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Get Ready for Taxes: Renew expiring ITINs now to file a return next year

IR-2018-214, November 5, 2018

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service reminds taxpayers with expiring Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) to submit their renewal applications as soon as possible. Failing to renew them by the end of this year will cause refund and processing delays in 2019.

This is the second in a series of reminders to help taxpayers get ready for the upcoming tax filing season. Additionally, the IRS has recently updated a special page on its website with steps to take now for the 2019 tax filing season.

The IRS mailed more than 1.3 million letters to taxpayer households that include an ITIN holder with middle digits 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 81 or 82. Affected taxpayers who expect to file a tax return in 2019 should submit a renewal application now.

To help taxpayers, the IRS has prepared a variety of informational materials, including flyers and fact sheets, available in several languages on IRS.gov. In addition to English and Spanish, ITIN materials are available in Chinese, Korean, Haitian Creole, Russian and Vietnamese.

Those who must renew their ITIN can choose to renew their family’s ITINs together, even if family members have an ITIN with middle digits other than 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 81 or 82. Family members include the tax filer, spouse and any dependents claimed on the tax return.

Who needs an ITIN?

ITINs are used by people who have tax filing requirements under U.S. law but are not eligible for a Social Security number. ITIN holders should visit the ITIN information page on IRS.gov and take a few minutes to read and understand the guidelines. Taxpayers who are eligible for a Social Security number (SSN) should not apply for or renew an ITIN. They should notify IRS of both their SSN and previous ITIN so their accounts can be merged.

Spouses or dependents residing in the United States should renew their ITINs. But those who live elsewhere need not renew them unless they anticipate being claimed for a tax benefit or if they file their own tax return. That’s because the tax reform law suspended the deduction for personal exemptions for tax years 2018 through 2025. Consequently, spouses or dependents outside the United States who would have been claimed for this personal exemption benefit and no other benefit do not need to renew their ITINs this year.

Who should renew an ITIN?

Taxpayers with ITINs set to expire at the end of the year and who need to file a tax return in 2019 must submit a renewal application. Others do not need to take any action.

  • ITINs with middle digits 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 81 or 82 (for example: 9NN-73-NNNN) need to be renewed if the taxpayer will have a filing requirement in 2019.
  • Taxpayers whose ITINs expired due to lack of use should only renew their ITIN if they will have a filing requirement in 2019.
  • ITINs with expired middle digits 71, 72, 78, 79 and 80 need to be renewed if the taxpayer will have a filing requirement in 2019.

How to renew an ITIN

To renew an ITIN, taxpayers must complete a Form W-7 and submit all required documentation. Although a tax return is normally attached to the Form W-7, a taxpayer is not required to attach a return to ITIN renewal applications. There are three ways to submit the W-7 application package:

  • Mail the Form W-7, along with original identification documents or copies certified by the issuing agency, to the IRS address listed on the Form W-7 instructions. The IRS will review the identification documents and return them within 60 days.
  • Taxpayers have the option to work with Certifying Acceptance Agents (CAAs) authorized by the IRS to help them apply for an ITIN. CAAs can certify all identification documents for primary and secondary taxpayers, can certify that the applicant is not eligible for an SSN and has provided the required documentation to obtain an ITIN. CAAs can also submit the application to the IRS for processing. A CAA can also certify passports and birth certificates for dependents. This saves taxpayers from mailing original documents to the IRS.
  • In advance, taxpayers can call and make an appointment at a designated IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center instead of mailing original identification documents to the IRS. When making an appointment, make sure to let telephone assistors know the visit involves an ITIN renewal application.

Avoid common errors now; prevent delays next year

Several common errors can delay an ITIN renewal application or associated refund. The mistakes generally center on missing information and/or insufficient supporting documentation. Here are a few examples of mistakes taxpayers should avoid:

  • Filing with an expired ITIN. Federal returns that are submitted in 2019 with an expired ITIN will be processed. However, exemptions and/or certain tax credits will be disallowed. Taxpayers will receive a notice in the mail advising them of the change to their tax return and their need to renew their ITIN. Once the ITIN is renewed, any applicable exemptions and credits will be restored, and any refunds will be issued.
  • Failure to indicate reason for applying. A reason for needing the ITIN must be selected on the Form W-7.
  • Missing a complete foreign address. When renewing an ITIN, if Reason B (non-resident alien) is marked, the taxpayer must include a complete foreign address on their Form W-7.
  • Mailing incorrect identification documents. Taxpayers mailing their ITIN renewal applications must include original identification documents or certified copies by the issuing agency and any other required attachments. They must also include the ITIN assigned to them and the name under which it was issued in line 6e-f.

As a reminder, the IRS no longer accepts passports that do not have a date of entry into the U.S. as a stand-alone identification document for dependents from a country other than Canada or Mexico, or dependents of U.S. military personnel overseas. The dependent’s passport must have a date of entry stamp, otherwise the following additional documents to prove U.S. residency are required:

  • U.S. medical records for dependents under age 6,
  • U.S. school records for dependents under age 18, and
  • U.S. school records (if a student), rental statements, bank statements or utility bills listing the applicant’s name and U.S. address if over age 18.

The ITIN renewal requirement is part of a series of provisions established by the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act enacted by Congress in December 2015. These provisions are outlined in IRS Notice 2016-48.

IRS encourages more applicants for Acceptance Agent Program to expand ITIN services

IRS continues to recruit Certifying Acceptance Agents (CAA) and accepts applications year-round. With a fast approaching filing season, becoming a CAA will allow eligible practitioners to expand service to their existing clients and attract new ones. Interested individuals, community outreach partners and volunteers at tax preparation sites are encouraged to review all program changes and requirements.