Form W-7s and ITINs

If you are not eligible to get a social security number, you may be assigned an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

These are nine-digit numbers given out by the IRS for tax reporting purposes. They are issued to residents and nonresidents regardless of alien status.

This article will discuss ITINs, what they are used for, and how you can use a W-7 form to attain one. 

How Do You Get an ITIN Number?

You can get an ITIN number by filling out a W-7 form. In addition to the form, you will also have to provide identification documents which must be submitted within 12 months of applying.

The documents you submit must have your name and photograph and they must establish your residential status. Accepted documents include: 

  • Passports (stand-alone document)
  • U.S. driver’s license
  • Civil birth certificate (required for dependents under 18)
  • U.S. state ID
  • National identification card showing name, photo, current address, date of birth, and expiration date)
  • Foreign driver’s license
  • U.S. military ID
  • Foreign military ID
  • Visa
  • Foreign voter’s registration card
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) photo ID
  • Medical records (only for dependents under 6)
  • School records (only for dependents under 14 or under 18 if they are a student) 

In most instances, you will be able to submit all documentation by mail. If you are required to submit them in person, you may do so at an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center or CAA. You may also be able to submit certified copies directly from the issuing agency.

Take note, if you are submitting a passport as ID, it must be a standalone document. This means that, unless the person is from Canada or Mexico or the dependent of a military member serving overseas, the passport must have a date of entry. If the passport has a date of entry, it will be the only acceptable document that establishes both identity and foreign status.

If the passport does not have a date of entry, you will need to submit additional documentation. The following forms will be accepted in establishing proof of residence:

  • Children under 6 will need to show a U.S. school record, a U.S. medical record, a U.S. visa or a U.S. ID card that shows the child’s name and address.

  • Minors 6-18 years old will need to show a U.S. school record, a U.S. visa, a U.S. ID card, or a U.S. driver’s license that shows their name and address.

  • People 18 and over will need to show a U.S. school record, a rental statement or utility bill from a U.S. property, a U.S. visa, a U.S. bank statement, or a U.S. driver’s license or ID card with the person’s name and address.

Why Get an ITIN Number?

The main reason to get an ITIN number is for tax purposes. But it also comes with other perks. These include: 

Some Financial Institutions allow You to Open a Personal Checking Account: An ITIN will work just as well as a social security number when it comes to opening a personal checking account. This can save you a good amount of money on check cashing fees. 

You Can Purchase Low-Cost Health Insurance for Your Children: While the Affordable Care Act will not allow people with ITINs to get health insurance, they will be able to get their U.S. born children insured. They will need to file their taxes for their children to be eligible.

You Can Save for Retirement: All taxpayers make social security payments regardless of their immigrant status. Individuals with an ITIN are not eligible for social security benefits. However, if you become approved for a social security number later in life, you will be able to claim your benefits including the ones you paid while holding an ITIN.

It Keeps Your Identity Safe: An ITIN is purely a taxing tool; it is not given to immigration. The IRS will keep it safe as privacy is key to tax compliance. Therefore, it will never be shared to immigration enforcement agencies. 

What is an H4 Visa, and Can They Get an ITIN Number?

An H4 visa is a temporary, nonimmigrant visa category for the dependents of individuals in one of the following nonimmigrant visa categories: 

  • H1-B: Workers in a specialty occupation
  • H2-A: Temporary or seasonal agricultural workers
  • H2-B: Temporary or seasonal non-agricultural workers
  • H-3: Non-immigrant trainees who are not working in medical or academic industries
  • H1-B: Trabajadores en una ocupación especializada
  • H2-A: Trabajadores agrícolas temporales o estacionales
  • H2-B: Trabajadores temporales o estacionales no agrícolas
  • H-3: Aprendices no inmigrantes que no están trabajando en industrias médicas o académicas 

The visa allows them to travel with or into the country to reunite with the principal visa holder. While H4 visas are not eligible for social security numbers, they can obtain ITINs. 

What is an Acceptance Agent?

An acceptance agent is a person or entity who has a written agreement with the IRS allowing them to process tax forms for people who do not qualify for a social security number and do not yet have an ITIN. They facilitate the application process by helping the person gather and fill out the necessary documents and forwarding them to the IRS. 

How Long Does the ITIN Process Take?

If you complete the necessary forms properly, you will typically get your ITIN from the IRS within 7 weeks. It will come in the mail.

What is the Process for Renewing Your ITIN?

Your ITIN will expire unless you used it at least once within a three-year period. To renew your ITIN, you must submit a W7 form along with your U.S. tax return and your identification documents. You will also need to provide the reason why you need your ITIN renewed in accordance with the form instructions. You must then mail all documents to the IRS.

When Should I Apply for an ITIN?

You should apply for an ITIN any time you have a filing requirement. At the latest, you should complete your W7 when you are ready to fill out your tax return. You may submit both the tax return and W7 together. If the tax return is received after the due date, you may be facing penalties.