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Got a message from my bank today to update my account info so I went down to my local branch. When I got to the teller they gave me a form to fill out and one of the items was my Tax Identification Number (TIN) which I assume is my SSN.
I tried asking her what this is about and from what I can make out she seems to be saying that this is a new policy from Beijing and that all banks are now required to have this record on file.
Did anyone else get the same message? What would happen if I gave them a false number? How would the bank or the Chinese government verify if the number is accurate? Does anyone know what this is about?
If you are employed in China and have paid taxes properly (or had your employer do it on your behalf), you should have this Chinese TIN already.
Previously all taxpayers got a separate tax reference number every time their taxes were paid, but since 2015 this has been changing to a permanent number assigned to each taxpayer.
Chinese ID card holders use their ID number as TIN.
For foreigners who rely in their passport, the TIN is separately assigned by tax authorities during first tax payment. In some regions they use passport number as TIN.
But this obviously only applies to foreigners who are employed in China or otherwise have tax obligations here, subsequently being assigned the TIN by tax bureau.
If this does not apply to you, you need to explain to the teller that you don't have a Chinese TIN. Maybe they accept your passport number in that field.
Thanks @JanJal for shedding some light.
The form I was asked to fill out asks to list all jurisdiction in which I am a tax residence and the corresponding TIN. So the Chinese TIN part makes sense but I am worried about giving my SSN number but if I don't then my account will be frozen, according to them. Any suggestions?
Requiring information about tax residency in other countries of course helps tax authorities to track down and limit global tax avoidance and evasion.
In similar vein, one bank (that I hardly ever use) from my home country recently sent me a letter to China, asking to declare what countries I have tax obligations to. Owing specifically to tax agreements between my country, EU, and USA. USA wants to be sure foreign citizens do not owe taxes there, even if they have no presence in USA whatsoever.
I wouldn't worry and just fill the foreign information as well.
I assume you are from USA, and I don't know what bilateral tax or information sharing agreements USA and China have.
I do recall US citizens must pay taxes to their home country for foreign income over certain threshold, so if you make a lot of money in China, that may be of interest to US tax bureau.
China would happily extend the courtesy to it's citizens making money in USA, and therefore information sharing would benefit both.
Be aware China and the US share tax information, an "Agreement in Substance" using the FATCA (US law) protocol. Sharing your US SSN with China would facilitate US-China cooperation.
List of countries sharing tax info with the US:
All the foreign teachers at my university have received the bank text message and been told to go into the branch which set up their account and fill in the form (mentioned above). I was told the TIN number was simply my passport number.
Right, your Chinese TIN is your passport number, however, the form also requires you to list the TIN for your home country, in the case of US citizens, that would be your SSN which is what I am concerned about.
I am very weary of giving the Chinese banks my SSN.
I left that section blank, but largely because I'm British and I'm not aware of any UK TIN. However, the bank were fine with it being blank (for me).
Similar to TIN, UK has "Unique Taxpayer Reference", but not everyone has it.