A taxpayer who files a return, a statement or other document with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or is subject to US withholding requirements by a third party must include a taxpayer identification number (TIN) for securing proper identification. A TIN can be either a Social Security number (SSN) or an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN). An ITIN is issued to individuals who have US tax reporting or filing requirements and are ineligible to obtain a SSN. An ITIN is arranged the same as a SSN, begins with a 9, is issued by the Internal Revenue Service and is used for tax processing.
The requirement to have an SSN or an ITIN includes income, gift and estate tax returns, amended returns or refund claims, and this extends to a spouse who is filing a joint return or a spouse or other person claimed as a dependent on another person’s return.
Individuals apply for an ITIN by submitting Form W-7, Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. The application must include documentary evidence to establish proof of identity and proof of foreign status (passport, birth certificate, work permit, etc.). The documentation must be original; copies are not accepted.
As an alternative to mailing to the IRS original documents, foreign nationals may request ITINs through an IRS certifying acceptance agent (CAA). CAAs verify and certify the authenticity of an individual’s status and identity. In this case, only the completed W-7 form and a certification statement are forwarded to the IRS.
Pursuant to the 2013 ITIN Application Rules, ITINs expire after five years. Individuals who still need ITINs would have to reapply at the end of each five-year period.
Bazar McBean LLP provides certifying acceptance agent services to individual clients who need to obtain ITINs.