1997 Tax Help Archives  

Individual Taxpayer Identification Number - Form W-7

This is archived information that pertains only to the 1997 Tax Year. If you
are looking for information for the current tax year, go to the Tax Prep Help Area.

A taxpayer identification number must be furnished on all returns, statements, and other tax-related documents. For most individuals this is a Social Security Number, or SSN. If you are a foreign person who does not have and is not eligible to get an SSN, you must use an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or ITIN.

You need an ITIN if you are:

  • An alien required to file a U.S. tax return,
  • An nonresident alien electing to file a joint tax return with a spouse who is a U.S. citizen or resident,
  • Being claimed as a spouse for an exemption on a U.S. tax return,
  • Being claimed as a dependent on another person's U.S. tax return; or
  • Any other alien filing a tax return, an amended return, or a claim for refund.

The ITIN is issued for tax purposes only. It does not take the place of a social security number or entitle you to Social Security benefits. It does not affect your immigration status or give you the right to work in the United States.

You must file Form W-7 to apply for an ITIN. Along with the completed Form W-7, you must submit at least two identity documents. These documents are needed to verify both your identity and your foreign status; one should include a recent photograph. If you have one document that verifies both, such as a passport, then that one document is enough. If the ITIN is for a dependent, the documentation must prove that the dependent lives in the United States, Mexico, or Canada. If the dependent is a minor, the documentation must establish the relationship between the dependent and the adult, such as a birth certificate or adoption papers.

Examples of acceptable documentation include a passport, foreign voter registration card or military identification card, baptismal, birth, or marriage certificate, or U.S. immigration documents. Your documents must be original or certified copies.

You can apply for your ITIN by mail or in person at most IRS offices in the U.S.. If you apply in person, your documents will be reviewed and returned to you. Publication 1915, Understanding Your IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, has a list of IRS offices abroad which can accept Form W-7. If you apply by mail, use the address shown in the W-7 instructions and the Publication 1915. Once you have applied, you should get acknowledgment that your Form W-7 was received within 14 days; you should receive your ITIN within 5 to 6 weeks.

For more information, order Publication 1915. You may also want to see Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens. These publications, as well as the Form W-7, may be ordered by calling 1-800-829-3676.

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