If you have been told that you need to get an ITIN in order to work then you are probably wondering what does ITIN stands for. The short answer is that ITIN stands for Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. The long answer is actually much more interesting. The tax code of the United States of America was made by people who had a vision that surpassed what we see in most other countries. ITIN is for people who cannot get a social security number officially. The genius part of ITIN is that social security number is required for pretty much anyone who has the means to be an official citizen of the United States of America. So the ITIN is for people who are, essentially, not given an official SSN but still want to work here. The reason that the ITIN exists is to ensure that tax revenue can be generated from as many places as possible. ITINs are a bit hard to get but not impossible and much easier than SSNs.
What makes ITIN so interesting
If you are a taxpaying citizen who was born in America or who has officially immigrated to USA you will have a social security number. If you aren’t one of these but still want to work in America you will be asked to get an ITIN. The ITIN, interestingly enough, doesn’t grant you any rights the way getting citizenship does. It just allows you to do a few things you couldn’t have done without it. The reason this is interesting is that it reveals something about the way US works. See, if the government wanted, they could have simply kicked out anyone who doesn’t have a SSN from the country. They have the full legal right to prosecute you if you are here and don’t have the essential documentation for it. When you apply for an ITIN you are essentially saying that you don’t think you will be able to qualify for a SSN which is sort of like saying that you do not have the right to be here. Yet when you apply for an ITIN you will be surprised when instead of being prosecuted you get helped by the government to obtain the necessary documentation.
Why the IRS supports ITIN
So why exactly does the ITIN exist? what does ITIN stands? for Simply because the government loves people who are here and wants them to stay? No, ITIN exists because the people who wrote the tax code of the country had foresight and intelligence. The reason is that thinking that everyone is going to do things the way government wants is wrong. No matter what you do, there will be people who will have special circumstances that will prevent them from doing what the government requires them to do.
Another reality is that USA is one of the greatest nations on earth. You may disagree with many of its policies and actions but there is no denying that USA is easily the most influential country in the world. The whole world listens to American music, watches American movies, and follows American TV shows. No other country can claim to have the political power on a global basis that the USA does. This, naturally, makes people want to come to America. Not all of the people can come in the right way so they come in whatever way they can. The people who wrote the tax code knew that this was going to happen. They knew that there will be people in their country who will not be able to get a social security number. No matter what policies they adopted or what actions they undertook, there will always be people within the borders of the United States of America who will not be eligible for an SSN.
Understanding the job of IRS
So why is the IRS helping people many other agencies of the government would prosecute? It is all about the role of the IRS and their role is right in their name: Internal Revenue Service. The IRS doesn’t exist to prosecute people; it exists to ensure that enough revenue is generated. All of the things that the United States government does require a lot of money, so they have given IRS somewhat of a free hand to accomplish its work. You can even report illegally earned income on your IRS filings and they will not share the information with other government agencies to get you arrested, they will simply take their share of the money. All of this is necessary to ensure that enough revenue is being generated to fund the country and help the citizens.
So the IRS knew that there will be people in the country who will not have a SSN. They had a simple choice. They could easily work with other agencies and get these people in trouble however there were many problems with that. The biggest problem was the cost. The people without SSNs would still be working within the United States of America, except now they won’t be paying a tax. This would mean that the revenue of the country would fall. If the IRS reports people without SSNs, it won’t just stop revenue for coming in, it would actually cost much more. Whenever an agency gets on a case it spends thousands of dollars searching for information and looking for a case. So prosecuting people without SSNs would both decrease the amount of money coming in and at the same time take more money out of what the government had already.
The other option was a much simpler one; assign people ITINs and let other agencies deal with issues on their own. This is great for America because it ensures that the people who are in the country, even those without SSNs, pay their fair share of taxes. This increases the amount of revenue that is generated and ensures that things are fair. Even if someone doesn’t have a SSN they still use the services provided by the government such as roads, police, fireman, and much more so it is only fair that they pay in to the tax system just like anybody else. This is also why other agencies do not interfere with the work of the IRS and let its policies be even if they interfere with their own policies. Other agencies could easily ask for more data from the IRS and prosecute a whole lot more people but they know that it would end up hurting America which is the opposite of what they want to do. So the next time someone asks what does ITIN stands for tell them this is what it is supposed to accomplish.
Do you need an ITIN
So now you have a much better idea of what an ITIN is, what it stands for, and what it means in the big picture. Now you have to determine whether you are one of the people who need an ITIN. If you are in the United States of America and are what the IRS calls a “Nonresident alien” you will need to get an ITIN. If you want to work in the Unites States of America you will need to have an ITIN if you do not have a SSN. Not all jobs are open to people who do not have a SSN but there are many jobs which will accept people as long as they have an ITIN.
If you are a resident in the United States of America but are qualified as an alien then you will also need to get an ITIN number and file for taxes. Alien means anyone who is in the country but does not have the necessary documentation or has not gone through the process which would result in them having a SSN. You will also need an ITIN if you are a nonresident spouse or dependent of someone who is a resident/nonresident alien or if you are the spouse or dependent of someone who has a US visa but is a nonresident. Do not worry too much about the nonresident or resident status.
There is a perception that ITIN are only for people who are here illegally but this is wrong. ITIN is also for people who are in the country legally and need to show that they are taxpayers but they do not qualify for a SSN. This may include people who are here for studies. If you are here only for studies and plan to go back to your country after completing your studies you will not have a social security number. Yet there are many transactions you might have to do which will require tax documentation. Maybe you want to get a loan for a car, or maybe you want to get your own place. There are chances that transactions like these would require some official documentation which show that you are a taxpayer, something which you will not be able to do without a SSN. Having an ITIN will allow you to complete these transactions. It should be noted that ITIN does not entitle you to any government services the way a social security number does, it just proves that you are a productive taxpaying member of the society and that you can be trusted.
Getting an ITIN
If you do indeed qualify for getting an ITIN the next step is to look at how you can go about doing it. The first thing you will need is the form W-7. You can easily find the form online on the IRS website here: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw7.pdf . Once you have filled the form you need to submit it to the IRS who will the verify the information on the form and they will then assign you an ITIN number which you can use to pay taxes. Do note that you will be needing a lot of documentation when you apply for an ITIN. The fact is that the IRS really likes to be thorough with their investigations and results. If there is anything missing from your form your application might be rejected or you might be issues a temporary ITIN until the right information is submitted by you. It is not hard to get all the documents you will need and the form clearly explains what is needed. You will need documentation mostly to show that you are who you are.
So, for example, if you are here from another country, you will need documentation that shows what country you are from. So if you are from Italy for example you will need to have documentation which shows that you are a citizen of Italy. You will also need documentation that shows where you lived in Italy. This won’t be too much of a problem as most identification documents in the world will have your address written on them. The IRS may verify this information with the country you are from in order to make sure you are providing the correct information.
This is an essential part of ITIN because IRS needs to know that you are not a troublemaker of some sort .The IRS may be willing to look the other way if you do not have all the credentials for a SSN but they will not look the other way if they think that you being here will be harmful for the country in any way. ITIN is a great thing but there is potential for it to be abused which is why the IRS is so thorough with their investigations. They want to make sure that when anyone asks “What does ITIN stand for” they have a valid answer for it which justifies their actions. If criminals and dangerous people from other countries were to get ITIN easily it will be harmful for the country and for the ITIN act itself. People might turn against ITIN and make it difficult for people who are genuinely good people and want to be taxpayers and pay their fair share in America. Simply prove your identity by providing the required documents and you are good to go.
Getting Help with ITIN
The W-7 form and other documents you will need to provide are explained very clearly on the form itself. You will also find a lot of guiding information right on the IRS website. However if you are still having trouble feel free to work with a certified professional who can help you with your documentation issues with the IRS. There are authorized Acceptance Agents who are authorized to verify documents and to provide you the official information about the latest requirements and regulations regarding ITIN and other IRS related issues. If you want to know where the nearest Acceptance Agent is located simply go https://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Acceptance-Agent-Program and find out. The interesting thing is that ITIN Acceptance Agents are also available outside of America in many countries, you will also find information about them from the link above.
The IRS also has its own Taxpayer Assistance Centers located all around the country. See, the more help the IRS provides to people, the more likely it is to raise revenue which is why these centers are so helpful. The centers are also helpful because they are authorized to do in person document reviews. The normal way to get an ITIN is to send in the documentation to the IRS office in Austin. The problem is that the IRS office will take some time to review your documentation and if they find something missing or something is wrong they will send the information back to you. Since this happens mostly through mail this can mean a delay of many weeks in your ITIN process.
The Taxpayer Assistance Centers will review your documents right in front of you and tell you what the issue is. So if it is possible for you to travel to an assistance center we would highly recommend it. You can find the location of these centers on IRS’s website: https://www.irs.gov/uac/TAC-Locations-Where-In-Person-Document-Verification-is-Provided . Do note that these centers will not provide you an ITIN on the spot; they will just make sure that the documentation itself is correct. Then they will accept your documents and send them over to the Austin office where ITIN are generated.
If you need some quick help you can also get it over the phone. If you are within the United States of America call 1-800-829-1040 which is the official toll free number of the IRS. If you are not in the Unites States of America at the moment you can call 267-941-1000 though charges will apply for this call as international calls are not toll free.
If all your documentation is complete you will not have to wait a long time to get an ITIN. Usually you can get your individual taxpayer identification number within seven weeks and if it takes longer than seven weeks we would recommend calling IRS and ensuring that everything is okay. The simplest way to do things is to simply attach the form W-7 with your tax return filings as this will result in quick acceptance plus the IRS will also have all the information they need.