Question: What is IRS Form W-7 and when is it needed?
Answer: An ITIN is a tax processing number, issued by the Internal Revenue Service, for certain U.S. resident and nonresident aliens, their spouses, and their dependents. It is a nine-digit number beginning with the number “9”, has a range of numbers from “70” to “88” for the fourth and fifth digits and is formatted like a SSN (i.e. 9XX-7X-XXXX).
Use Form W-7 to apply for an IRS individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN). An ITIN is a nine-digit number issued by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to individuals who are required for U.S. tax purposes to have a U.S. taxpayer identification number but who do not have and are not eligible to get a social security number (SSN). The ITIN is for federal tax purposes only.
Social Security Number. Do not complete Form W-7 if you have an SSN or you are eligible to get an SSN. You are eligible for an SSN if you are a U.S. citizen or if you have been admitted by the United States for permanent residence or U.S. employment.
- Does not authorize work in the U.S. or provide eligibility for Social Security Benefits or the Earned Income Tax Credit.
- Is not valid for identification outside of the tax system.
- Does not establish immigration status.
Who Must Apply for an ITIN
Any individual who is not eligible to get an SSN but who must furnish a taxpayer identification number must apply for an ITIN on Form W-7. Examples include the following.
- A nonresident alien individual eligible to get the benefit of reduced withholding under an income tax treaty. See Pub. 515, Withholding of Tax on Nonresident Aliens and Foreign Entities.
- A nonresident alien individual not eligible for an SSN who is required to file a U.S. tax return or who is filing a U.S. tax return only to claim a refund.
- A nonresident alien individual not eligible for an SSN who elects to file a joint U.S. tax return with a spouse who is a U.S. citizen or resident alien.
- A U.S. resident alien (based on the substantial presence test) who files a U.S. tax return but who is not eligible for an SSN. For information about the substantial presence test, see Pub. 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens.
- An alien spouse claimed as an exemption on a U.S. tax return who is not eligible to get an SSN.
- An alien individual eligible to be claimed as a dependent on a U.S. tax return but who is not eligible to get an SSN. To determine if an alien individual is eligible to be claimed as a dependent on a U.S. tax return, see Pub. 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information, and Pub. 519.
- A nonresident alien student, professor, or researcher who is required to file a U.S. tax return but who is not eligible for an SSN, or who is claiming an exception to the tax return filing requirement.
- A dependent/spouse of a nonresident alien holding a U.S. visa who is not eligible for an SSN.