Individual Taxpayer Identification Number

An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is a United States tax processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It is a nine-digit number that begins with the number 9, and the 4th and 5th digits, also known as second section (xxx-xx-xxxx), range from 70 to 88, 90 to 92 and 94 to 99.[1] Temporary identification numbers are issued to the main taxpayer only and these numbers are usually triggered after a 45-day suspension period. Filing the W-7 application incorrectly, checking the wrong box for the reason the individual is submitting a W-7 form or if the taxpayer’s identifying documents are not accepted by the IRS, can be a reason for which the taxpayer may receive a temporary taxpayer identification number.[2] ITIN numbers are issued by the IRS to individuals who do not have, and are not eligible to obtain, a valid U.S. Social Security Number, but who are required by law to file a U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. An individual required to file a tax return must check boxes b, c, d, e, f, or g on the W-7 application. Individuals who check boxes a, f or h meet certain conditions for not filing a U.S. tax return, and for obtaining an ITIN number from the IRS.

Regardless of immigration status, both resident and nonresident aliens may have Federal tax return and payment responsibilities under the Internal Revenue Code.[3] Individuals must have a filing requirement and file a valid federal income tax return to receive an ITIN, unless they meet an exception. An ITIN application cannot be filed electronically (efile). The application must be attached to a valid federal income tax return.

The ITIN program was created in 1996 for the purpose of allowing tax return filing by individuals without a social security account number. Receiving an ITIN number does not in itself confer the right to work and receive income in the United States.[4]

In 2006, 1.4 million people used ITINs when filing tax returns. Federal tax law generally prohibits the IRS from sharing data with other government agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, assuring unauthorized aliens[5] that the tax information will be confidential and generally will not be used to initiate removal procedures.[6][7]

ITINs are also used by real estate brokers to facilitate mortgages for unauthorized aliens.[8] In addition to use by unauthorized aliens, ITINs are used by foreign investors in United States real estate. Such investors need ITINs to file federal and state tax returns to report rental income.

An individual who meets eligibility requirements can file an ITIN application himself or herself. This involves submitting IRS form W-7, which records biographical information, along with specified types of valid supporting ID and a tax return. The applicant can apply directly or file with a certifying acceptance agent, who can assist with the application process for a fee. ITINs can also be issued for a spouse or dependents, if documentation and signature requirements are met and they are claimed on a valid tax return.[9] Effective June 22, 2012 the IRS began requiring most applicants, even those using acceptance agents, to submit original supporting documents or copies certified by their issuing agency. The IRS will not accept notarized copies of the passport for ITIN application.

In 2012, the IRS indicated that ITINs would expire after 5 years. In 2014, the IRS amended that policy to expire ITINs only if the numbers had not been used in the last 5 years. Under this revised policy, all ITIN’s must be used to file a return or they will expire and be reassigned. This now includes those issued before 2013. These changes go into effect in 2016.[10] The policy has since been revised again so that ITINs expire after three years of non-use. In addition, ITINs issued prior to 2013 will begin expiring in 2016, starting with those with middle digits of 78 and 79 (Example: (9XX-78-XXXX).[11]

In order to retrieve a lost ITIN ( Individual Taxpayer Identification Number), you will need to call the IRS ITIN Hotline at 1-800-908-9982. You can answer a series of questions to verify your identity and the IRS will provide you the number.

What is a Certifying Acceptance Agent?

An Acceptance Agent is a person or an entity (business or organization) who, pursuant to a written agreement with the IRS, is authorized to assist individuals and other foreign persons who do not qualify for a Social Security Number but who still need a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) to process a Form 1040 and other tax schedules. The Acceptance Agent facilitates the application process by reviewing the necessary documents and forwarding completed Forms W-7 to IRS.