ITIN Frequently Asked Questions
- 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 7 or 8 in the fourth digit, example 9XX-7X-XXXX.
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 U.S. tax return and payment responsibilities 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.
An Acceptance Agent is an individual, business or organization (college, financial institution, accounting firm, etc.) authorized by IRS to assist individuals in obtaining ITINs. Certifying Acceptance Agents review applicants’ documentation, complete a certificate of accuracy, and forward the certificate and application to the IRS for processing. Acceptance Agents charge a fee.
ITINs are for federal tax reporting only, and are not intended to serve any other purpose. An ITIN does not authorize work in the U.S. or provide eligibility for Social Security benefits or the Earned Income Tax Credit. ITINs are not valid identification outside the tax system.
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.
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 an 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.
Examples of individuals who need ITINs include:
- Non-resident alien filing a U.S. tax return and not eligible for an SSN
- U.S. resident alien (based on days present in the United States) filing a U.S. tax return and not eligible for an SSN
- Dependent or spouse of a U.S. citizen/resident alien
- Dependent or spouse of a non-resident alien visa holder
If you do not have an SSN and are not eligible to obtain an 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. If you have an application for an SSN pending, do not file Form W-7. Complete Form W-7 only if the Social Security Administration (SSA) notifies you that an SSN cannot be issued.
To obtain an SSN, see Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Number Card. To get Form SS-5 or to find out if you are eligible to obtain an SSN, go to http://www.socialsecurity.gov/ or contact an SSA office. By law, an alien individual cannot have both an ITIN and an SSN.
IRS processes returns showing SSNs or ITINs in the blanks where tax forms request SSNs. IRS no longer accepts, and will not process, forms showing “SSA205c,” “applied for,” “NRA,” blanks, etc.
No. ITINs are not valid identification outside the tax system. Since ITINs are strictly for tax processing, IRS does not apply the same standards as agencies that provide genuine identity certification.
ITIN applicants are not required to apply in person, and IRS does not further validate the authenticity of identity documents. ITINs do not prove identity outside the Federal tax system, and should not be offered or accepted as identification for non-tax purposes.
REVISED APPLICATION STANDARDS FOR ITINS
Effective immediately, each ITIN applicant must now:
- Apply using the revised Form W-7, Attach a federal income tax return to the Form W-7.
Applicants who meet an exception to the requirement to file a tax return (see the instructions for Form W-7) must provide documentation to support the exception.
The revisions to the ITIN application process will help ensure ITINs are used for their intended tax administration purposes.
What documents are acceptable as proof of identity and foreign status?
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, or a certified or notarized copy, of an UNEXPIRED 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 – we accept docs issued within 12 months of the application if no expiration date is normally available. The documents must also show your name and photograph, and support your claim of foreign status.
IRS will accept certified or notarized copies of 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)
- U.S. driver’s license
- Civil birth certificate
- 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 (dependents – under 14 years old – only)
- School records (dependents and/or students – under 18 years old – only)
Use the latest revision of Form W-7, Individual Tax Identification number to apply. Attach a valid federal income tax return unless you qualify for an exception, and include your original or certified proof of identity 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 documents to:
Internal Revenue Service
Austin Service Center
P.O. Box 149342
Austin, TX 78714-9342
The IRS’s ITIN Unit in Austin issues all numbers by mail.
When should I apply for an ITIN?
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.
If you meet one of the exceptions and do not need to file a return, submit Form W-7, 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 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 April 15 deadline to avoid this.
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 has changed 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?
Advantage Tax Service
8845 164th St
Jamaica, NY 11432
Queens County, (NYC) New York City
Ask a Question
A Certified IRS Acceptance agent will answer all your questions.