The Internal Revenue Service uses Social Security Numbers (SSN) to identify most people on their tax returns. Some noncitizens, however, are not eligible to receive an SSN, and they must apply for an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) with Form W-7. This guide explains who needs to use Form W-7, and it provides an overview of how to file this document with the IRS.
What to Include on Form W-7
Form W-7 requires you to explain why you need an ITIN and requests info to identify yourself to the IRS. You need the following details to complete this form correctly:
Reason for Application
Form W-7 has several check boxes that show the main reasons most people need to apply for an ITIN. You should choose the option that applies the best if multiple situations apply. Some applicants need an ITIN so they can claim a tax treaty benefit or file a U.S. federal tax return as a resident or nonresident alien. Others fill out this form because they are the spouse or dependent of a U.S. citizen or resident alien.
Identification and Contact Details
Applicants also need to include details about themselves, such as their name, birth date, location of birth, and country of citizenship, as well as their mailing address and other contact details. They should also include their foreign tax ID number and their U.S. visa number if they have this info.
Details About Identification Documents
The IRS accepts a variety of identification documents so applicants can prove who they are when applying. The options include a:
- USCIS photo ID
- Visa from the U.S. Department of State
- U.S. or foreign driver’s license
- U.S. or foreign military ID card
- U.S. or national ID card
- Foreign voter registration card
- Civil birth certificate
Dependents under the age of 6 may submit medical records, and students under 18 may use school records. Most applicants must submit at least two documents to prove their ID unless they use a passport.
You can use Form W-7 to apply for a new ITIN or to renew an expired one. The ITIN, however, is only for filing federal tax returns. You cannot use this number to gain employment or for any other reason.
How to Submit Form W-7
You should submit Form W-7 with the federal tax return that requires you to have an ITIN. Follow these steps to apply:
Filling Out Your Tax Return
You should leave blank the spots that ask for your SSN or ITIN if you submit Form W-7. The IRS will complete these fields when it processes your request for an ITIN.
Submitting Tax Returns With Form W-7
You cannot submit your tax return electronically if you are attaching Form W-7. You must submit the tax return and Form W-7 in person at an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center or through the mail. Attach the form to the front of your tax return. You can attach multiple W-7 forms if several people on the tax return need an ITIN.
Attaching Supporting Documents
You must send originals or certified copies of your identification documents. Copies can be certified by the issuing agency, or the officers at U.S. embassies and consulates overseas can certify and authenticate some documents.
The information on the documents must match that on your application. The name, date of birth, and country of citizenship on the supporting documents must be the same as on Form W-7, for example.
Dealing With Deceased Taxpayers
People who have died during the tax year often need to file tax returns or have their information included on other people’s returns. Taxpayers can claim a qualifying person as their spouse or dependent, for instance, for the entire year if they died in the middle of the tax year. The deceased person must meet the requirements for obtaining an ITIN, and in addition to adding their identification documents, you should write “deceased” on the top of every page of Form W-7.
Processing the Request
The IRS takes six to 10 weeks to issue an ITIN. Your tax return will not be processed until this number has been issued, and you will not receive any refunds or updates until it has been processed.
Some people need an ITIN before they file their federal tax returns. This happens if you pay quarterly income taxes in advance or request extra time to file your federal income tax return. Do not file Form W-7 with these forms; write “ITIN to be requested” on every blank that asks for an SSN or ITIN.
Mistakes to Avoid When Filing Form W-7
Form W-7 is relatively short and easy, but the United States has one of the most complex tax codes in the world, making even “short and easy” forms complicated. Avoid these common mistakes when completing this form:
- Don’t submit W-7 on its own. Make sure it’s with a tax return.
- Don’t send copies of documents unless they are certified. Send originals.
- Make sure to use the ITIN right away. An ITIN not used at least once every three years will expire.
- Don’t use expired ITINs, or the IRS will not be able to process your tax return.
ITINs issued before 2013 expire on a staggered schedule based on the middle numbers of the ITIN. ITINs with middle digits ranging from 70 to 88 expired as of October 2021, and ITINs issued before 2013 with middle digits from 90 through 99 expired on the last day of 2020.
Contact Silver Tax Group Today With Questions About Form W-7
Dealing with the IRS can be complicated and frustrating. It can also lead to excessive tax liabilities for people who don’t understand the rules.
The Silver Tax Group is a team of seasoned attorneys who can help with any tax issue you may be having, from questions about filing taxes to disputes with the IRS. Contact us at our office today to talk about Form W-7 or other tax-related issues.