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Understanding Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers

Gurian Group, P.A. Feb. 17, 2023

Business Acronym ITIN as Individual Taxpayer Identification NumbersImmigrants to the United States who do not qualify for a Social Security card are required to pay taxes for wages received. Without a Social Security Number (SSN), the only way to identify yourself on a tax return is by obtaining an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  

To qualify for an SSN, you must have legal resident status through employment or other visas. The Social Security Administration (SSA) on its website, states that “only noncitizens authorized to work in the United States by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) can get an SSN.” This means that those who are undocumented or otherwise unable to apply for an SSN and are gainfully employed must obtain an ITIN.  

The IRS does not share taxpayer information with immigration officials, so filing a tax return as a noncitizen does not expose you to any threat of deportation. By law, the IRS cannot release tax returns to any government agency unless under a federal court order relating to a crime other than taxes.  

If you have questions about obtaining an ITIN or any other immigration concern in or around Miami and surrounding areas, contact me at the Gurian Group, P.A., for legal help. I am an immigration attorney with more than 15 years of experience helping immigrants achieve their goals and overcome administrative hurdles in starting their new life in the United States. 

Are Immigrants Required to Pay Taxes?

The answer is yes. Any person or entity in the United States that earns income is required to pay taxes. Since Florida is a no-personal-income-tax state, a non-SSN-eligible immigrant living here will be subject only to federal taxation. For this, you need an ITIN. 

Who Needs an ITIN? 

Non-SSA-eligible foreign nationals who should obtain an ITIN to pay federal taxes include:  

  • Those who are nonresident aliens but earn income.  

  • Those who are dependents or spouses of a U.S. citizen or resident alien. 

  • Those who are dependents or spouses of a nonresident alien visa hold. 

  • Those nonresident aliens who are claiming a tax treaty benefit. 

  • Those who are nonresident students, professors, or researchers who are filing a U.S. tax return or claiming an exemption. 

What Is the ITIN Used For

ITINs do not serve any purpose beyond filing federal (or state) tax returns. They do not authorize the recipient to work in the U.S. or obtain legal residency status, provide eligibility for Social Security, or qualify a dependent for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).  

However, some ITIN holders are eligible for the Child Tax Credit (CTC) passed in March 2021. The CTC may be worth up to $3,600 for a child under six years old and $3,000 for a child six to 17. The ITIN can also be useful in opening interest-bearing bank accounts, securing a driver’s license, and proving residency through filed tax returns. 

Applying for an ITIN

The IRS provides a form known as a W-7 for applying for an ITIN. Along with submitting the form, which can be done by mail or private delivery service, the applicant must submit a tax return and documentation verifying identity and “foreign status.” The IRS lists 13 documents that can be used for this purpose. Even if you are an undocumented alien, you can apply for an ITIN by following these steps.  

The ITIN, when issued, contains an identification number resembling the Social Security sequence: XXX-XX-XXXX, but all ITINs begin with the number 9. An ITIN holder who does not file a tax return for three consecutive years will have their number invalidated, and they will have to reapply.   

Speak with an Experienced Immigration Attorney

One potential benefit of applying for an ITIN and paying federal taxes is that once you qualify for a Social Security account, your work history may eventually be applied to your qualifications and future benefits. Another, of course, is to prevent the possibility of being hit with a past-due tax notice by the IRS if your wages or income has been reported.  

If you need to obtain an ITIN in or around Miami, Florida, contact me at the Gurian Group, P.A., today for legal assistance. I will help you assemble the documentation, fill out the form and apply for your ITIN. Reach out immediately with your immigration questions and concerns.