated nervously as the seconds ticked by with no response. Then finally a soft female voice spoke, like a choir of angels: “Hello.” She said a series of numbers in a calm and measured voice that I think was her employee ID or something? “How can I help you?”
Still eyeing the stopwatch, I heaved a sigh of relief, cuz it had been only 2 minutes or so. “I’d like to apply for an EIN, please?”
She asked me why. Actually, she said something that was a little too low for me to hear, so I said “sorry?” and she said, “why do you need the EIN?” I blabbered something about being an author and needing it for my Amazon’s and Smashwords’ tax information.
Then she asked me for my name. I spelled it out for her. My name is pretty long, so spelling it out was a little torturous. But we got through that.
Then she asked me if I had something like a trade name.
“Uhh… I write under a pen name, does that count?”
She said it did, so I told her my author name.
Then she said, “I’m sorry, but I have to put you on hold for a moment.”
I freaked. My stopwatch was running, and we were already at like, 4 minutes. I nervously sweated some more and started humming to myself, praying for her to return quickly. She returned after a minute and fifty seconds. Whew.
She apologised and I laughed a little in relief and graciously brushed it off (trufact). She asked me for the street address, which was EVEN MORE torturous than my full name because that shit is pretty long. The lady asked me “Are you sure all this is your street address?” And I said, “Yeah. Yeah, all of it. I’m sorry.” And she sort of laughed and said it was okay.
After spending three minutes or so on that, (my heart hammering away) we got to City, the state or province, Post code, and Country.
Then she asked me for my phone number, which I gave along with my country code.
She asked me a few other things, like did I have an American address or phone number, did I have any other employees, and one or two other things which now I’ve forgotten, but my answer to all of it was no. I didn’t have anyone in America, and I am the owner and the only person in this business.
Then she asked me when I started my business, which is actually when I first published my book. So I told her the publishing date.
And then, she repeated all of it, spelled it out, so I could make sure that all of it was correct. There were two spelling errors, and we changed those. She said “One moment…”
…and then the golden words: “I’m going to tell you your EIN, so please note it down and then say it back to me.”
I quickly wrote down my EIN in my diary, and recited it back to her.
“Very good,” she said. “Is there anything else I can help with?”
“No,” I breathed. It was done. I had that all-important EIN! “Thank you. Thank you so much!”
She sort of giggled. I don’t think she’d ever heard anyone anyone sound as grateful as I did, maybe. “Have a nice day.”
“You too,” I chirped, and cut the call.
And then? Dancing ensued. Not just any old happy dance. Oh no. This one was local, Chennai style. I might have scared my dog.
Then I ate more candy. So much more candy.
I got a message from my service provider: Last call was charged from Main Bal= 120.00 and duration: 00:14:32. Remaining main Bal= 4.730
That’s my first actual investment in my writing career! I guess I’l have to sell around… 2 books priced at $1.99 to recover that, won’t I?
Thank you for reading, and I hope all this rambling helps someone out there!