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  • Writer's pictureGlenn Hernandez

What You Need to Know About the ITIN: What It Is and Who Needs It?

What is the ITIN?

The Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is a nine-digit number issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to individuals who need a taxpayer identification number in the United States but are not eligible for a Social Security Number (SSN).

This number allows individuals to comply with their tax obligations regardless of their immigration status. The ITIN follows the format of an SSN (XXX-XX-XXXX) but starts with the number 9 and has specific ranges of numbers in the fourth and fifth positions: 70-88, 90-92, and 94-99 (Díaz, 2021).

Who Needs an ITIN?

The IRS establishes who must obtain an ITIN. The main categories include:

  • Individuals who need to file a tax return or have a reporting requirement under U.S. law but are not eligible for an SSN.

  • Non-resident aliens who need to file a U.S. tax return.

  • Resident aliens (as defined by the IRS) who need to file a U.S. tax return.

  • Dependents or spouses of U.S. citizens or residents.

  • Dependents or spouses of non-resident aliens who have a visa.

  • Foreign investors in U.S. real estate who need to pay taxes on investment gains.

How to Obtain an ITIN?

To obtain an ITIN, the individual must complete IRS Form W-7, Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. This form must be submitted along with a valid federal tax return unless the individual meets a specific exception. Additionally, documentation that verifies the applicant’s identity and foreign status must be provided.

Accepted documents include:

  • Passport (the most common document).

  • National identification documents that include a photograph.

  • Birth certificate.

  • U.S. or foreign driver’s license.

  • U.S. state identification card.

It is important to note that the ITIN is essential for all individuals, regardless of their immigration status, to fulfill their tax obligations in the U.S. It also allows individuals to participate in the country’s tax system, which can be beneficial for those seeking to regularize their immigration status in the future.

In general, obtaining an ITIN is an administrative process that requires proper documentation and often the assistance of a tax professional to ensure accuracy in the submission of information, complying with all rules and regulations established by the IRS.


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