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Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN’s)

In this overview, we will highlight some of the key information to allow a clear understanding of Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers in the US.

Last updated 20 October 2020

An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number is a United States tax processing number.

It is issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to residents with foreign status, including non-resident and undocumented aliens that conduct any business within the US. The ITIN is a nine-digit number that is formatted similarly to a Social Security Number.

What is the purpose of an ITIN?

Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers allow people that are not eligible for a Social Security Number to efficiently comply with the US tax laws.

In the US, only US citizens and authorized non-citizen residents can obtain a Social Security Number (SSN). Amongst other purposes, SSN’s are needed to be able to work and collect pensions within the US, and for non-residents that travel to the United States for work, an alternative is needed.

An ITIN’s main purposes are filing your taxes and opening a US bank account, but can also help you obtain a mortgage, a driving license (in certain states), settle employment disputes, as well as provide proof of residency when needed.

Who needs an ITIN?

Below is a clearer breakdown of exactly who would need an ITIN:

  • Resident aliens (if the amount of days they reside in the US requires them to file a tax return)
  • The spouse or any dependents of resident aliens
  • The spouse or any dependent of resident aliens that hold a valid visa
  • Non-resident aliens that are required to file a tax return

What are ITIN’s not used for?

An ITIN cannot provide you with immigration status. It does not provide eligibility for Social Security benefits or authorize you to work within the US.

Applying for an ITIN

Application for an ITIN requires a single-page document which is an IRS Form W-7 (Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number).

Some of the legally required information you would need to provide includes the following;

  • Your birth name
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Original foreign status/immigration documents
  • Identification documents (e.g. driving license, passport, state issued ID)
  • Any previous identification numbers if you have used an ITIN before

If you do need an ITIN and have not yet applied for one, it is best to do this as soon as possible as the process can take anywhere between 8-10 weeks.

Will my ITIN expire if I am working in the US more than 1 year?

Some ITINs’ can expire if it is not used on a federal tax return at least once in the last three years. Others will need to be renewed despite this time frame. The middle digits of the ITIN number that you are assigned can affect this. Speaking to a US tax specialist can clarify what action you would need to take in regards to your ITIN.

It is always recommended to seek advice on your taxes, especially when handling documents as a non-resident. Submitting an application for an ITIN after your income tax return is due could result in penalties and high interest, so seeking advice from an expert could avoid costly errors such as this.

Request a quote from a US tax specialist who will help you apply for an ITIN

At Experts for Expats we can connect you with a US tax specialist who will be able to provide you with a quote for applying for your ITIN. The specialists we work with will be able set up a brief initial conversation to discuss whether you need to apply for an ITIN and give you an overview relating to the US tax system. They will also provide you with a no-obligation free quote for assisting with your ITIN application.

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