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Hi and welcome to Just Answer!The issue is that withholding is generally required from income received by nonresident aliens.Since you do not expect any income - there is nothing you need to worry about withholding and you may not claim tax treaty benefits as such benefits are related to specific income types..Because you already have SSN - you should use that SSN for tax purposes - and may not apply for ITIN.
As a nonresident alien - you need to provide bank with form W8BEN - just specify the country of your residence - Italy and your SSN which is also used as a tax ID.As long as there is no income and you will use that account for personal transactions only - there should not be any issues.As you might know - there is a tax treaty in effect between the US and Italy.You may find official text here - http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/tax-policy/treaties/Documents/italy.pdfThe treaty provides some benefits compare to the regular tax laws of both countries.You may review for future information, but as long as there is NO income - the fact itself of having a bank account would not affect your tax liability.
In additional - not related to your bank account - if you are either a resident or a nonresident alien departing the United States, you will usually have to show that you have complied with the U.S. income tax laws before departing from the United States. You do this by obtaining a tax clearance document, commonly called a "Departure Permit" or "Sailing Permit" from the IRS.However - There are some categories of people not required to obtain a departure permit or sailing permit. In particular - alien students, industrial trainees, and exchange visitors, including their spouses and children, who enter on an F-1, F-2, H-3, H-4, J-1, J-2, or Q visa are not required. So - if your bank would ask to provide a tax clearance document - you may reply that as a person with J1 status - you are not required to have it.
Please let me know if you need any clarification or need any help with other tax related issues.
Hi Lev. Thank you very much for your thorough reply.
I'm going through the W8BEN right now, I have another quick question:
You will just explain your situation as you did in this question - attach a separate note that you were presented in the US on J1 visa and are living to fulfill your visa terms. As such you will be a nonresident alien and are planning to use the account for personal purposes.