How Do I Obtain an ITIN?

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In our previous blog, we analyzed the difference between a FEIN (Federal Employer Identification Number) and an ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number). To review, an ITIN is issued by the IRS to individuals who are required to have a U.S. taxpayer identification number but do not have or are not eligible to receive a Social Security number. An ITIN is a nine-digit tax processing number that always begins with the number nine.

ITINs are issued regardless of immigration status because both resident and nonresident aliens may have a U.S. filing or reporting requirement under the IRS. Individuals must have a tax filing requirement and file a valid federal income tax return to receive an ITIN. It is important to note that an ITIN can only be used for tax reporting purposes and is not intended for any other use. For example, you could not use the ITIN in place of a Social Security number to open a bank account.

The IRS issues ITINs to help individuals comply with U.S. tax laws and to provide a means to efficiently process and account for tax returns and payments for those not eligible to receive a Social Security number. Some examples of individuals who may need ITINs include nonresident aliens required to file a U.S. tax return, a U.S. resident alien (based on days present in the U.S.), a dependent or spouse of a U.S. citizen or resident alien, or a dependent or spouse of a nonresident alien visa holder.

In order to obtain an ITIN an individual must apply for one through the IRS. The latest version of Form W-7 (which you can find here) must be completed and submitted. The tax return for which the ITIN is needed must also be submitted as an attachment. Lastly, two original or certified copies of an individual’s identity and foreign status must be included. Examples include a passport, USCIS photo identification (such as a green card), U.S. visa, civil birth certificate, etc.

As the tax return is filed as an attachment to the ITIN application, it should not be mailed to the address listed on Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ. The tax return, ITIN application, and proofs of identity and foreign status should be mailed to:

Internal Revenue Service
Austin Service Center
ITIN Operation
P.O Box 149342
Austin, TX, 78714

Because a tax return must be filed with an ITIN application, it is best to apply for an ITIN during tax season, which typically runs from Jan. 1 through April 15 each year. However, ITIN applications are accepted year round. If you qualify for an ITIN and your application is complete, you can expect to receive a letter from the IRS assigning your number within six weeks.

If you need assistance completing the ITIN application, you can call the IRS toll-free at 1-800-829-1040 or visit the IRS website at http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Individual-Taxpayer-Identification-Number-%28ITIN%29.

If you have questions on immigrating to the United States and the tax implications this may have, please contact our office today to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys!

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