If you earn wages in the United States, you’re required to pay federal taxes—regardless of your immigration status.
Anyone who is ineligible for a social security number (SSN) can apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to comply with tax laws.
Keep reading to learn what an ITIN is, why you need one, and how you apply for one in time to pay federal taxes.
What Is an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number?
An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number is a nine-digit number that begins with the number nine. The United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) uses this number to process taxes.
Since 1996, taxpayers and their dependents who cannot apply for an SSN have received ITINs from the IRS.
Receiving an ITIN enables you to:
- Receive a tax refund from the IRS (if qualified)
- File taxes and claim tax benefits for any qualifying dependents
- Open a United States bank account
- Apply for a mortgage loan
Not only does an ITIN allow you to pay taxes, but it ensures that you receive any tax refund you’re eligible for as quickly as possible.
ITIN Document Requirements
If you’re planning to apply for an ITIN, there are several documents to gather first. To start the ITIN application process, you will need to collect:
- A United States federal income tax return
- A complete IRS Form W-7
- A passport or two of the following documents (original or certified copy):
- National Identification Document (showing your name, address photo, and foreign status from your home country)
- US driver’s license
- Foreign driver’s license
- US State ID
- Birth Certificate (this document is required for any dependents unless a valid passport is included)
- Foreign Military ID card
- US Military ID card
- Foreign Voter’s Registration card
- US Department of State issued Visa
- Photo ID card from US Citizenship and Immigration Services
- School records (age 18 and under only)
- Medical records (age six and under only)
How to File for an ITIN
You can apply for your new Individual Taxpayer Identification Number by mail, in person at an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC, or with the assistance of an Internal Revenue Service-authorized Certified Acceptance Agent (CAA) or Acceptance Agent (AA).
If you do not currently live in the United States, you can apply by mail or in-person. To do this, you will visit an IRS employee or a designated US consular post.
Applying by mail requires you to submit either a certified or original copy of each supporting document. If you’re not comfortable mailing these documents, you can submit them in-person to a TAC or CAA, and they will be immediately returned to you.
Once received, ITIN applications are processed by the IRS Submission Processing Center located in Austin, TX. Tax examiners review the ITIN applications, tax returns, and supporting documentation.
The examiner will deem the application as assigned, rejected, or suspended.
If your application is deemed assigned, the IRS will mail you a notice that you’ve been assigned an ITIN.
If your ITIN application is rejected, IRS will mail a letter to inform you that your application was denied, the rejection reason and that you must reapply with a new application.
The IRS may suspend your application is suspended because of the presence of questionable information or a procedural issue. If you fail to provide accurate information or submit the required documents, this will delay the ITIN application process.
How Long Does It Take to Receive Your ITIN?
It will take up to six weeks for you to receive your new ITIN outside of peak processing times (between January and April). However, you will likely file your ITIN application simultaneously as your tax return during peak processing times. So, it can take up to eight to ten weeks to receive your number.
If you mail your application with original documents or certified copies of supporting documentation, you will receive them back within 65 days. If you haven’t received these documents back after 65 days, you can request that the IRS check their whereabouts by calling 1-800-908-9982.
Does an ITIN Expire?
Before 2015, ITINS were issued indefinitely. However, Congress has since mandated that anyone who received an ITIN before January 1, 2013, must apply for a new one before 2020.
New laws state that if you fail to file a tax return for three consecutive years, your ITIN will expire.
If you received an ITIN after December 21, 2012, it will remain valid for as long as you file a tax return (or someone includes you as a dependent on their tax return) unless no tax return is filed for three consecutive years.
How Do You Renew an ITIN?
To renew an ITIN is to apply for a new one.
To begin, you’ll need to submit foreign nationality and identity status documents as well as proof of US residency. However, you don’t need to attach a tax return to an ITIN renewal application.
Fill out the IRS Form W-7 and check the box to “Renew Existing ITIN.” If your ITIN has expired and you’re not filing a tax return, you do not need to renew your ITN. However, if you wish to file a tax return in the future, you will have to renew your ITIN at that time.
Let Us Help You Apply for an ITIN
If you wish to apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, let us help you through the process.
At Freedomtax Accounting, we will process your application by completing IRS Form W-7 and filing your taxes simultaneously, so you receive your tax return sooner.
Our firm comprises a talented group of professionals that offer an assortment of unique accounting and tax services. We wish to make your life easier by providing all of the services you need in one place.
To start the ITIN application process today, call us at 407-502-2400 or visit our contact page for other options.