What is an ITIN? A guide to who gets one & why

Read this article and find out what an ITIN is, whether you need it or not, and why.


Understand ITINs and Learn How to Apply for Individual Taxpayer Identification Number

What is an ITIN? Source: Canva.

Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is a tax processing number that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issues. 

It enables foreign nationals who work in the US to pay taxes, even if they are not qualified for a Social Security number. 

This nine-digit number serves only the purpose of federal tax reporting and does not qualify anyone to work in the US. 

Therefore, any person who needs to file taxes in the US, regardless of their immigration status, can apply for an ITIN. 

You can apply for an ITIN through an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center, mail an application, or go through an IRS-authorized Certifying Acceptance Agent. 

One must provide original documents to prove their eligibility and identity. They can be your passport, driver’s license, or foreign voter’s registration card. 

The IRS requires at least two types of documents for the ITIN application. They may include proof of identity and proof of foreign nationality or US residency status. 

In case the IRS does not process your ITIN application within seven weeks, you can call them to check on the status of their application. 

The IRS website has a wealth of useful information on the process for non-residents. There you can find special resources for international students, military members, and others.

Read this article and learn how to apply, how long processing takes, whether you can get an ITIN, and more!

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Who’s eligible for an ITIN?

If you need to file a U.S. tax return, you can apply for an ITIN, regardless of your U.S. immigration status. This applies to both resident and non-resident immigrants. 

You are eligible to apply for an ITIN if you are a dependent or spouse of a U.S. citizen, resident alien, or non-resident alien visa holder. 

You can also apply if you are a non-resident who needs to file a federal income tax return.

Resident foreign nationals working in the U.S., or those living outside the U.S. but working for a U.S. company can also apply for an ITIN. 

If you are unsure if you need an ITIN, you can check with your employer.The IRS website has a wealth of useful information about the ITIN application process for non-residents.

It includes resources for international students, military members, and others. 

No matter how you choose to apply, the IRS will require you to provide proof of identity and foreign nationality or U.S. residency status.

In the section below we will talk more about it.

How to get your ITIN number

Where can you find your ITIN? Source: Canva.

If you need an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), there are three ways to apply for it. 

  1. Find an authorized Certifying Acceptance Agent (CAA) who can assist you with the application process.
  2. Apply at an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center.
  3. Mail your application to the IRS. 

If you choose to mail your application, you must complete the W-7 form.

You must also provide original or certified copies of documents proving your identity and foreign status.

You’ll need to provide the IRS with at least two types of documents: proof of identity and proof of your foreign nationality or U.S. residency status. 

The IRS accepts several documents as proof of identity. They include a passport, a U.S. Department of State-issued visa, a U.S. driver’s license, or a USCIS-issued photo ID. 

For dependents under six years old, you can use foreign medical records as proof of identity.

For dependents under 18 years old, foreign school records will do.

How long does processing take?

After submitting an ITIN application, it’s important to be patient. The IRS usually takes around seven weeks to respond with the status of your application. 

To avoid further delays, ensure that all information you’ve provided is correct and complete.

Check that all necessary supporting documentation is included. The processing of incomplete or incorrect applications may take longer.

If you haven’t received a response from the IRS after seven weeks, it’s possible to check the status of your ITIN application by calling the IRS. 

The number to call if you’re within the United States is (800) 829-1040, while if you’re outside the United States, you should dial (267) 941-1000.

It’s important to note that during peak filing season, ITIN processing times can be longer. So it’s recommended to apply well in advance of the tax deadline. 

Additionally, if you need to file a tax return but haven’t yet received your ITIN, here’s what you can do. Attach a completed W-7 form to your tax return as a temporary measure until your ITIN is issued.

You got your ITIN! What now?

See what you can do with your ITIN. Source: Canva.

If you have an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), there are a few things you should know. 

Firstly, you’ll need to renew it every five years, and if you don’t use it for three consecutive years, it will expire. 

To renew, you follow the same process as applying for a new ITIN. However, if you mail in your renewal application, you only need to attach a form W-7 with supporting documents.

Secondly, you can get the Child Tax Credit with an ITIN, but you’ll need to meet the other reporting requirements for it. 

You can also get a tax refund with an ITIN as long as you qualify for one and file your taxes correctly.

However, ITIN holders don’t qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit. Additionally, an ITIN doesn’t make you eligible for Social Security benefits, as the Internal Revenue Service clarifies.

To apply for an ITIN, complete form W-7, which you can find online. While you can use your ITIN or SSN to verify your identity when opening a bank account, not all banks require an ITIN or SSN. 

Some banks might also accept other forms of ID, such as a passport number or other government-issued ID number.

To keep learning about taxes, check the following content and see how to properly file taxes!

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About the author  /  Danilo Pereira

Danilo is a copywriter with a passion for learning. Deeply interested in philosophy, politics and arts.

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