IRS Notice 2016-48, released on August 4, 2016, outlines the new procedures by the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act enacted by Congress in December 2015.

An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is a tax processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS issues ITINs to individuals who are required to have a U.S. taxpayer identification number but who do not have, and are not eligible to obtain, a Social Security number (SSN) from the Social Security Administration (SSA).

The IRS issues ITINs regardless of immigration status, because both resident and nonresident aliens may have a U.S. filing or reporting requirement under the Internal Revenue Code. They do not serve any purpose other than federal tax reporting. An ITIN does not authorize work in the U.S. or provide eligibility for Social Security benefits or the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Do I need an ITIN?

You must obtain an ITIN if:
1. You do not have an SSN and are not eligible to obtain one.
2. You identify with one of the following categories.
• Nonresident alien who is required to file a U.S. tax return.
• U.S. resident alien who is (based on days present in the United States) filing a U.S. tax return.
• Dependent or spouse of a U.S. citizen/resident alien.
• Dependent or spouse of a nonresident alien visa holder.

How do I get one?

Option 1
You can file Form W-7, Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, with your federal income tax return. You must also include original documentation or certified copies from the issuing agency to prove identity and foreign status. If you qualify for an exception, then file Form W-7 with your proof of identity and foreign status documents.

Mail your W-7, tax return, proof of identity, and foreign status documents to:
Internal Revenue Service
Austin Service Center
ITIN Operation
P.O. Box 149342
Austin, TX 78714-9342

You will only file a tax return to the address above once, when you file Form W-7 to get an ITIN. In subsequent years, when you have an ITIN, you will file your Form 1040, 1040A, and 1040EZ as directed in the form instructions.

Option 2

You can apply for an ITIN in-person using the services of an IRS-authorized Certified Acceptance Agent or visit an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center. This will prevent you from having to mail your proof of identity and foreign status documents. After processing, the IRS will issue your ITIN through the mail. You will then file your Form 1040, 1040A, and 1040EZ as directed in the form instructions.

When should I apply?

You can apply for an ITIN any time during the year when you have a filing or reporting requirement. At a minimum, you should complete Form W-7 when you are ready to file your federal income tax return by the return’s prescribed due date. If the tax return you attach to Form W-7 is filed after the return’s due date, you may owe interest and/or penalties.

How long does it take?

You will receive a letter from the IRS assigning your tax identification number usually within seven weeks if you qualify for an ITIN and your application is complete.

Who can I call for help?

You can call the IRS toll-free at 800-829-1040 if you are in the United States or 267-941-1000 (not a toll-free number) if you are outside the United States. This service allows you to check the status of your application seven weeks after submitting Form W-7 and your tax return.

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