irs tax id number

Can I Use My ITIN Number to Work in the USA

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is a federal tax collection agency in the US that regulates all kinds of taxation related matters. The agency is headed by the Commission of Internal Revenue which is responsible for administering and collecting taxes. One of the key tasks of the agency is issuing tax numbers to individuals and corporations.

Most people get confused when they encounter different types of tax numbers such as SSN, ITIN, and EIN. In this article, we will specifically focus on ITIN numbers. Here, we will answer the most commonly asked question regarding ITIN i.e. ‘can I Use my ITIN number to work in the US?’. Knowing about this is important as not following US work-related regulations can result in serious penalties.

If you need help getting and ITIN number please call us at 407-344-1012, or email us at

Before answering the question ‘can I Use my ITIN number to work in the US?’, let’s first find out what exactly is an ITIN number.

What is ITIN Number?

An ITIN is an abbreviation of individual taxpayer information number. As the name itself suggest, the purpose of the ITIN number is to identify an individual for taxation purposes. The ITIN number is issued by the IRS to individuals who are not eligible for a social security number (SSN) but they need to file a tax return. ITIN numbers are also used for claiming as a dependent in the tax return.

The tax number consists of eight digits with the starting number being 9. It is in the format (9XX-XX-XXXX). Every individual that requires an ITIN number is issued with a unique tax number. You can easily tell it apart from the SSN, which consists of nine digits.

An individual must have a tax number, otherwise, the tax return file will not be accepted by the IRS. In order for the file to be accepted, the individual must either have a SSN or ITIN. Both are accepted to file a tax return file. If you can’t apply for an SSN due to any reason whatsoever, you must apply for an ITIN by filling IRS Form W-7 and submitting the required documents.

The tax number cannot be shared between two individuals. Any one that requires an ITIN number must separately file for the tax number. Only the person whose name is mentioned in the ITIN tax certificate can use the number to file taxes.

Now coming back to the question ‘can I Use my ITIN number to work in the US?’, the answer is not that straightforward.

The Answer: ‘Can I Use my ITIN number to work in the US?’

The answer to the question ‘can I Use my ITIN number to work in the US?’ is it depends. While illegal immigrants can use ITIN to file tax returns, it does not authorize individuals to work in the US. In order to legally work in the US, you must apply for a SSN by filling Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Number.

You can apply for an SSN by calling 1-800-829-369 or applying through the Forms and Publication section of the US Treasury Departments website. You should submit the filled application along with the required documents to the social security office located nearby. You will receive the SSN once your application has been verified.

ITINs are issued to individuals to fulfill requirements of the taxation laws. It allows them to pay taxes to the IRS. However, they are not eligible for benefits offered to SSN holders. Some of the benefits that you cannot claim with ITIN include:

  • Retirement benefits
  • Disability benefits
  • Survivors benefits
  • Medicare benefits

SSNs are issued to US citizens. They are also issued to students, scholars, and workers who have entered the US through proper channels. More specifically, Social Security Numbers are given to individuals holding J-1 Visa (students and scholars) and H-1B Visa (workers). Individuals who are required to file income tax but don not belong to any of these categories are required to apply for an ITIN.

ITINs are issued regardless of the status of the individual. They are issued to both nonresidents and illegal immigrants. The tax number helps the individuals to fulfill the tax reporting requirements.

Who Should Apply for ITIN?

ITINs should be applied for by individuals who are required to report income to the IRS. Foreign resident individuals need to apply for an ITIN for selling goods in US based stores such as Amazon, iTunes, and eBay. They won’t be taxed for the sale proceeds. Still, they are require to register with the IRS.

If you are a US resident person thinking ‘can I Use my ITIN number to work in the US?’, you should know that the number does not authorize you to work. If you have legally entered the US through sponsorship, student or worker visa, you can’t use ITIN. You must apply for an SSN instead. All other people should apply for an ITIN.

Here is a list of individuals who should apply for ITIN by submitting an application with the IRS.

  • US resident aliens who need to file a tax return
  • Non-resident aliens who need to report income to IRS
  • Dependents including spouses of resident aliens
  • Dependents including spouses of non-resident aliens
  • Non-residents who want to claim a tax treaty benefit
  • Any non-resident alien student, researcher, or professor who wants to claim a tax refund due to a tax treaty such as NAFTA or others

Individuals cannot use ITIN for any other purpose other than filing tax returns. It is solely use for reporting income to the US. Resident aliens will have to pay taxes using the number if they work or operate a business in the US. Nonresidents are not required to pay the taxes unless they operate a business through a representative agent in the US. If you sell goods through US based third party stores, you will not have to pay taxes on the sales. The tax on the income will be paid by the US based company. Though, foreign residents need to submit a separate application (W-8BEN), Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding and Reporting (Individuals).

What Documents are Required to Obtain an ITIN?

Now that you know the answer to the question, ‘can I Use my ITIN number to work in the US?’, the question is how to apply for an ITIN. Individuals who want to apply for an ITIN must submit a list of documents to the IRS. The documents are required as a proof of identity of the foreign individuals. Also, the documents must be current and the date of expiry should be mentioned. IRS can accept documents without an expiry date if it was issued in the past 12 months of making the application.

The IRIS accepts 13 documents as proof of identity and foreign status. These include:

  1. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) photo identification
  2. National identification card (must show photo, name, current address, date of birth, and expiration date)
  3. Visa
  4. Passport
  5. S. driver’s license
  6. S. state identification card
  7. S. military identification card
  8. Foreign driver’s license
  9. Foreign voter’s registration card
  10. Foreign military identification card
  11. Civil birth certificate (dependents only – below 18 years of age)
  12. School records (dependents only – below 14 years of age, or 18 if a student)
  13. Medical records (dependents only – below 6 years of age)

At least one of the documents that you submit to the IRS must contain an image. In addition, the passport is the only document that identifies both the foreign status and the identity. A dependent’s passport must mention the date of entry unless the dependent belongs to Mexico or Canada.

Recent changes in the IRS rules disallow sending passports as the sole document of identity of the dependent. The individual must also submit at least two of the following documents.

  • School records
  • Medical records (dependents only – below 6 years of age)
  • Rental statement that list the name of the dependent and the address in the US
  • Bank statement that list name of the applicant and the address in the US
  • Utility bill that list name of the applicant and the address in the US

The above documents should be sent along with the Form W-7 to the IRS. You can download the form from the IRS website. Remember that IRS no longer accepts certified copies of the documents. You should send original documents. The exception is when you submit the application through an Acceptance agent. The form contains instructions on how you should fill the document. You must specify the reason for which you are applying for the ITIN number. Also, you should enter the name and current address in the form, as well as the list of documents that you have attached with the form.

You can apply for an ITIN in any one of the following methods.

  • Through Mail — You can submit the application and the supporting documents to the following address.
    • Internal Revenue Service
      Austin Service Center
      ITIN Operation
      O. Box 149342
      Austin, TX 78714-9342
  • Through a Certified Acceptance Agent — Another method is to send the form using the IRS certified Acceptance agents. The agent will certify all the documents, and attach copies of the original documents along with a certificate stating the documents have been verified. As a result, you don’t have to send original documents to the IRS.
  • IRS Assistance Center — You can also call and schedule an appointment with the IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center. The process is similar to sending documents through a certified acceptance agent. However, in this case the documents are verified by IRS employees instead of an independent agent.

What You Should Know About the Latest IRS Requirements

In the past, the IRS used to issue ITIN cards. However, some employers confused it with SSN cards. So, in order to avoid confusions ITIN, the IRS now issues an authorization letter instead of an ITIN card. The old ITIN card that was issued before 2013 expired in 2016. If you have been issued ITIN prior to 2013, you should apply for renewal of the tax number. These include ITIN number with middle digits of 78 or 79.

Furthermore, you should know that if you do not use the tax number for up to three years, it will expire. You must use the tax number on return at least once in the past three years. So, if you are issued the tax number in June. 1, 2014 and you did not use the tax number even once, the number will expire.

When the tax number expires, you need to again file for a new number. The procedure of renewal is the same as applying for the ITIN for the first time. You need to submit Form-7 and check the box next to ‘Renew existing ITIN’. When submitting the renewal application, you have to send the same documents to IRS that you had submitted when applying for the first time. It’s recommended that you also submit the tax return file along with the application to avoid penalties due to late filing.

You can use an expired ITIN to file tax return for timely filing. However, you can’t claim any credits or exemptions. You will receive a notice that will inform about the reason for delay in the tax refund. IRS states that if you no longer have to file tax returns, you do not need to renew your tax returns.

How to Work in the US Legally

Since now you know that the answer to ‘can I Use my ITIN number to work in the US?’, you may be wondering how you can legally work in the US.

Any person who wants to come and work in the US must fulfill certain requirements. These requirements include:

  • A green card (also known as the permanent residence card) or
  • An work permit (also known as an employment authorization document) and
  • Employment visa

The above documents have different requirement. However, if you possess anyone of the above documents, you can apply for a SSN. Once you obtain the card, you can legally work in the US. You will be eligible for all the social security benefits that are offered by the government to the residents. However, in case you violate the conditions during your stay in the US, you will be deported and denied entry to the US.

An individual who does not receive a work permit or enters the states illegally is not allowed to work in the US. The person cannot apply for SSN. Such individuals are known as ‘aliens’ according to the US immigration law. The immigration and nationality act (INA) defines aliens as individuals who have not entered the US legally in the US. The individuals have entered the country without any inspection.

If you want to work in the US, you must utilize proper immigration channels. You have to follow the legal immigration procedure to enter the US. The risk of illegal entry is great. You may not only fined for entering the US illegally but also deported and banned from ever entering the country again.

Based on the above information, the individuals who can legally work in the US can be classed as following.

  • Temporary worker — an individual who enters the US for a specified period of time. Once the period expires, the individual must return to the country of origin.
  • Permanent worker — an individual possessing a permanent residence card that grants the individual to work live and work permanently in the US.
  • Student (scholar) exchange visitors — Students and professors who have arrived in the US under an exchange program can legally work in the country after obtaining permission from the authorized official.
  • Temporary Business visitors — Businessmen that want to open a business in the US must obtain B-1 business visa. The visa requirement is exempted if you qualify for the visa waiver program.


The article disused in length the answer to the question ‘can I Use my ITIN number to work in the US?’.   You should now have realized that the answer to the question ‘can I Use my ITIN number to work in the US?’ is that ITIN is not a work permit. The tax number does not authorize you to work legally in the US.

Obtaining the tax number does not affect the immigration status whatsoever. It does not allow individual to gain entry in the US. The document is only used to identify the individual for tax reporting purposes. ITIN is different than SSN that is issued to US residents who have entered the country through legal channels. It does not provide as social security, Medicare, disability and other benefits to the individuals. ITINs serve no other purpose than prove your identity for taxation purposes. You have to enter this number when filing tax returns or registering with a US based online store such as Amazon, eBay and others.

If you need help getting and ITIN number please call us at 407-344-1012, or email us at

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