Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) are tax processing numbers issued by the IRS. They are available for taxpayers who need an identifying number but are not eligible to obtain a Social Security Number. Whether they are required to be provided to third parties or to file a U.S. tax return, these identification numbers help individuals comply with the U.S. tax law. ITINs are nine-digit numbers that always begin with the number 9, and include the ranges 900-70-0000 through 999-88-999, 900-90-000 through 999-92-9999 and 900-94-0000 through 999-99-9999.

The IRS issues ITINs to foreign individuals who have federal tax reporting obligations or filing requirements regardless of their immigration status. Examples of individuals who must furnish an ITIN include the following:

  • Nonresident aliens or U.S. resident aliens who are required to file U.S. tax returns
  • Dependents or spouses of U.S. citizens/resident aliens in order to file as Married Filing Jointly or to claim a spouse/dependent
  • Dependents or spouses of nonresident alien visa holders
  • Nonresident aliens claiming a tax treaty benefit
  • Nonresident alien students, professors, or researchers filing a U.S. tax return or claiming a treaty exemption

In addition to needing an ITIN to file a U.S. tax return, an ITIN may also be requested by a withholding agent or a bank to use on information returns filed with the IRS. Also, foreign buyers and sellers of U.S. real property interest need ITINs in order to request reduced tax withholding when disposing of the property interest, or pay any required withholding upon purchase.

While an ITIN can be used for the various reasons stated above, these numbers do not authorize individuals to work in the U.S., provide eligibility for Social Security benefits, or qualify a dependent for Earned Income Tax Credit purposes. They also cannot be used as valid identification outside of the federal tax system or to obtain a state driver’s license. More information can be found on the IRS website.

ITINs can be obtained various ways. We will discuss these in next week’s blog post.