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Filing Basics

Taxpayer ID Numbers

Each taxpayer who files a tax return must have an identifying number. In addition, each dependent claimed on a tax return must have an identifying number. The identifying number can be a Social Security Number, Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.

Social Security Number

A Social Security Number is an identifying number issued by the Social Security Administration. The only Social Security Numbers valid for tax filing are ones issued to U.S. citizens, noncitizens lawfully admitted for permanent residence, or noncitizens permitted to work permanently in the United States.

To apply for a Social Security Number, file Form SS-5.

Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number

The IRS issues an Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number (ATIN) as a temporary identification number for the child of a domestic adoption. This number is assigned when the adopting taxpayers are unable to obtain a Social Security Number (SSN) for the child. Refer to Adoption ID Number for more information.

Individual Taxpayer Identification Number

An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is an identifying number issued by the IRS. The number is only valid for filing your tax return. The IRS issues ITINs to filers or dependents who do not have a Social Security Number and are not eligible to receive one. ITINs are issued regardless of immigration status.

An ITIN is only used for tax reporting. An ITIN does not:

  • Authorize a person to work in the United States
  • Provide eligibility for Social Security benefits
  • Provide eligibility for the Earned Income Credit

When applying for an ITIN you will need to provide proof of identity. The documents will need to prove your identity and foreign status. If you have an unexpired passport you will not need any other form of identity. If you do not have a valid passport you will need to provide a notarized or certified copy of at least two of the following:

  • National identification card
  • U.S. or foreign driver's license
  • Civil birth certificate
  • U.S. state identification card
  • Foreign voter's registration card
  • U.S. or foreign military identification card
  • Visa
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services photo identification
  • Medical records (dependents under 14 years old only)
  • School records (dependents or students under 25 years old only)

To apply for an ITIN, use one of these options: