Monday, 4 March 2013

ITIN application without sending passport

Just thought that I would post my experience so that it would help others in a similar situation.

The current regulations require that the ITIN application be submitted with original documents. In our three year old's case, this means his original passport, which the IRS can hang on to for up to 2 months. I found that pretty uncomfortable, so looked for options. One way is to get a photocopy attested by the issuing agency. This means the passport office of India - I thought the Indian consulate in San Francisco would help with that. Multiple calls to the consulate went unanswered. So I gave up on this route as well.

Finally discovered that tt is possible to do the ITIN application in person, without submitting the passport, at an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center. For a list of offices in California, see:
http://www.irs.gov/uac/Contact-My-Local-Office-in-California

I went to the San Jose office with our three year old on Friday. The dependent who is applying for an ITIN needs to be there in person - so you need to take your child/spouse along. The office starts at 8:30 am, I reached there by 9 am (had to hunt for a bit because the building was not numbered - look for the building undergoing some construction/repair work and enter from the side street). Got a token after waiting in the line for almost 45 minutes - and our number came up at around 3:45 pm. So expect to spend the day there - if you are going with a child, take lots of entertainment :) Luckily, you can go out regularly, so my son and I spent most of the day wandering about downtown San Jose.

One good thing - the center actually accepted my tax return itself, not just the ITIN application. So there is no need to send any documents to the Texas office.


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Friday, 1 March 2013

Celebrating the Chinese New Year @ Redwood City


Last weekend we went to the Lunar New year event, held in the Courthouse Square at Redwood City. It was a sunny morning, that complimented the beautiful Courthouse Square venue. A full days schedule was planned,  from 11 to 4, but we stayed only till 1 thanks to our 3 yo's nap schedule.

The show started with the traditional lion dance, with 3 lions - one red, one silver and one gold - a very regal and energetic dance. The San Mateo County museum had a free entrance as well that day, so we ventured in and saw first hand some Chinese crafts, were told our future per the Chinese zodiac, tried chopsticks and coloring a snake, 'cos its the year of the snake :). Very Kid friendly :)

We decided to see some of the exhibits too while we were there, and the Land of Opportunity was really nice.  An exhibit that celebrated the immigration stories and the diversity it as brought to the region, made all the more relevant by the vibrant lunar new year festivities going on outside. A moment of true appreciation for where we have come from and where we are going.

Back outside we sat in the sunny courtyard and had a sandwich lunch while watching acrobats from the Shaolin Culture Center. It never fails to amaze me how they manage to add in comedy to an acrobatic routine that's already so strenuous  It was fun, but the jaw clenching one was when a blind folded acrobat jumped through a hoop of fire... wheew!

Then we took a stroll through the makeshift booths all around the square and came away with a dragon garden ornament.  A fun and inexpensive weekend, as also an occasion to enjoy the richness that cultural diversity brings.


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