What is Form W-7: IRS Individual Taxpayer ID Application - Tax Professionals Member Article By Tiffany Gaskin
Posted by Tiffany Gaskin

What is Form W-7: IRS Individual Taxpayer ID Application

What is Form W-7: IRS Individual Taxpayer ID Application

Every U.S. citizen has a social security number with which the IRS identifies them. However, not everyone with obligations to the IRS has a social security number. Non-citizens sometimes have to deal with the IRS and pay taxes as well. But how does the IRS identify them? There is a way by which the IRS determines those without SSN, primarily foreign nationals who have to deal with them.

The way out is the ITIN.

What is ITIN?

Several people have to deal with the IRS who do not have the right to work in the United States. But sometimes, such people, primarily non-citizens and dependents of citizens who aren't legal residents, may have filings to do or refunds to claim. Some of them have sources of income in the United States despite not being citizens. Without a social security number, these people need a means of identification. That's what the independent taxpayer identification number is meant for. 

The (ITIN) individual taxpayer identification number, is a 9-digit number issued by Uncle Sam to people who are not qualified for a social security number, with which the IRS identifies them. Application for the ITIN is done through Form W-7, sent to the Internal Revenue Service.

Having the ITIN does not in any way change the immigrant status of the person applying, and the IRS would only treat it seriously if the person applying is deemed to need it. 

The ITIN has an expiry date and can be renewed once expired. It expires after it remains unused for three years.

The IRS instructs that the application for the ITIN should only be done for those who would not be able to obtain the SSN in the future. To apply for the ITIN, Form W-7 is used. Once submitted, the IRS reviews and provides the applicant with the number.


Form W-7

The Form W-7 is used mainly for two purposes:

  • Applying for ITIN

  • Renewing the ITIN

The Form W-7 supplies information to the person who needs the identification. After completing the Form W-7, the application needs to also provide some additional information, including the tax return that the number is required for and a valid I.D. Most times, the passport is the most appropriate means of identification. Still, in the absence of one, any I.D. that confirms the applicant's status as a foreign national, like a birth certificate would do. For a passport it must have an entry date into the United States.

Once the application is reviewed, the IRS provides the applicant with the number within eight weeks.

The Form W-7, after completion, is sent to the IRS office known as the Taxpayer Assistance Center for review. 


Additional information

Renewal of ITIN is only necessary for reporting tax returns. If you only use your ITIN for information purposes, renewal may not be required. If a dependent is not eligible for any tax benefits, they are not required to get an ITIN. If they've had one, renewal may be unnecessary. Also, dependents must clearly state their relationship with the U.S. citizen(s) before their application is processed. This is addressed in Form W-7.

Note also that International Tax Identification Number does not in any way entitle the application to social security or tax credit benefits. It also does not alter the immigrant status of the applicant. 

Also, anyone who has ever had a (SSN) social security number or may be eligible for one need not apply for an individual taxpayer identification number.


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Tiffany Gaskin
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