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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 some benefits to having one?
While an ITIN is used primarily for filing taxes with the IRS, it can also be used to open a bank account, apply for a New York State driver’s license, open credit cards, and, at times, to rent an apartment, Elmaradny said.
ITIN holders who have U.S.-born children can qualify for child tax credits, and collect the refunds, he said. 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 is either paying taxes or whose employer is withholding taxes, can apply for an ITIN.
An investor or entrepreneur from other countries who has money invested in a business in the United States can also apply.
You can only apply for an ITIN when filing taxes after earning $400 or more in the previous tax year.
Note: An ITIN does not change your immigration status. It does not replace work permits, although both Elmaradny and Blackmon said that many employers require it from applicants.
“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.
Local IDs, like New York City’s IDNYC, are not acceptable.
These are your options to submit an application:
- 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
P.O. Box 149342
Austin, TX 78714-9342
- Or by a private delivery service to:
Mail Stop 6090-AUSC
3651 S. Interregional, Hwy 35
Austin, TX 78741-0000
- Visit 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. Note: 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.
Contact Information: Phone Number: 862-397-0457.
ATAX is a full-service national tax preparation and business services franchise. They serve clients in both English and Spanish. (Low cost)
Contact information: Visit website to find the contact of the location nearest to you: https://locatorloyaltybrands.mapwebserver10.com/Application/Locator/k6q7TicGRkaDKW1jVei8wA
Address: Spring Bank, 69 East 167th Street, Bronx, NY 10452
Contact information: You must call 718-292-2983 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to book an appointment.
Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation
Address: 45 Wadsworth Avenue, New York, NY 10033
Also read: What is a REAL ID and how to get one?