Most U.S. citizens use a Social Security number (SSN) as their identification number when they do their taxes. However, many non-U.S. citizens who don’t qualify for an SSN earn income in this country and have tax obligations. If you don’t qualify for an SSN, you can use an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to file your return instead.
What can I do with an ITIN?
ITINs are strictly used as a taxpayer identification number, so people without an SSN can file a tax return. The IRS makes it clear that an ITIN does not
- Provide authorization to work in the U.S.
- Impact your immigration status, or
- Qualify you for benefits like Social Security or tax breaks like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
Do I need an ITIN?
If you are required to file a tax return but do not qualify for an SSN, you should apply for an ITIN. If your dependent does not qualify for an SSN, but you want to claim them on your return, they will also need an ITIN.
Both resident and nonresident aliens can get ITINs, regardless of their immigration status. The bottom line is that if you need to file a tax return – even if you live in a foreign country – you can apply for an ITIN.
How do I get an ITIN?
You apply for an ITIN by submitting Form W-7 to the IRS. You can send your application by mail or schedule an in-person appointment to have someone assist you. Those instructions are found here.
The application requires basic information, such as name, mailing address, and birth date. You will also give the reason why you need an ITIN and some other information, like your U.S. visa number, if you have one.
Do ITINs expire? When?
Yes. If you have an ITIN but have not used it on a federal tax return at least once in the past three tax years, it expires on Dec. 31 of that year. So do all ITINs with middle digits 88 (e.g., 9XX-84-XXXX).
You can renew your ITIN when you file a tax return by completing from W-7. Renewal applications must include a federal tax return unless you meet an exception to that requirement. Learn more here.
Can I file my taxes online with an ITIN?
Yes, you can file a tax return with an ITIN online with TaxSlayer.
The information in this article is current through tax year 2021 (returns filed in 2022).