An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is a tax processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service. Its is a nine-digit number that always begins with the number 9 and has a range of 70-88 in the fourth and fifth digit. Effective April 12, 2011, the range was extended to include 900-70-0000 through 999-88-9999, 900-90-0000 through 999-92-9999 and 900-94-0000 through 999-99-9999. IRS issues ITINs to individuals who are required to have a U.S. taxpayer identification number but who do not have, and are not eligible to obtain a Social Security Number (SSN) from the Social Security Administration (SSA).
ITINs are issued regardless of immigration status because both resident and nonresident aliens may have a U.S. filing or reporting requirement under the Internal Revenue Code.
Individuals must have a filing requirement and file a valid federal income tax return to receive an ITIN, unless they meet an exception.
What is an ITIN used for?
ITINs are for federal tax reporting only, and are not intended to serve any other purpose. IRS issues ITINs to help individuals comply with the U.S. tax laws, and to provide a means to efficiently process and account for tax returns and payments for those not eligible for SSNs.
An ITIN does not:
- Authorize work in the U.S.
- Provide eligibility for Social Security benefits
- Qualify a dependent for Earned Income Tax Credit Purposes
Who needs an ITIN?
IRS issues ITINs to foreign nationals and others who have federal tax reporting or filing requirements and do not qualify for SSNs. A non-resident alien individual not eligible for a SSN who is required to file a U.S. tax return only to claim a refund of tax under the provisions of a U.S. tax treaty needs an ITIN.
Other examples of individuals who need ITINs include:
- A nonresident alien required to file a U.S. tax return
- A U.S. resident alien (based on days present in the United States) filing a U.S. tax return
- A dependent or spouse of a U.S. citizen/resident alien
- A dependent or spouse of a nonresident alien visa holder
What documents are acceptable as proof of identity and foreign status?
The IRS has streamlined the number of documents the agency will accept as proof of identity to obtain an ITIN. There are now 13 acceptable documents.
An original passport is the only document that is accepted for both identity and foreign status. If you do not have a passport, you must provide a combination of current documents that contain expiration dates, show your name and photograph, and support your claim of foreign status.
The IRS will accept a combination (two or more) of the following documents, in lieu of a passport:
- National identification card (must show photo, name, current address, date of birth, and expiration date)
- S. driver's license
- Civil birth certificate
- Foreign driver's license
- S. state identification card
- Foreign voter's registration card
- S. military identification card
- Foreign military identification card
- S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) photo identification
- Medical records (dependents only)
- School records (dependents and/or students only)
When should I apply for an ITIN?
You should complete Form W7 as soon as you are ready to file your federal income tax return, since you need to attach the return to your application.
If you meet one of the exceptions and do not need to file a return, submit Form W7, along with the documents required to meet your purpose for needing an ITIN, as soon as possible after you determine that you are covered by that exception.
You can apply for an ITIN any time during the year; however, if the tax return you attach to Form W7 is filed after the return's due date, you may owe interest and/or penalties. You should file your current year return by the April 15 deadline to avoid this.
How and when can I expect to receive my ITIN?
If you qualify for an ITIN and your application is complete, you will receive a letter from the IRS assigning your tax identification number, usually within four to six weeks. The IRS is changing from an ITIN card to an authorization letter to avoid any possible similarities with a Social Security Number card. Current ITIN holders' cards will not be replaced; they should continue to use the numbers previously issued when they need to supply identifying numbers for tax purposes.
If you have not received your ITIN or other correspondence six weeks after applying, you may call the IRS to find out the status of your application.
Where can I get help with my ITIN application?
You may call the IRS toll-free at 1-800-829-1040 for information and help in completing your Form W7
and your tax return, or to check on the status of your application six weeks after submitting Form W7.
Assistance is also available by appointment at IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers (TACs) in the United States provide in-person help with ITIN applications on a walk-in or appointment basis.