Whether you’re a resident of the United States or just work here, it may be a good idea to get an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or ITIN.
How to get an ITIN: your step-by-step guide in 2022
ITIN means Individual Tax Identification Number.
Issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), an ITIN offers a way to pay taxes for those who work in the United States. It also offers some tax and public benefits.
What is an ITIN?
An individual taxpayer identification number is a tax processing number that is issued through the IRS. The purpose of an ITIN is to ensure that those who work in the US have a method of paying taxes, even if they may not qualify for a Social Security Number (SSN) by the Social Security Administration.
This number is issued to qualifying nonresident and resident aliens (green card holders), their spouses, or their dependents. It is formatted very much like the SSN and is a nine-digit number.
Why do I need an ITIN?
Obtaining an ITIN helps you receive some benefits such as payment of the United States tax return and ensures that you comply with the United States tax laws.
Anyone who earns income in the United States is required to obtain a tax identification number, as they are required to pay taxes on what they earn.
Other benefits include the possibility of opening an account that earns interest and other financial products depending on the financial institution. However, not all banking products require an ITIN.
For example, Remitly’s Book offers a more streamlined application process that doesn’t require an ITIN or social security number. Learn more about the Notebook here.
Those who live in the United States and who want to obtain a driver’s license or state-issued ID may also need an ITIN. Read about each state’s driver’s license requirements in this guide from the National Immigration Law Center.
Who can get an ITIN?
Anyone can obtain an ITIN regardless of their immigration status in the United States. This means that both resident and nonresident aliens can apply for one if they are not eligible for an SSN.
People who may need an ITIN include:
Dependents or spouse of a US citizen, resident alien, or nonresident alien visa holder;
Nonresidents who need to file a federal income tax return;
Resident aliens who need to file a tax return for the length of time they have lived in the US; Y
People who need to file taxes but live outside of the United States.
If you’re not sure if you need to get an ITIN, it’s a good idea to check with the IRS to confirm your tax liability.
IRS.gov has a lot of helpful information about the process here. They cover groups like international students, members of the military, and others.
What is the difference between an ITIN and an SSN?
The IRS issues ITINs, while the issuing agency for the SSN is the Social Security Administration, or SSA.
An ITIN helps you file taxes and does not serve any purpose other than filing federal taxes. That means that anyone who is required to file taxes in the US will be eligible for one, regardless of their immigration status.
In other words, an ITIN does not automatically allow you to work in the United States. It also doesn’t qualify you for other benefits like Social Security, or to be able to claim a dependent for the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Social Security numbers are only issued to eligible citizens and resident aliens, such as green card holders. This number keeps track of the years you have worked in the United States and your lifetime earnings.
Legal residents who can legally work in the US with an SSN may qualify for additional benefits such as unemployment income or Social Security disability. Other benefits include applying for federal loans and grants, and enrolling in Medicare (health benefits for seniors).
How do I get an ITIN?
There are three options to obtain an ITIN.
Go through an IRS authorized Certificate Acceptance Agent: These services are available both inside and outside the US In most cases you must make an appointment. Bring original documents to prove your eligibility.
Apply at an IRS-designated Taxpayer Assistance Center: You will be asked to make an appointment and bring original documents proving your eligibility.
Submit an application by mail: The IRS allows you to apply for an ITIN at the same time you fill out your tax return and file your taxes. To do this, you must file a W-7 form and complete a tax return. You will also need to present originals or certified copies of documents that prove your identity and foreign status.
Once you receive your ITIN, you will be able to file your tax return as directed on subsequent years’ tax return forms.
IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number Application
No matter how you end up applying for an ITIN, you must submit at least two documents.
One is needed to prove your identity and one is needed to prove foreign nationality or residency status in the United States.
The following are the identification documents that the IRS accepts:
Passport (you can prove both your identity and your state of residence)
A visa issued by the United States Department of State
US driver’s license
Photo ID issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
United States military identification card
Foreign driver’s license
Military identification card (foreign)
United States state identification card
Foreign civil birth certificate
Medical records from abroad (for dependents under the age of six)
National identification card with your name, address, date of birth, photo and expiration date.
Foreign Voter Registration Card
Foreign school records (for dependents who are students and under the age of 18).
Remember, an ITIN needs to be re-validated every five years. If you do not use your ITIN for three consecutive years, it is considered expired.
Renewing your ITIN is the same process as applying for a new ITIN. However, if you mail in your renewal application, you can simply submit a W-7 form with supporting documents, without attaching a tax return.
How long do I have to wait to get my ITIN from the IRS?
Once you apply for an ITIN, you can expect the IRS to notify you of the status of your application within seven weeks.
To avoid delays, please ensure you have provided the correct information, and all required supporting documentation. Any incomplete or incorrect application may take longer to process.
Also, filing IRS Form W-7 with your tax return after April 15 can cause penalties, so it’s best to file as soon as you can.
If more than seven weeks pass and you do not receive a response, you can call the IRS toll-free number 800-829-1040 to check the status of your ITIN application.