WHO NEEDS AN ITIN AND HOW TO GET ONE

Effective January 1, 2013, the IRS has updated procedures that affect the Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) application process.

TAXPAYER IDENTIFICATION NUMBER

An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is a tax processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service. It 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. 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.

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 Social Security Numbers (SSNs).  An ITIN does not authorize work in the U.S. or provide eligibility for Social Security benefits or the Earned Income Tax Credit. 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

HOW TO GET AN ITIN

If you do not have a SSN and are not eligible to obtain a SSN, but you have a requirement to furnish a federal tax identification number or file a federal income tax return, you must apply for an ITIN. Use the latest revision of Form W-7, Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number to apply. Attach a valid federal income tax return, unless you qualify for an exception, and include your original proof of identity or copies certified by issuing agency and foreign status documents. Because you are filing your tax return as an attachment to your ITIN application, you should not mail your return to the address listed in the Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ instructions. Instead, send your return, Form W-7 and proof of identity and foreign status documents to:

Internal Revenue Service

Austin Service Center

ITIN Operation

P.O. Box 149342

Austin, TX 78714-9342

You should complete Form W-7 as soon as you are ready to file your federal income tax return, since you need to attach the return to your application.

 

The form W7 needs to be signed by an enrolled registered ITIN agent who is authorized to sign the document .

If you meet one of the exceptions to the tax filing requirement, submit Form W-7, along with the documents that prove your identity and foreign status. You are also required to include supplemental documents to substantiate your qualification for the exception, 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 W-7 is filed after the return’s due date, you may owe interest and/or penalties. You should file your current year return by the prescribed due date to avoid this situation. 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 seven weeks. If you have not received your ITIN or other correspondence seven weeks after applying, call the IRS toll-free number at 1-800-829-1040 to request the status of your application if you are in the United States. If you are outside the United States, call 267-941-1000 (not a toll-free number).

About the author...

Joshua Katz, CPA

After working for several accounting large firms, I founded Universal Tax Professionals because I knew I could give expats more personalized services at lower rates. Feel free to email me directly at josh@universaltaxprofessionals.com.

Joshua Katz, CPA