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General ITIN Information

Effective January 1, 2013, the IRS has updated procedures that affect the Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) application process. Some of the information below, including the documentation requirements for individuals seeking an ITIN, has been superseded by these changes. Taxpayers and their representatives should review these changes, which are further explained in these Frequently Asked Questions, before requesting an ITIN.

What is an ITIN?
An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is a tax processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service. It is a nine-digit number that always begins with the number 9 and has a range of 70-88 in the fourth and fifth digit. Effective April 12, 2011, the range was extended to include 900-70-0000 through 999-88-9999, 900-90-0000 through 999-92-9999 and 900-94-0000 through 999-99-9999. IRS issues ITINs to individuals who are required to have a U.S. taxpayer identification number but who do not have, and are not eligible to obtain a Social Security Number (SSN) from the Social Security Administration (SSA).

ITINs are issued regardless of immigration status because both resident and nonresident aliens may have a U.S. filing or reporting requirement under the Internal Revenue Code.

Individuals must have a filing requirement and file a valid federal income tax return to receive an ITIN, unless they meet an exception.

What is an ITIN used for?
ITINs are for federal tax reporting only, and are not intended to serve any other purpose. IRS issues ITINs to help individuals comply with the U.S. tax laws, and to provide a means to efficiently process and account for tax returns and payments for those not eligible for Social Security Numbers (SSNs). 

An ITIN does not authorize work in the U.S. or provide eligibility for Social Security benefits or the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Who needs an ITIN?
IRS issues ITINs to foreign nationals and others who have federal tax reporting or filing requirements and do not qualify for SSNs. A non-resident alien individual not eligible for a SSN who is required to file a U.S. tax return only to claim a refund of tax under the provisions of a U.S. tax treaty needs an ITIN.

Other examples of individuals who need ITINs include:
   • A nonresident alien required to file a U.S. tax return 
   • A U.S. resident alien (based on days present in the United States) filing a U.S. tax return 
   • A dependent or spouse of a U.S. citizen/resident alien
   • A dependent or spouse of a nonresident alien visa holder


How do I know if I need an ITIN?
If you do not have a SSN and are not eligible to obtain a SSN, but you have a requirement to furnish a federal tax identification number or file a federal income tax return, you must apply for an ITIN.

If you have an application for a SSN pending, do not file Form W-7. Complete Form W-7 only if the Social Security Administration (SSA) notifies you that a SSN cannot be issued.

To obtain a SSN, see Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card. To get Form SS-5 or to find out if you are eligible to obtain a SSN, go to Social Security Administration or contact a SSA office. By law, an alien individual cannot have both an ITIN and a SSN.

IRS processes returns showing SSNs or ITINs in the blanks where tax forms request SSNs. IRS no longer accepts, and will not process, forms showing "SSA", 205c", "applied for", "NRA",& blanks, etc.

How do I apply for an ITIN?
Use the latest revision of Form W-7, Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number to apply. Attach a valid federal income tax return, unless you qualify for an exception, and include your original proof of identity or copies certified by issuing agency and foreign status documents.

Because you are filing your tax return as an attachment to your ITIN application, you should not mail your return to the address listed in the Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ instructions. Instead, send your return, Form W-7 and proof of identity and foreign status documents to:

     Internal Revenue Service
     Austin Service Center
     ITIN Operation
     P.O. Box 149342
     Austin, TX 78714-9342

You may also apply using the services of an IRS-authorized Acceptance Agent or visit some key IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center in lieu of mailing your information to the IRS in Austin. Taxpayer Assistance Centers (TACs) in the United States provide in-person help with ITIN applications on a walk-in or appointment basis. Applicants outside the United States should contact U.S. Tax Attachés in Frankfurt, London, or Paris. The IRS's ITIN Unit in Austin issues all numbers through the mail.

When should I apply for an ITIN?
You should complete Form W-7 as soon as you are ready to file your federal income tax return, since you need to attach the return to your application.

If you meet one of the exceptions to the tax filing requirement, submit Form W-7, along with the documents that prove your identity and foreign status. You are also required to include supplemental documents to substantiate your qualification for the exception, as soon as possible after you determine that you are covered by that exception.

You can apply for an ITIN any time during the year. However, if the tax return you attach to Form W-7 is filed after the return's due date, you may owe interest and/or penalties. You should file your current year return by the prescribed due date to avoid this situation.

Where can I get help with my ITIN application?
You can call the IRS toll-free at 1-800-829-1040 if you are in the United States. If you are outside the United States, call 267-941-1000 (not a toll-free number) for information and help in completing your Form W-7 and your tax return or to check on the status of your application six weeks after submitting Form W-7.

Assistance is also available at selected IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers in the United States to provide in-person help with ITIN applications on a walk-in or appointment basis. Applicants outside the United States can contact a U.S. Tax Attachés in Frankfurt, London, and Paris.

You may also use the services of an IRS-authorized Acceptance Agent.

How and when can I expect to receive my ITIN?
If you qualify for an ITIN and your application is complete, you will receive a letter from the IRS assigning your tax identification number usually within six weeks. If you have not received your ITIN or other correspondence six weeks after applying, call the IRS toll-free number at 1-800-829-1040 to request the status of your application if you are in the United States. If you are outside the United States, call 267-941-1000 (not a toll-free number).



 

Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 19-Nov-2014