The Purpose of Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN)

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You’ve probably heard of the Tax ID Number (ITIN), but do you know what it is? The ITIN is a nine-digit number issued by the IRS to individuals who are required to have a U.S. taxpayer identification number but do not have and are not eligible to obtain a Social Security Number (SSN).

If you need to file a tax return but don’t have an SSN, you must apply for an ITIN. In this article, we’ll discuss what an ITIN is, who needs one, how to apply for one, and more.

What Is a Tax ID Number?

A tax ID number, also known as an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), is a nine-digit number issued by the IRS to individuals who are required to have a taxpayer identification number but do not have and are not eligible to obtain a Social Security number (SSN).

The primary purpose of an ITIN is to enable U.S. taxpayers who are not eligible for an SSN to file tax returns and claim tax treaty benefits. An ITIN also allows U.S. citizens and residents working and earning income abroad to comply with U.S. filing requirements.

Who needs ITIN?

If you don’t have a Social Security Number (SSN) and you need to file a tax return, you’ll need to get an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). Here’s everything you need to know about ITINs:

ITINs are for taxpayers who don’t qualify for an SSN but still need to file a tax return. This includes:

  • Non-U.S. citizens
  • Residents of U.S. territories like Puerto Rico or Guam
  • People who aren’t eligible for an SSN due to visa status or other reasons

When to apply for ITIN?

You may be wondering when you need to apply for an ITIN. The good news is that you can apply for an ITIN at any time, whether you’re filing your taxes or not. However, if you’re expecting a refund, you should apply for an ITIN as soon as possible so that you don’t delay your refund.

You can apply for an ITIN by completing Form W-7 and submitting it to the IRS. The form can be downloaded from the IRS website or obtained from your local IRS office. Be sure to submit all required documentation, including your passport and social security card.

If you have any questions about applying for an ITIN, be sure to contact the IRS or your tax preparer.

When Do You Need a Tax ID Number?

If you are a non-US citizen or resident alien and are required to file a US tax return, you will need a Tax ID Number (ITIN). This is also true if you are filing for tax credits such as the Child Tax Credit or the Earned Income Credit. You may also need an ITIN if you are filing informational returns such as Form 1099, Form 5498, or Form 1042-S. In these cases, the ITIN will be used instead of a Social Security Number (SSN). Furthermore, US citizens and resident aliens who have dependents living outside the US may also need a Tax ID Number.

How to Apply for a Tax ID Number (ITIN)?

Applying for a tax ID number (ITIN) is a straightforward process, but it’s important to make sure all the information you provide is accurate and complete, as any errors or omissions may lead to delays in processing your application. To apply:

  • You will need to fill out an IRS Form W-7 and send it along with supporting documentation to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). 
  • Depending on your individual circumstances, the types of documents you will need to provide can include a valid passport, birth certificate, employment authorization card, or driver’s license. 
  • Be sure to keep copies of all the documents you submit for your own records.

Documents Needed to Apply for an ITIN

If you need an ITIN, you’ll need to provide the IRS with certain documents. These documents can include;

  1. passport,
  2. birth certificate, and
  3. a national identification card or another foreign government document that proves your identity and foreign status. 
  4. In addition, you’ll need to provide a completed W-7 form and copies of your US federal income tax returns if they are available. 
  5. It’s also important to make sure any foreign documents you submit are either original or certified copies.

Renewing or Updating Your ITIN

Your ITIN may require renewal or need to be updated if there are changes to your name, date of birth, or citizenship status. To renew or update an existing ITIN: 

  • You must fill out a new Form W-7 and submit it along with all the required supporting documents. 
  • You must also include payment for the $50 processing fee and provide evidence of your current passport if you have one. 
  • You should also send any additional documents that are required for your specific situation. 
  • It is important to keep in mind that renewing or updating your ITIN can take up to 11 weeks, so make sure you plan accordingly. 

FAQs About Tax ID Numbers and ITINs

As you’re researching obtaining a Tax ID number and ITINs, you may come across some common questions that people have. Below, we’ll answer some of the most frequently asked questions to help you better understand the process.

Q: Do I need to renew my ITIN each year?

A: No, it is not necessary to renew your ITIN each year. However, if your ITIN is expired or expiring soon, you may need to submit a renewal application or file for a new one altogether.

Q: Where can I find more information about Tax ID numbers and ITINs?

A: Additional information can be found on the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website at You can also reach out to an accountant or financial advisor if you have any additional questions.

How and when will you receive your ITIN?

Once you have submitted your ITIN application and any necessary documents, the IRS will review it and determine if you are eligible for an ITIN. If your application is approved, you will receive an email or letter notifying you that your ITIN has been issued. You should use your ITIN on all official IRS tax forms and documents as soon as you receive them.

If any of the information in your application is missing or incorrect, the IRS will follow up with you to obtain the necessary information. If for some reason your application is denied, a letter will be sent explaining the reasons why, along with instructions for appealing the decision.

You now have a better understanding of what an ITIN is and how to get one. Remember that an ITIN is an important document that allows you to file your taxes and get your refund. If you have any questions, be sure to consult an accountant or tax specialist.