The IRS issues an ITIN number to individuals for tax purposes. The nine digit tax number identifies the taxpayer and is issued to individuals who are not eligible for SSN (social security number). IRS introduced the program in 1996 to cater to individuals who do not have a SSN but have to file tax returns according to the Internal Revenue Code.
On January 1, 2013 the IRS updated the rules relating to issuance of ITIN number. The information contained below includes updated information for anyone who wishes to submit an application with the IRS.
1. Overview of ITIN
ITIN is an acronym for Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. The IRS uses this number to identify and process tax related information regarding a particular individual. The ITIN number always begins with the number 9. The number is issued to individuals who are required to pay taxes but are not qualified for SSN (social security number) that is issued to by the SSA (social security administration).
Unlike SSN, ITIN are issued to both residents as well as nonresident individuals in the U.S. as they are required by the IRC (Internal Revenue Code) to file or report income obtained in the country. The individuals that are issued ITIN number must have a valid income tax returns submission requirement in the state where they reside.
2. Uses of ITIN Number
The ITIN number is only used to file taxes in the U.S. They do not serve any other purpose. The number is issued to individuals that satisfy the U.S. immigration requirements and other laws. The IRS uses the number to account for tax receipts of the individuals that do not have an SSN number.
Note that the ITIN number is only used for tax identification purposes. It is not used to authorize work or receive any other special benefits in the U.S.
3. Issuance of ITIN Number
The tax number is issued to foreign nationals that have to submit tax files with the IRS, and who do not qualify for SSN. In other words, a non-resident alien who is not eligible for SSN is issued this tax number. Other people who are issued this tax number include:
- A non-resident alien spouse (or dependent) of a U.S. resident individual
- A spouse (or dependent) of a nonresident alien having a U.S. visa
- Military spouses (or dependants) who don’t have an SSN but require to file tax returns
Individuals who have submitted an application for SSN do not have to apply for an ITIN. The application for ITIN should be made only if the SSA notifies that the SSN cannot be issued due to certain reasons.
4. Application for an ITIN
Individuals can apply for an ITIN using Form W-7. The application for the ITIN cannot be made electronically. Individuals must manually submit the application for ITIN with the IRS. You need to attach a valid federal income tax return with the form unless you are eligible for an exception. Also, you need to include the original proof of identity or a copy that is certified by the foreign status documents and issuing agency. The application of ITIN is sent to IRS center located in Austin, Texas.
You can also apply for the ITIN through an Acceptance Agent authorized by the IRS or visiting IRS TAC (Taxpayer Assistance Center) to assist you in mailing the information to the IRS office in Austin, Texas. TAC offers comprehensive information on applying for an ITIN number. They provide in person information regarding applying for the tax number either through an appointment or walk-in basis. In case the application is filled correctly and all the necessary obligations are fulfilled the IRS issues the ITIN to the individuals through the mail.
5. Timing of Application
The application for ITIN using Form W-7 should be made with the federal income tax return. So, you must file the application as soon as you are ready to submit the income tax return.
You need to provide documentary evidences in case you are eligible for an exemption in tax filing requirements. You need to submit the documentary evidences along with the Form W-7. The form is submitted to substantiate your claims for the exemptions. You need to apply for the exemptions soon after you become aware that you are eligible for that exemption.
The application for the ITIN can be made during any time of the year. However, note that you will incur penalty/fee if the tax return attached to the W-7 is submitted after the due date. In order to avoid this situation, you need to file the return well before the due date.
6. Additional Information
Additional information about ITIN number can be obtained by calling the IRS number. If you reside in the U.S., you can dial toll free number 1-800-829-1040. However, if you are outside the U.S., you can call 267-941-100 for which you would be charged. The IRS customer service personnel can assist you in completing your application for ITIN. You can also check status of your application after six weeks of submitting the tax form.
As mentioned previously, you can also avail assistance through IRS TAC (Taxpayer Assistance Centers) or an authorized Acceptance agent. The representatives can guide in submitting an ITIN application to the IRS and checking status of the application.
On a final note, you can expect to receive the letter from the IRS mentioning your ITIN number within seven weeks. The IRS will offer you the ITIN number if you have correctly filed the application and also after you are found eligible for the tax number. In case, you do not receive the tax number after seven weeks of making the application with the IRS, you can call the toll free IRS number to find out about the status of you application.
The Federal tax law forbids the IRS from sharing information with the Homeland Security or other agencies. Thus you must rest assured that the information you provide in applying for the ITIN will not be used to initiate removal procedures.
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