December 16, 1996
IRS Helps Taxpayers Avoid Refund Delays
WASHINGTON - The Internal Revenue Service has mailed a tax tip
to over 300,000 taxpayers, alerting them that the identification
numbers they used on their last tax returns could delay their
refunds next year. As a convenience, the mailing also contained the
forms to be used to apply for appropriate identification numbers.
The IRS letter explained that the law now requires every
individual listed on a tax return to have either a social security
number (SSN) or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).
The ITINs, which the IRS issues, are new this year. The IRS can no
longer accept temporary numbers, "applied for" or other designations
in lieu of the required numbers.
The mailing included Form SS-5, used to apply for an SSN from
the Social Security Administration, and Form W-7, used to apply for
an ITIN from the IRS. U.S. citizens and aliens who have been
lawfully admitted for permanent residence or employment must obtain
SSNs. Those who do not qualify for SSNs but who need identification
numbers for federal tax purposes must obtain ITINs. Taxpayers
needing ITINs should give themselves at least a month before they
plan to file their tax returns to obtain the numbers.
Failure to put valid numbers on a tax return may mean a delay
or reduction in any refund claimed. If an invalid number is used
for a taxpayer or spouse, the IRS may delay the refund until it
resolves the matter. If the incorrect number is for a dependent,
the IRS may disallow related items such as the personal exemption,
child care credit, or earned income credit and the taxpayer will
receive either a smaller refund or a tax bill. When claiming the
earned income credit, only SSNs, not ITINs, may be used by the
taxpayer, spouse or qualifying child.
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