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I am neither a resident nor a citizen of the United States, but about twenty years ago, I did live and work there temporarily. I got a Social Security Number and paid income tax on my earnings from that job. Nowadays, as a non-resident, I occasionally do freelance writing jobs for American publishers. Each job comes with a fairly simple publication contract that says the publisher agrees to pay me $x in exchange for first publication rights to my work. The contracts always leave room for my signature, the date, and my SSN.

As a non-resident freelancer performing my work entirely outside of the US, am I actually required to provide my SSN on such a contract? As far as I know, my only tax liability on this income is in my country of residence, not in the US. Regardless whether or not I am required to provide my SSN, are there any benefits to doing so? If I am not required to provide my SSN but I choose to do so anyway, are there any disadvantages?

  • I think this is on-topic for money as there may be tax considerations, but you might get better answers on freelancing.stackexchange.com - let me know if you want us to migrate it. – Ganesh Sittampalam Feb 3 '17 at 13:31
  • Yes, I am wondering if there are any advantages or disadvantages in terms of income tax or social security benefits. Let's leave the question here for now. – Psychonaut Feb 3 '17 at 14:27
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In order for your employer to report that they have paid you, they need your SSN or EIN or ITIN. That is exactly what this ID numer is for. If you try to withhold it, you may make yourself unemployable.

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    The publishers are not my employers; they are my customers. They must buy articles from foreign writers all the time, and unlike me, most of them will not have SSNs or EINs. – Psychonaut Feb 3 '17 at 14:26
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    @Psychonaut But to contract with you, if they are paying more than $600, they have to file a 1099. – Nathan L Feb 3 '17 at 15:28
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    @Xalorous you should look up the 1099 rules. – Nathan L Feb 3 '17 at 19:24
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    Never-US payee would not qualify for an EIN; if they have a US tax obligation (which in this case is unclear) the number the IRS assigns is an ITIN (see form W-7 and instructions). – dave_thompson_085 Feb 4 '17 at 1:49
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    @dave_thompson_085: Good point re ITIN; added. – keshlam Feb 5 '17 at 3:24

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