If you earn money in the U.S. as a resident, citizen or visitor, you have to file income taxes. If you can’t get a Social Security number, you’ll need an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) to file your taxes and claim important tax credits.
Find answers to top questions about the ITIN:
1. What is an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN)?
- An ITIN is an identification number used by individuals who can’t get a Social Security number to file their taxes and get a refund from income withheld by the IRS.
- People who can’t have a Social Security Number may get an ITIN regardless of their immigration status or country of origin.
- By law, you can’t have an ITIN and a Social Security Number.
- The ITIN is a nine-digit number that always begins with the number 9 and has a 7 or 8 in the fourth digit (for example, 9XX-7X-XXXX).
2. Who needs an ITIN?
- You, your spouse or any of your dependents who can’t have a Social Security number must apply for an ITIN in order to be included on a tax return.
- If you have dependents living in Mexico or Canada and you send them more than 50 percent of the money they need to live, you can apply for an ITIN for each of them and claim them on your tax return. This may help you get a bigger tax refund or may decrease the amount you owe in taxes.
3. Can I use an ITIN for bank accounts and loans?
- Some banks, credit unions and financial institutions accept ITINs to open savings and/or checking accounts that pay interest. You may also be able to apply for car and home loans with an ITIN.
4. Can I use an ITIN to get a job?
- An ITIN is not a work authorization and should not be used to apply for work.
5. Can I get Social Security benefits or claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) with an ITIN?
- No, an ITIN doesn’t make you eligible to receive Social Security benefits or claim the EITC.
6. Is it safe to have and use an ITIN?
- The IRS does not share information about ITIN taxpayers with the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
7. How do I apply for an ITIN?
- You need form W-7, your tax return and one or more additional forms of identification (listed below) to apply for an ITIN.
- Mail your form and tax return to the address listed on the W-7 form instructions.
- You will receive a letter by mail with your ITIN 6 – 8 weeks after applying (You will not receive a card with your ITIN).
8. What forms of identification do I need to apply for an ITIN?
- Original passport (or a notarized or certified copy of the passport), OR
- Two of the following unexpired documents (including at least one photo identification and an identification from your country of origin):
- National Identity Card (with photo, name, current address, date of birth and expiration date)
- Birth certificate (original or notarized copy)
- Driver’s license from the U.S.
- Driver’s license from your country of origin
- State identification card
- Voter registration card from your country of origin
- Military identification from the U.S
- Military identification from your country of origin
- ID card with USCIS photo
- Medical records (only for dependents 14 years old and under)
- School records (only for dependents and/or students 18 years old and under)
9. Where can I get help to apply for an ITIN?
- You can apply for an ITIN for free on your own by following the instructions on the W-7 form.
- You can also get help filing your taxes and applying for an ITIN for free in person. Or call the IRS (toll-free) 1 (800) 829-1040.
- Be careful with services or “notaries” that charge hundreds of dollars to complete ITIN applications.
10. How do I report income if I have an ITIN?
- If you are reporting wages that you earned, you should include the Social Security number listed on the W-2 or 1099 forms you received when you complete the wages section on your tax return. The person who has the ITIN will receive credit for the income.
*Remember, the deadline to file your taxes is Wednesday, April 15, 2015.