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Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)

What is an ITIN?

An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is a tax processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service. It is a nine-digit number that always begins with the number 9 and has a range of 70-88 in the fourth and fifth digit, example 9XX-70-XXXX.

IRS issues ITINs to individuals who are required to have a U.S. taxpayer identification number but who do not have, and are not eligible to obtain, a Social Security Number (SSN) from the Social Security Administration (SSA).

ITINs are issued regardless of immigration status because both resident and nonresident aliens may have a U.S. filing or reporting requirement under the Internal Revenue Code. Individuals must have a filing requirement and file a valid federal income tax return to receive an ITIN, unless they meet an exception.

What is an ITIN used for?

ITINs are for federal tax reporting only, and are not intended to serve any other purpose. IRS issues ITINs to help individuals comply with the U.S. tax laws, and to provide a means to efficiently process and account for tax returns and payments for those not eligible for Social Security Numbers (SSNs). An ITIN does not authorize work in the U.S. or provide eligibility for Social Security benefits or the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Who needs an ITIN?

IRS issues ITINs to foreign nationals and others who have federal tax reporting or filing requirements and do not qualify for SSNs. A nonresident alien individual not eligible for a SSN who is required to file a U.S. tax return only to claim a refund of tax under the provisions of a U.S. tax treaty needs an ITIN.

Other examples of individuals who need ITINs include:

  • A nonresident alien required to file a U.S. tax return
  • A U.S. resident alien (based on days present in the United States) filing a U.S. tax return
  • A dependent or spouse of a U.S. citizen/resident alien
  • A dependent or spouse of a nonresident alien visa holder (under certain circumstances)

How do I know if I need an ITIN?

If you do not have a SSN and are not eligible to obtain a SSN, but you have a requirement to furnish a federal tax identification number or file a federal income tax return, you must apply for an ITIN. If you have an application for a SSN pending, do not file Form W-7. Complete the Form W-7 ITIN application only if the Social Security Administration (SSA) notifies you that a SSN cannot be issued.

When should I apply for an ITIN?

You should complete Form W-7 (PDF) as soon as you are ready to file your federal income tax return, because you need to attach the return to your application.

If you meet one of the exceptions to the tax filing requirement, submit Form W-7, along with the documents that prove your identity and foreign status and the required supplemental documents to substantiate your qualification for the exception, as soon as possible after you determine that you are covered by that exception.

You can apply for an ITIN consistent with these requirements any time during the year; however, if the tax return you attach to Form W-7 is filed after the return's due date, you may owe interest and/or penalties. You should file your current year return by the prescribed due date to avoid this.

Where can I get help with my ITIN application?

You must attach your ITIN application to your federal income tax return BEFORE mailing your return. The MSU College of Law Tax Clinic will provide help in completing your ITIN application, on Saturdays, 8 a.m. , MSU Engineering Bldg, Room 1345, on the following dates: March 15, 22 ONLY!

ALL persons needing an ITIN must be present to have the W-7 prepared – this means that if your spouse or children need ITINs, they must come to the ITIN session. Also, all persons needing an ITIN must bring their passports and Visa.


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