About The ITIN – Individual Taxpayer Identification Number

If you earn money in the United States, whether you are a resident or immigrant (non-resident), documented or undocumented, you will have to file taxes. If you cannot obtain a social security number, then you will need to obtain an Individual Tax Identification Number, also known as an ITIN, to file your United States income taxes.

What is the Individual Tax Identification Number?

The ITIN is a number that is issued by the IRS to process taxes for people that do not possess and are not eligible for a Social Security Number. This ensures that everyone that works in the United States, regardless of immigration status, can pay taxes.

Is the Individual Tax Identification Number the Same as a Social Security Number?

The Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) is not the same as a Social Security Number. If you are eligible for a social security number, then you cannot get an ITIN. In addition, having an ITIN does not make you eligible for Social Security Benefits.

Who Needs an ITIN?

Anyone who is required to file a United States income tax return but is not eligible for a Social Security Number needs an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number to file taxes. Unauthorized immigrants, their spouses and dependents who cannot qualify for a Social Security Number will need an ITIN in order to be included on a tax return. If you have dependents that live in Canada or Mexico and you pay more than 50 percent of their living expenses, you can apply for an ITIN for each of them and include them on your tax return. This may decrease the amount of money that you owe in taxes.

What Are the Benefits of Having an ITIN?

Applying for an ITIN offers a number of benefits for immigrants that are not eligible for a social security card. Here are just a few of them:

  • It allows you to pay income taxes, which are required by law. Even if you are not authorized to work in the U.S., you must still pay taxes by law. Having an ITIN helps you file your income tax return, in compliance with United States law.
  • Although you are not eligible for Social Security benefits without a Social Security Card, if you become eligible for one in the future, the earnings that you report with your ITIN might count towards as earnings for Social Security purposes.
  • With an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, you might be able to open an interest-bearing bank account at some financial institutions.
  • You can obtain a driver’s license using an ITIN in states that allow undocumented immigrants to get licenses. Currently, only 12 states plus the District of Columbia allow undocumented immigrants to obtain a license. In those states, you might be able to use your ITIN for the license. It is best to check with the individual state that you are applying for a license in whether or not an ITIN is needed to obtain a license.
  • The ITIN can be used to show how many years you have resided in the United States if you ever need to provide United States residency in the future. For instance, if you do apply for legal residency in the United States in the future, having an ITIN can be invaluable in proving to immigration officials how many years you have resided and paid taxes in the United States.

Can I Use an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number for Employment?

Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers are generally used for tax purposes. They are not valid for identification and cannot be used on an I-9 form for work purposes.

Will I Be Reported to Immigration Services If I Have an ITIN?

If you are working in the United States illegally, having an ITIN will allow you to file your taxes without fear of deportation. The Individual Taxpayer Identification Number is not used to enforce immigration laws. The IRS, or Internal Revenue Service respects taxpayers privacy and does not share information about ITINs to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or Immigration Services.

Can I Use My ITIN to Apply for Bank Accounts and Credit Cards?

Although an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number is not technically used for applying for loans or credit cards, some financial institutions and credit unions will allow individuals to apply for checking, savings, credit card accounts and home loans using an ITIN. It is up to the individual bank as to whether or not they accept the ITIN for this purpose.

Where Can I Get More Information About the ITIN or Help Filing Taxes?

If you are an undocumented worker in the United States, it is important to understand that you must pay income taxes, as it a crime to not pay taxes on income that you make regardless of your immigration status. It is always a good idea to consult with a tax professional such as Tax Samaritan to assist you with filing a tax return, especially if you are not a legal resident of the United States, as it can be quite complicated to understand the United States tax code. If you need more information about the Individual Taxpayer Identification Number or have questions about filing income taxes, please contact Tax Samaritan.