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Feb 25, 2021 | Dashiell Allen and Roberto Bolaños

ITIN Number: Another Way To Pay Taxes As An Immigrant

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Foreigners in the United States who are not eligible for a Social Security Number (SSN) to file their taxes can use an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) instead. It is issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and it is also known as a Tax ID. 

Documented spoke with Ahmad Elmaradny, Director of Tax and Income Support at Urban Upbound, and Gregory Blackmon, Tax Program Manager at the Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation. Here is what they recommend when applying for a Tax ID Numbers. 

What is an ITIN used for and what are the benefits of having one?

Elmaradny said that an ITIN is used primarily for filing taxes with the IRS, but that it can also be beneficial and used as proof to open a bank account, apply for a New York State driver’s license, open credit cards, and, at times, to rent an apartment.

Having an ITIN can make holders, who have U.S.-born children, qualify for child tax credits, and collect the refunds. Paying taxes with ITIN could also support a citizenship application, Blackmon said. 

What is an ITIN not used for and who is eligible for it? 

Any person that does not qualify for a SSN and who earns income in the United States can apply for an ITIN. You can only apply for an ITIN when filing taxes after earning $400 or more in the previous tax year.

An investor or entrepreneur from other countries who has money invested in a business in the United States can also apply.  

Elmaradny and Blackmon explained that an ITIN does not change your immigration status. It does not replace work permits and that it is primarily used for tax related purposes.

“People think that this is the first step so they can find jobs, while it’s actually the second step after they work, after they make money and they have to pay taxes,” Elmaradny said. 

How to apply for an ITIN: 

You will need to file the form W-7, and include your full name, mailing address in the United States, and a foreign address. 

According to Elmaradny, applicants must submit their W-7 along with an unexpired passport, or two of the following documents: 

  • Foreign national identification ID with an address on it
  • Foreign birth certificate
  • Foreign driver’s license
  • Foreign military card
  • U.S. state driver’s license
  • USCIS photo identification

Elmaradny recommends people to apply before “tax season,” well ahead of April 15 to ensure they are ready to file their taxes. 

Local IDs, like New York City’s IDNYC, are not acceptable.

How to submit an ITIN (Form W-7) application?

You can mail your W-7 along with your United States federal income tax return (if applicable), or other required documents under an exception, and the documents listed under Requirements for Supporting Documents, above, to:

Internal Revenue Service

ITIN Operation 

P.O. Box 149342 

Austin, TX 78714-9342

  • Or by a private delivery service to: 

ITIN Operation

Mail Stop 6090-AUSC

3651 S. Interregional, Hwy 35

Austin, TX 78741-0000

Another way to apply is by visiting a taxpayer assistance center that can verify your documentation. In most cases you will not need to give up your original documents. Centers can be found at this link by entering your address. You must bring your completed tax return with you, and all people applying for an ITIN must be present. These centers do not provide assistance with tax preparation. Call (844) 545-5640 to make an appointment. 

Apply in-person by visiting an IRS-authorized certifying agent, who can authenticate your documents and assist with tax preparation. This way you do not have to mail in your documents. 

How long does the process take? 

The time from submitting a W-7 form to receiving an ITIN number can take up to four months, Blackmon said. “Some people seem to be processed quicker, relative to people who may have applied around the same time.”

When to renew an ITIN?

“Every year the IRS gives us a [list of] two middle numbers, and whoever holds an ITIN with those two middle numbers has to renew it,” Elmaradny said. “Normally it’s for ITINs that have passed 10 years.” 

The IRS will also send out a notice to holders of an ITIN, informing them they need to renew. 

If you submitted your tax returns without realizing your ITIN was expired, you can send a new W-7 form later, Elmaradny said, adding that it can also delay or prevent refunds. 

Are there any risks to undocumented immigrants applying? 

The IRS does not share information about ITIN holders with immigration agencies. “I can understand that there’s a lot of fear for a lot of people to give any information to the federal government,” Elmaradny said.  “As long as they collect their money, they don’t care what your status is.” 

Organizations helping New Yorkers apply for an ITIN:

Emerald Isle Immigration Center (EIIC)

Contact Information: Phone: (718) 324-3039 ext. 101. 

Website: https://eiic.org/  | Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EIICNY 

Urban Upbound

Contact Information: Phone Number: 862-397-0457. 

Website: https://urbanupbound.org/ | Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/urbanupboundny


Address: Spring Bank, 69 East 167th Street, Bronx, NY 10452

Contact information: You must call 718-292-2983 or email info@ariva.org to book an appointment.

Website: https://ariva.org/ 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/arivaimpact 

Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation 

Address: 45 Wadsworth Avenue, New York, NY 10033

Contact information: call 929-415-8745 or email nmic.org/taxes to book an appointment.Website: https://www.nmic.org/taxes/

Also read: What is a REAL ID and how to get one?

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