Individual Taxpayer Identification Number
An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is a United States tax processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service. It is a nine-digit number that begins with the number 9 and generally has a range of 70 to 99 (excluding 89 and 93) in the fourth and fifth digit, example 9XX-70-XXXX or 9XX-99-XXXX. ITIN numbers exist beyond these ranges, although still beginning with 9. They are issued to big groups of US corporation foreign employees, and the remaining digits correspond directly to the company's internal employee identifier. The IRS issues ITINs to individuals who are required to have a taxpayer identification number but who do not have, and are not eligible to obtain, a Social Security Number.
ITINs are issued regardless of immigration status because both resident and nonresident aliens may have Federal tax return and payment responsibilities under the Internal Revenue Code. Individuals must have a filing requirement and file a valid federal income tax return to receive an ITIN, unless they meet an exception. An ITIN application cannot be filed electronically (efile). The application, in most cases, should be attached to a valid federal income tax return.
The program was created in 1996 for the purpose of tax filing of individuals without a social security account number. Receiving an ITIN number does not in itself confer the right to work and receive income in the United States.
In 2006 1.4 million people used ITIN when filing taxes. Federal tax law prohibits the IRS from sharing data with other government agencies including the Department of Homeland Security, assuring unauthorized aliens that the tax information will be confidential and will not be used to initiate removal procedures.
ITINs are also used by real estate brokers to facilitate mortgages for unauthorized aliens. In addition to use by unauthorized aliens, ITINs are used by foreign investors in United States real estate. Such investors need ITINs to file federal and state tax returns to report rental income.
An individual who meets eligibility requirements can file an ITIN application himself or herself. This involves submitting IRS form W-7, which records biographical information, along with specified types of valid supporting ID and a tax return. The applicant can apply directly or file with a certifying acceptance agent, who can assist with the application process for a fee. ITINs can also be issued for a spouse or dependents, if documentation and signature requirements are met and they are claimed on a valid tax return.  Effective June 22, 2012 the IRS began requiring most applicants, even those using acceptance agents, to submit original supporting documents or copies certified by their issuing agency. The IRS will not accept notarized copies of the passport for ITIN application.
In 2012 the IRS indicated that ITINs would expire after 5 years, and in 2014, they amended that policy to only expire ITINs if they had not been used in the last 5 years. Under this revised policy all ITIN's must be used to file a return or they will expire and be reassigned. This now includes those issued before 2013. These changes go into effect in 2016.
- "General ITIN Information". May 25, 2011. Retrieved September 28, 2011.
- NY Times, April 16, 2007
- NY Times,April 15, 2003
- Alien vs Immigrant Comparison Chart
- U.S. Tax Program for Illegal Immigrants Under Fire NPR, March 5, 2007.
- Boston Globe, February 17, 2008
- Politics Undercut Mortgages For Illegal Workers by Nancy Mullane. Morning Edition, National Public Radio. November 4, 2008.
- "Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)". Irs.gov. Retrieved September 25, 2012.
- Unused ITINS to Expire After Five Years; New Uniform Policy Eases Burden on Taxpayers, Protects ITIN Integrity IRS, June 30, 2014.