How to Get an ITIN Number

Posted by Frank Gogol
Updated on May 16, 2022

Tax season can be a very stressful time of the year. It combines the difficulty of navigating complex laws with the challenge of understanding your finances. One of the most important aspects of tax filing is your taxpayer identification. If you have a social security number, that is your taxpayer ID. Otherwise, you need to use an ITIN. Read on if you are not sure how to get an ITIN number.

Who Needs an ITIN Number?

The Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is how the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) keeps track of certain taxpayers in the United States.

It is used by the IRS to identify taxpayers who do not have a social security number. The only people who need to have an ITIN are people who are required to file federal tax returns but do not have a social security number. 

If you are not required to file a tax return while you are in the United States, then you do not need an ITIN. You also do not need an ITIN if you have a social security number issued by the Social Security Administration. Essentially, it is an ITIN for immigrants.

How to Apply for an ITIN Number

There are various methods of how to get an ITIN number from the IRS. 

Apply for New ITIN by Mail

You can apply for a new ITIN by mail using the instructions listed below:

  1. Go to irs.gov/forms-pubs/about-form-w-7
  2. Download a Form W-7 and print it
  3. Fill in the W-7 with all of your details
  4. Gather supporting documents (Proof of identity/Foreign status document)
  5. Mail your completed W-7 and supporting documents to the ITIN Operation center.

The postal address for the ITIN Operation center is:

Internal Revenue Service

Austin Service Center

ITIN Operation

P.O. Box 149342

Austin, TX 78714-9342

The IRS requires you to mail in your original documents to complete this process. Certified copies will not be accepted. 

If you don’t want to take the risk of mailing important original documents, or if you will need them within 14 weeks of applying, it is better to use one of the in-person methods of applying for an ITIN detailed below.

Apply for New ITIN with Acceptance Agent

It is also possible to apply for a new ITIN in person at an IRS-authorised Certifying Acceptance agent. If you use this method, you still need to have and show your original supporting documents. The agent will make copies of them and certify them for your application. 

Visit the IRS website to find the list of Acceptance Agents for Form W-7 inside and outside the United States.

Apply for New ITIN at IRS Assistance Center

The third way to apply for a new ITIN is at an IRS Assistance Center. As with an Acceptance Agent, you will not need to mail anything in. You just need to provide your supporting documents and completed Form W-7 to the IRS representative at the Center.

When this process is complete, the IRS will issue your new ITIN through the mail.

How to Use an ITIN

Your ITIN is used to confirm your identity as a federal taxpayer. You use your ITIN in any situation where you need to provide a federal taxpayer identification number.

File Taxes and Claim Benefits

The purpose of the ITIN is to identify you when you file a tax return with the IRS. If you are eligible for tax benefits, you can also use your ITIN to claim those benefits. 

However, please note your ITIN is only valid for claiming tax benefits. It cannot be used to claim social security or other benefits that are not related to federal income tax.

Receive Your Tax Refund

If you qualify, you can also use your ITIN to receive your income tax refund from the IRS.

Open a Bank Account

Finally, your ITIN can be used as your federal tax identification number when you apply for a bank account or a mortgage loan.

Applying for an ITIN Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some questions that people often ask about how to get an ITIN number.

What is an ITIN?

The Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is how the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) keeps track of certain taxpayers in the United States. It is like the student numbers issued by colleges to identify their students.

ITINs are not issued automatically. You would not have an ITIN unless you applied for one in the past.

Why do I need an ITIN?

Not every U.S. taxpayer needs an ITIN. For U.S. citizens, the IRS identifies them using their Social Security Number (SSN), which is issued by the Social Security Administration. 

However, some people are required to file a tax return in the U.S. but do not have a social security number. For these people, the IRS issues an ITIN.

You should apply for an ITIN if you are required to file or report your tax return but you don’t have a social security number. Take a look here to understand the difference between an ITIN and an SSN.

What else does my ITIN do?

Your ITIN is issued and used only by the IRS. It is not used or recognized by any other federal or state government agency. Your ITIN serves no purpose other than federal tax reporting.

ITIN Renewal FAQ

Below are some questions that people often ask about how to renew an ITIN if it has expired. 

Who needs to renew?

If you have not used your ITIN to file a tax return in several years you might need to renew it. 

To check if your ITIN has expired, you can call the IRS helpline at 800-829-1040 and try to retrieve it. If you cannot retrieve your ITIN using the helpline, it has probably expired and you need to renew it.

Why should I renew my ITIN?

An expired ITIN could delay your income tax filing, and you might not be eligible for certain tax credits or benefits. 

If you know that you are required to file federal taxes, it is important to renew your ITIN well before your tax filing deadline.

How do you renew an ITIN?

The process for renewing an expired ITIN is the same as applying for a new one. Follow the instructions given earlier in the article for getting a new ITIN.

How long does it take to renew an ITIN?

It takes up to seven weeks for the IRS to issue a new ITIN if you apply in person or 14 weeks for applications by mail.

Read More

Final Thoughts 

The process of how to get an ITIN number is straightforward. The application process can be done by mail or in person. It takes up to seven weeks for the IRS to issue a new ITIN if you apply in person. It could take up to 14 weeks for the IRS to issue your ITIN if you applied by mail. You only need to apply for an ITIN if you are required to file a tax return in the U.S., but you do not have a social security number.


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