Those who are required to get an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) will need to fill out, “Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.” You can then mail it to the IRS at the address shown in the instructions, submit it to a walk-in IRS office, or bring it to an authorized acceptance agent for processing. In most cases, you will also have to submit a U.S. federal tax return with Form W-7.
An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is a tax processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). An ITIN is required for certain nonresident and resident aliens, their spouses, and dependents who are not eligible for a Social Security number (which is issued by the Social Security Administration) but need to file taxes.
Read on to find out how to get an ITIN number, what the purpose of an ITIN number is, and if you’re required to get one.
Do you need an ITIN?
Let’s start by determining whether you fall under one of the categories of taxpayers who need to apply for an ITIN. You will need to get an ITIN if you do not have a Social Security number (SSN), you are not eligible to get one, and you meet the following additional criteria:
- You are required to provide a federal tax identification number or file a federal return.
- You fall into one of the following categories:
- Nonresident alien who is required to file a U.S. tax return
- U.S. resident alien who is filing a U.S. tax return
- Dependent or spouse of a U.S. citizen or resident alien
- Dependent or spouse of a nonresident alien visa holder
- Nonresident alien claiming a tax treaty benefit
- Nonresident alien student, professor, or researcher filing a U.S. tax return or claiming an exception
Kari Brummond, Accountant and Content Strategist at TaxCure LLC, outlines a few scenarios in which you would need to apply for an ITIN:
“For example, say that you’re not a United States citizen and you don’t live in the United States, but you own property in the United States, and you need to report your rental income. For that, you need an ITIN to file your tax return. Or say that you’re a nonresident alien student who needs to file a U.S. tax return, but you aren’t eligible for a Social Security number. Then you will also need to obtain an ITIN.”
If you’re unsure about whether you should file an ITIN application, you can use the IRS’s Interactive Tax Assistant to help you determine if you need to or not. You can also go to an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center in your area that can answer your questions about ITINs and the tax laws that apply to you.
How to get an ITIN number
Once you have determined that you must apply for an ITIN to file taxes, you’ll need to fill out IRS Form W-7, “Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.” Along with your ITIN application, you will need to provide documents proving your identity and nationality, says Brummond. Acceptable forms of identity and foreign status documentation include the following:
- National identification card (must show photo, name, current address, date of birth, and expiration date)
- U.S. driver’s license
- Civil birth certificate (required for dependents under 18 years of age)
- Foreign driver’s license
- U.S. state identification card
- Foreign voter’s registration card
- U.S. military identification card
- Foreign military identification card
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) photo identification
- Medical records (for dependents under age 6)
- School records (for dependents under age 14, or under 18 if a student)
As Brummond explains, “You must provide the IRS with original copies of the above documents or certified copies issued by the entity that issues the originals. The documents must have an expiration date. If the document is normally issued without an expiration date, it must have been issued in the last six months.”
How to submit your ITIN application
Once you complete IRS Form W-7 — including the supporting certified or original documents proving your identity and nationality, plus your tax returns — you can mail it to the IRS at the following address:
P.O. Box 149342
Austin, TX 78714-9342
Once your ITIN application has been received and approved, the IRS will return your original documents to you by mail. You don’t need to supply a return envelope to get your documents back. However, if you want your documents returned more quickly and securely than by the U.S. Postal Service, you can enclose a prepaid express mail envelope and the IRS will use that to return your paperwork.
As of 2023, you cannot electronically submit your ITIN application or ITIN renewal form along with your tax returns online. You must either send it to the above address or go to a designated IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC). You can also go through one of the two types of acceptance agents authorized by the IRS:
- Acceptance Agent (AA): Acceptance agents are organizations — such as colleges, financial institutions, and accounting firms — who are authorized to assist ITIN applicants by reviewing and submitting their applications and supporting documentation (which will be returned to the applicant by mail).
- Certified Acceptance Agent (CAA): Certified acceptance agents serve pretty much the same functions as AAs, but they can also verify original documentation or certified copies of documentation from the issuing agency for primary and secondary applicants and their dependents. Because of this, the CAA will be able to return your documentation to you immediately after reviewing its authenticity. In addition, taxpayers residing outside of the United States can also apply for an ITIN through a CAA.
How long does it take to get an ITIN number?
You should receive a letter from the IRS assigning you a tax identification number within seven weeks from completion of the ITIN application process. However, it could take a little longer depending on when you filled out Form W-7 and sent it in with your supporting documents, says Brummond.
“Generally, you will get your ITIN within seven weeks of applying. However, if you apply during tax season (mid-February to late April), you should expect to wait about 11 weeks.”
It can also take longer to process your ITIN application if you are applying from overseas. If you don’t receive your ITIN number by mail within 60 days, you should call the IRS at 800-829-1040 if you’re in the United States. If you’re outside of the U.S., you can call 267-941-1000 (which is not a toll-free number) for assistance.
Tax benefits of the ITIN program
There are certain tax credits that ITIN users can take advantage of, although it should be noted that taxpayers using an ITIN to file taxes do not qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit. You may, however, be able to claim the Child Tax Credit if you meet other reporting requirements specified by the IRS. The following are other tax credits you may qualify for with an ITIN, as well as the supporting forms you’ll need to submit to the IRS to claim benefits:
American opportunity tax credit (AOTC)
If Form W-7 is submitted to claim the AOTC, then an attached tax return and Form 8863 that list the applicant are required. Dependent applicants must be qualifying children or qualifying relatives of the taxpayer who claims the AOTC.
Premium tax credit (PTC)
If Form W-7 is submitted to claim the PTC, then an attached tax return that lists the applicant and Form 8962 are required.
Child and dependent care credit (CDCC)
If Form W-7 is submitted to claim the CDCC, then an attached tax return and Form 2441 that list the applicant as a qualifying person are required.
Credit for other dependents (ODC)
If Form W-7 is submitted to claim the ODC, the applicant must be listed on an attached tax return with the “Credit for other dependents” box checked next to their name. Dependent applicants must be your qualifying children or qualifying relatives who are U.S. residents or U.S. nationals. See Schedule 8812 (Form 1040) and its instructions for more information.
Does an ITIN function the same as a Social Security number?
“An ITIN is not the same as an SSN. While both are tax identification numbers, there are some differences,” explains Ben Waterman, co-founder and COO at Strabo. “An ITIN is issued by the IRS for tax purposes, whereas an SSN is issued by the Social Security Administration for various government benefits and identification purposes. ITINs are specifically for individuals who are not eligible for an SSN, whereas SSNs are generally issued to U.S. citizens and authorized non-citizens.”
Can I receive a tax refund if I’m an ITIN holder?
If you are filing a a federal income tax return using an ITIN number, you may qualify to receive a tax refund. There is no guarantee you will — just as there isn’t for any U.S. citizen — but foreign nationals with ITIN numbers are eligible for some of the same tax credits as citizens, which could result in a tax refund.
Can I open a bank account with an ITIN?
In general, an individual tax identification number is only required if you have foreign status and need to file tax returns or have other tax-related purposes. However, they can sometimes be presented as an additional form of identification in lieu of a Social Security number (SSN) when you open a bank account or apply for a personal loan or credit card. Many financial institutions will also accept other forms of identification — such a passport, military ID, or national identification card — to open a bank account.
- An individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) is a tax processing number issued by the IRS for those who don’t have and are not eligible to receive a Social Security number from the Social Security Administration.
- The IRS issues ITINs to certain taxpayers who are nonresident and resident aliens, as well as their spouses and dependents who may have a tax filing requirement or other federal tax reporting requirements.
- Foreign nationals seeking an ITIN number need to fill out and send in Form W-7, including original or certified copies of supporting documents proving their identity and nationality.
- Unless you qualify for an exception, you will most likely need to send in your federal income tax return along with your original application or ITIN renewal; otherwise, you risk delaying your tax refund, if applicable.
- While there are certain tax benefits for ITIN holders, they are not eligible to receive the Earned Income Tax Credit.
View Article Sources
- Individual Taxpayer Identification Number – IRS.gov
- Form W-7: Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number – IRS.gov
- Am I Eligible to Apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number? – IRS.gov
- IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers Providing In-Person ITIN Document Review – IRS.gov
- How to apply for an ITIN – U.S. Embassy and Consulate in the Netherlands
- Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) – Study in the States
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