Can a Person File Taxes With an ITIN?

by Stephanie Ellen

An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number is a nine-digit number issued by the Internal Revenue Service and used for tax reporting purposes. When you file federal taxes, the IRS requires you to provide an ITIN. If you don't have a Social Security number, an ITIN identifies you as a taxpayer on your return.

Who Needs an ITIN?

If you do not have an SSN and are not eligible for one, you may be eligible to receive an ITIN if you: want to claim a tax treaty benefit; are a nonresident alien filing a U.S. tax return; are a nonresident alien filing a U.S. tax return to get a refund; are a U.S. resident alien who needs to file a tax return; or a student, professor or researcher who is a nonresident alien filing a U.S. tax return.

ITIN Acceptance Agents

An ITIN acceptance agent can assist you with getting an ITIN. The agent will review your documents to ensure that you are eligible to receive a number and will help you fill out the form. Agents can be found in almost every locale and range from agents at nonprofit organizations who assist people within the organization to private firms who charge a fee to help you fill out the application.

Caution

An ITIN's purpose is to enable people ineligible for SSNs to file taxes. Unlike an SSN, it cannot be used as proof of eligibility for employment. It is against the law to obtain and use an ITIN to give to a prospective landlord for a credit search or to open a bank account.

How to Get an ITIN

In general, to get an ITIN you must fill out Form W-7 and attach it to a federal income tax return. The IRS takes approximately six to nine weeks to process ITIN applications, after which time it will send you a letter in the mail with your ITIN. You will not receive an ITIN card -- your letter will be the only proof of your ITIN.

About the Author

Stephanie Ellen teaches mathematics and statistics at the university and college level. She coauthored a statistics textbook published by Houghton-Mifflin. She has been writing professionally since 2008. Ellen holds a Bachelor of Science in health science from State University New York, a master's degree in math education from Jacksonville University and a Master of Arts in creative writing from National University.

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