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So you think you need an ITIN to file your taxes?

Well, in this post, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about how to apply for an ITIN.

First, though…

Let’s make sure an ITIN is really what you need. As we all know, taxes and the IRS can be very confusing sometimes. So this post is designed to help you know:

  • If you really need an ITIN?
  • What is an ITIN?
  • And how to apply for an ITIN?

But before we talk about an ITIN, we need to take a step back.

You see, an ITIN stands for an Individual Tax Identification Number. But an ITIN is only one of several types of Tax Identification Numbers.

If you are living in the United States, you need a tax number. But the type of TIN you need? That’s where a lot of people get confused.

So, What Is A TIN, Anyway?

A Tax Identification Number (or TIN) is a unique number assigned to each taxpayer (individuals) or tax paying entity (businesses) throughout the United States.

With a population of almost 330 million people in the United States, the IRS needs a simple way to keep up with everyone. So a TIN is a unique identifier that helps them know who you are.

What Are The Types Of TINs?

Different types of TINs are used for different purposes.

A Social Security Number (SSN) is assigned to all US citizens and some noncitizens who are authorized to work in the United States.

An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is assigned exclusively to businesses, not individuals. This includes both for-profit and nonprofit organizations.

An Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number (ATIN) is a temporary number assigned to children who are in the process of being adopted. Before the adoption is finalized, the family may need an ATIN to claim them as dependents.

A Preparer Taxpayer Identification Number (PTIN) is a special tax number assigned to all tax preparers.

An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is a tax identification number assigned to non-citizen taxpayers who do not qualify for a Social Security Number.


Now that we’ve discussed the different types of Tax Identification Numbers, let’s talk specifically about the ITIN:

  • What is it?
  • Who needs it?
  • And how do you get one?

What is an ITIN?

ITINs are assigned to some resident aliens and non-residents who need a tax number but do not qualify for a SSN. The individual, their spouse, and children usually qualify for an ITIN.

ITINs are nine-digit numbers and start with a 9. They are formatted the same as an SSN, with three digits, a dash, two digits, a dash, and then four digits (i.e., 987-65-4321).

Do I Need an ITIN?

Maybe. If you require a US tax identification number and are not eligible to receive a Social Security Number, an ITIN may be what you’re looking for.

If any of the following describe you, then an ITIN is probably what you need to file your taxes:

  • You need to file taxes but are not a US resident (do not qualify for a Green Card or a SSN).
  • You are considered a resident because you have spent at least 31 days in the US this year and a combined total of 183 days in the past three years.
  • You are married to a US citizen or resident, but are not a resident yourself.
  • You are the child or dependent of a US citizen or resident, but are not a resident yourself.
  • You qualify for and are claiming a tax treaty benefit.
  • You are a nonresident student, professor, or researcher and need to file your taxes.

If any of these circumstances sound like your scenario, you may need to apply for an ITIN.

Still not sure? Fill out this short ITIN questionnaire. It will help you determine whether an ITIN is right for you or not.

Has your ITIN expired?

Maybe you already have an ITIN.

It’s super important to make sure it is still active.

Here’s how to know if yours has expired:

  • If you haven’t used your ITIN in the past three years, it will expire this year on December 31.
  • If you have an ITIN and the two middle numbers are “88”, your ITIN will expire on December 31, 2020.
  • If the two middle numbers on your ITIN card range from 70 to 87, your ITIN has already expired. You will need to apply for a new one.
  • Any ITIN with the two middle numbers as 90 - 92 and 94 - 99 will expire on December 31, 2020, if issued in 2013 or earlier.

How do I apply for an ITIN?

Alright, so you’ve determined that what you need is an ITIN. Great!

What now?

Here’s the good news…

You can apply for an ITIN in 3 easy steps. Here’s how to get your ITIN quickly:

Step 1. First, fill out an IRS form called the W-7.

Here’s a link to the PDF version of the W-7 on the IRS website.

Step 2. File the W-7 form with the IRS.

Ok, you’ve filled out the W-7 form. Now what do you do with it?

It needs to be filed with the IRS. You can do this by printing and mailing a physical copy to:

Internal Revenue Service
ITIN Operation
P.O. Box 149342
Austin, TX 78714-9342

You can also turn in your copy to your local IRS office called: IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers (TACs). If you’re not sure where one is, try Googling for “IRS office near me.”

Unfortunately, there is currently no way to submit your ITIN form to the IRS online.

Step 3: Include Required Documentation

Depending on why you're applying for an ITIN and whether you’re applying for the first time or not, you may need to include specific documentation.

The most common paperwork you will need to send with your ITIN are:

  • Tax return
  • At least one of the following:
  • Birth certificate if under 18
  • Driver’s license
  • Identification card
  • Military card
  • Passport
  • State ID Card
  • Visa (Green Card)

It’s best to speak with an IRS agent before sending in your W-7. Otherwise, you could send the wrong documents with the application and delay the process.

The IRS says that, on average, it takes about 7 weeks to get your ITIN. So be sure to apply well before the deadline.

Need Help Applying For An ITIN?

Midwest Finance is happy to help… for FREE!

Contact us anytime if you need assistance applying for an ITIN. Our Tax Preparers are experts and will gladly help you get the documentation you need to get your ITIN quickly.

Contact a Midwest location near you for FREE assistance — 325-235-8511.