How to Get an ITIN Number

An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, often shortened to simply ITIN, is a type of tax identification number in the U.S. for individuals who need to file and pay federal taxes. While most U.S. residents have a Social Security number, which acts as a tax ID number for taxpaying purposes, resident and non-resident aliens are not eligible for an SSN. Instead, non-citizens can get an ITIN number to file and pay income taxes.

Step 1

Determine if you need to get an ITIN number. Individuals who do not have a Social Security number and are not eligible to receive one, but who are required to file, pay or otherwise provide information through a federal tax return must get an ITIN number. This includes resident aliens, non-resident aliens, spouses of resident aliens, dependents of resident aliens, spouses of non-resident aliens who hold a visa and dependants of non-resident aliens who hold a visa. Permanent residents and U.S. citizens who do not have a Social Security number, but who qualify to obtain one, are not eligible to get an ITIN. Instead, they must apply for a Social Security number and use this for federal tax-related purposes.

Step 2

Obtain revised IRS Form W-7 (Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number). You can obtain one by visiting your local IRS office in person, or contact the IRS helpline at (800) TAX-FORM. You can also download and print Form W-7 from the IRS website at home.

Step 3

Complete Form W-7 by providing your personal information, including your name, address, date and location of your birth. If you are an applicable spouse or dependent, you will also need to provide the Social Security number or ITIN number of your spouse or guardian. Sign the bottom when finished, make a copy of the completed form and retain the copy for your personal records.

Step 4

Organize the required supporting documents for your application to get an ITIN number. You are required to provide supporting documents to both demonstrate your identity and prove your foreign status in order to get an ITIN. Examples of supporting documents for identity include a valid passport, USCIS identification card or a U.S. photo driver's license; examples of supporting documents for foreign status include a valid passport, military identification card from your country of origin or a current national identification card.

Step 5

Complete a federal tax return to submit along with your application to get an ITIN number. To have your application for an ITIN approved, you must submit a federal tax return unless you qualify as an exception to this requirement. Non-resident aliens who are required to get an ITIN to claim a tax treaty benefit are typically the only persons eligible for this exception, although you should review the IRS's exemption list to see if you qualify. If you do qualify and wish to take the exemption, you will need to provide documentation supporting the exception to get an ITIN number.

Step 6

Submit your completed Form W-7, federal tax return or documents supporting your status as an exception, and your proof of identification and foreign status to the IRS by mail. If you submit original documents for proof of identification and/or foreign status, your documents will be returned to you after your application to get an ITIN number has been processed.

Warnings

  • Once you get an ITIN number, it is to be used for federal tax reporting purposes only. This means you can use it to file and pay federal income taxes and report income to the IRS, among other things. Your ITIN number cannot be used to claim Social Security benefits or claim the Earned Income Tax Credit. It does not authorize you to work within the U.S., and cannot be used as a form of identification for any reason other than federal tax-related purposes.

Tips

  • The IRS is temporarily not accepting new applications to get an ITIN number at the time of this writing. The "moratorium" period became effective on December 22, 2009, and will continue until "Acceptance Agent Open Season," which will commence on May 1, 2010 and end on August 31, 2010. During this time, the IRS will be accepting amendments to existing and approved ITIN agreements; applications to get an ITIN number that have not yet been approved will need to be resubmitted when the moratorium ends.
  • El forma y las instrucciones para conseguir un número de ITIN están también disponibles en español. Visite el sitio del IRS o llame el número de teléfono del IRS para la ayuda.
  • For more tax-related help, check out Regal-Legal.com for all of our tax how-to guides, free tax forms and instructions, tax assistance forum, tax definitions, and more.

References

About the Author

This article was created by a professional writer and edited by experienced copy editors, both qualified members of the Demand Media Studios community. All articles go through an editorial process that includes subject matter guidelines, plagiarism review, fact-checking, and other steps in an effort to provide reliable information.