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News & Tips from an ITIN Acceptance Agent

ITIN Number Application

What is an ITIN Number? An ITIN is a nine-digit number issued by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to individuals who, are required for U.S. tax purposes to have a U.S. taxpayer identification number (TIN) but, who do not have and are not eligible to get a Social Security number (SSN).

What is form W-7? Form W-7 is used to apply for an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) for non-citizens who are ineligible to receive a Social Security number, but need it for federal tax administrative and reporting purposes. This IRS tax id number is then provided to the U.S. payor to make payments to the foreign taxpayer.

U.S. citizens use their Social Security number (SSN) to identify themselves to the IRS but some non U.S. persons who have tax obligations aren't eligible to receive an SSN. Instead they can apply for an ITIN via the ITIN Unit.

Why do I need an ITIN Number? Generally only people authorised to work in the U.S. can obtain a Social Security Number, but there are people who earn U.S. source income who are either not a citizen or not resident for tax purposes. An example would be if tax was withheld and they are eligible to claim some or all of this back due to a tax treaty with the U.S.

What are the reasons to submit a W-7 ITIN Number Application? The reasons to submit an ITIN number application are that you are not eligible to obtain an SSN but require a tax identification number (TIN). Examples include:

- Nonresident alien required to get an ITIN to claim a tax treaty benefit

- Nonresident alien filing a U.S. tax return

- U.S. resident alien filing a tax return (based on days present in the U.S.)

- Dependent of U.S. citizen/resident alien

- Spouse of U.S. citizen/resident alien

- Nonresident alien student/professor/ or researcher filing a U.S. tax return or claiming an exception

- Dependent/spouse of a non-resident alien holding a U.S. visa

- Other reasons

What Identification do I need to send with my application?

To receive an ITIN a person must prove both their identity and foreign status. In other words prove they are not a U.S. person. Documents that can be accepted as proof are:

A valid original passport or a certified* copy of a passport proves both identity and foreign status.

If you do not have a passport then you can supply two of the following original documents.

Some of them provide proof only of identity; others prove both foreign status and identity:

- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) photo identification

- Visa issued by U.S. Department of State

- U.S. driver's license

- U.S. military identification card

- Foreign Driver's license

- Foreign Military identification card

- National identification card (must be current and contain name, photograph, address, date of birth and expiration date

- U.S. state identification card

- Foreign voter's registration card

- Civil birth certificate

- Medical records (valid only for dependents under age 6)

- School records (valid only for dependents under age 14 (under age 18 if a student))

According to the IRS, it takes 7 to 10 weeks to obtain an ITIN. Starting in 2016, an ITIN will be cancelled if it is not used on any tax return for 5 years in a row.

* Certified copies - must be from the issuing agency. A certified document is one that the original issuing agency provides and certifies as an exact copy of the original document and contains an official stamped seal from the Agency. You may be able to request a certified copy of documents at an embassy or consulate.

You can apply by mail, in person at any IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center in the United States or IRS office abroad. You can also apply via a Certified Acceptance Agent (CAA) who can verify the original documents and attach a Certificate of Accuracy and a copy of the original document to the W-7 application. The CAA would then send all documents for you to the ITIN processing unit.

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