Can’t Get A Social Security Number? Get An ITIN So You Don’t Miss Tax Benefits

Even if you cannot get a Social Security number, you may still need or want to file certain tax forms such as the Form 1040.  But how can you do so without that vital number? 

The answer is by using an ITIN.  So, what is that and how do you get one?  

What Is an ITIN?

The Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) was created by the IRS for certain persons who are unable to get a Social Security number but are still required to file income tax forms.  It does not indicate immigration status, since it can be used by both legal residents and nonresidents alike. 

An ITIN looks like a Social Security number (SSN), but begins with the number "9".  Use it on tax forms just like an SSN.  Computer programs that calculate taxes will recognize that the ITIN is not a Social Security number and figure taxes, credits or refunds appropriately.    

The ITIN will be inactivated if it has not been used for five consecutive years. 

Who Might Need One?

Generally, ITINs are used by residents or nonresidents of the US who cannot get a Social Security number (SSN).  This may include:

  • Nonresident aliens who file tax forms to claim a refund of withholding. 
  • US resident aliens who file income tax returns. 
  • The spouse or dependents of a resident alien, nonresident alien with a visa or US citizen who has a valid SSN.

What the ITIN is NOT

An ITIN is only good for filing tax forms.  It does not serve as any other kind of identification nor does it change immigration status.  Also, the ITIN is not valid for claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit or Social Security benefits. 

How to Get One

Taxpayers may request an ITIN from the IRS using Form W-7 and attaching it to their Form 1040.  Form W-7 can be submitted one of three ways:

  • Mailing the form to the IRS processing center in Austin, Texas along with the required documentation and Form 1040.
  • Using an Acceptance Agent.  This person is designated by the IRS to verify foreign status and identity of the taxpayer. 
  • Going directly to an IRS office to present Forms W-7 and 1040, as well as all necessary documentation. 

If you're having trouble completing the documentation to receive an ITIN, work with a professional tax preparer or accountant to locate assistance.  Remember that not only is it required by law, it can also mean not losing out on money legitimately owed to you and your family. Need more help? Contact a company like Knowledge Integration Solutions for more information.