Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)


An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is a nine-digit tax processing number issued to nonresident aliens by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The IRS issues ITINs to individuals who are required to have a U.S. taxpayer identification number but who do not have, and are not eligible to obtain, a Social Security Number (SSN) from the Social Security Administration (SSA).

ITINs are for federal tax reporting only and are not intended to serve any other purpose. The IRS issues ITINs to help individuals comply with the U.S. tax laws and to provide a means to efficiently process and account for tax returns and payments for those not eligible for Social Security Numbers (SSNs).

An ITIN does not authorize work in the U.S. or provide eligibility for Social Security benefits or the Earned Income Tax Credit.

The IRS issues ITINs to foreign nationals and others who have federal tax reporting or filing requirements and do not qualify for SSNs. A nonresident alien individual not eligible for a SSN who is required to file a U.S. tax return only to claim a refund of tax under the provisions of a U.S. tax treaty needs an ITIN.

Do I need an ITIN if I have a Social Security Number (SSN)?
No!

Are ITINs valid for identification?
No! ITINs are for federal tax reporting only and are not intended to serve any other purpose.
 
How do I know if I need an ITIN?
If you received income from U.S. sources during the previous year (i.e. taxable scholarship, fellowship or grant) but were not employed and therefore do not have – and are not eligible to receive – a Social Security Number (SSN), then you will need to apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).
 
How do I know if my spouse or child needs an ITIN?
If you are able to file a joint return or claim your dependents on your tax return but some or all of your dependents do not have a Social Security Number (SSN), then they will need to apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).  Whether or not you can file a joint return or claim your immigration dependent(s) as your dependent(s) for tax purposes will depend first of all on whether you are a resident or nonresident for tax purposes. F-1 and J-1 students are typically considered nonresidents for tax purposes during the first 5 years they are in the U.S.
 
  • If you are a resident for tax purposes, you can claim your dependent(s) on your tax forms – even if they have not been in the U.S. long enough to qualify themselves as a resident for tax purposes. They are eligible to file with you as a resident since you are a resident for tax purposes and you are their spouse or parent. If any of your dependents do not have a Social Security Number (SSN), they will need an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).
 
  • If you are a still a nonresident for tax purposes, whether or not you can claim your dependent(s) is based on your country of citizenship and the tax treaty, if any, between your home country and the U.S. Sprintax will help you determine this but I can tell you that only 4 countries qualify for claiming dependents while still considered a nonresident for tax purposes: Canada, India, Mexico and South Korea. If you are eligible to claim your dependent(s) and they do not have a Social Security Number (SSN), they will need an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). Even if you cannot claim your F-2/J-2 dependent(s) as your tax dependent(s), you can still enter their information into Sprintax in order to generate a Form 8843 for each one. It is not required to have an SSN or ITIN in order to complete Form 8843.

Groups that often need an ITIN:
 
  • F-1 and J-1 student athletes
  • Dependents of F-1 & J-1 students from Canada, India, Mexico, and South Korea
  • F-1 and J-1 students who have scholarships, fellowships, or grants that are considered taxable income but who are not employees of Texas A&M University.
There may be other groups not currently listed who may need an ITIN. If you are unsure if you need an ITIN, please inquire with ISS.

When should I apply for an ITIN?
IMPORTANT!!! ISS recommends that anyone who is aware that they need to apply for an ITIN do so now! The best time to apply for an ITIN is during the Fall semester. Waiting until the federal tax filing season (i.e. Spring semester) to apply for an ITIN may delay processing of your U.S. federal tax return.

How do I apply for an ITIN?
IRS Form W-7 is used to apply for an ITIN. Click the ‘IRS Form W-7’ link to access current and previous year versions of the form and instructions. If you use Sprintax to complete your tax return, a Form W-7 will automatically be generated for each ITIN applicant. There are 3 ways you can apply for an ITIN:
 
 
  1. Apply in Person
You can visit an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center: http://www.irs.gov/uac/Contact-Your-Local-IRS-Office-1. Be sure to select an office that is able to assist with the ITIN application process. The closest center is located in Houston, Texas. To make your process even easier, I recommend that you contact the Social Security Administration ahead of time and request a document for each ITIN applicant to verify that they are ineligible to obtain an SSN: http://ssa.gov/pgm/reach.htm. You will need to bring ALL immigration and tax documents as well as all notices ever received from the IRS to the Taxpayer Assistance Center. All ITIN applicants must be present. It is recommended that you arrive as early as possible. This process could take several hours. The benefit of this process is that you can file the ITIN application(s) and tax return at the same time.
 
 
  1. Apply by Mail
You can submit the ITIN application by mail if you first obtain a certified copy of the passport for each ITIN applicant. This certification must be completed by the applicant’s home country government. You could try contacting your Embassy or Consulate here in the U.S. for assistance. To make your process even easier, I recommend that you contact the Social Security Administration ahead of time and request a document for each ITIN applicant to verify that they are ineligible to obtain an SSN: http://ssa.gov/pgm/reach.htm. Include this document with the materials you mail to the IRS. You also have an option to mail the ITIN applicant’s original passport, but this is not recommended. The benefit of applying by mail is that you can file the ITIN applicant(s) and tax return at the same time.
 
 
  1. Apply through ISS
ISS can assist you with compiling and mailing the ITIN application. If you choose this option, the ITIN application must be submitted separately from the tax return. The ITIN must be issued by the IRS before a tax return can be filed. This could result in delays to your tax return filing process!
 
If you would like ISS to assist you, schedule an appointment by calling 979-845-1824. Bring all of your original immigration and tax documents to the appointment as well as the documents for any dependents. ISS must certify that they have seen the ORIGINAL documents. Also bring Form W-7 to the appointment. We will help you complete this form correctly.