Civic Resources

Need Help Filing Taxes Without A Social Security Number? An ITIN Can Help

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

In 2014 alone, immigrants (both documented and undocumented) paid $328 billion in state, federal and local taxes. That’s more than Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos combined. The Internal Revenue Service requires all individuals to pay taxes, regardless of immigration status. ITINs could also help you prove how long you’ve lived in the U.S., if later you need to prove your residency.

Here’s more information on Individual Tax Identification Numbers (ITINs) and how to apply for one:

  1. What is an ITIN?

Individual Tax Identification Numbers, or ITINs, are only available for non-US citizens to help with tax filing. It’s used by the IRS as an identification tool instead of a Social Security Number (SSN). 

  1. Is an ITIN the same as a SSN?

No. If you are not eligible to apply for a SSN, you should apply for an ITIN to use when filing your tax returns.

  1. Do I need an ITIN?

It’s likely that you do need an ITIN if you aren’t eligible to apply for a SSN. An ITIN is required for all returns, statements, and other tax related documents.

  1. Do I still have to pay taxes?

Yes, everyone must pay taxes even if you don’t hold permanent residency or citizenship status. Once you get the nine-digit number, you can use it to file your taxes. Important: You cannot claim the earned income tax credit (EITC) using an ITIN.

  1. Does an ITIN provide work status or authorization?

No. It cannot be used to prove work authorization on an I-9 form.

  1. Can immigration use ITINs to track me or my family?

No. The federal tax code prohibits the IRS from using or sharing any taxpayer information to other government agencies, including ICE and USCIS.

  1. How can I apply for an ITIN?

The IRS has a few different options:

Fill out a W-7 form through the IRS (Instrucciones para el Formulario W-7 aquí).

Mail your W-7, proof of identity and foreign status documents to:

Internal Revenue Service

Austin Service Center

ITIN Operation

P.O. Box 149342

Austin, TX 78714-9342


Use IRS Free File if your adjusted gross income is $72,000 or less

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs. Use VITA/TCE if you:

  • Make $57,000 or less
  • Have a disability
  • Have limited English speaking ability

Tax season is January to April. To find a VITA/TCE provider in your area during this time period, search with your zip code here (ingles) or call 888-227-7669.

You can also file an application through an acceptance agent. These are certified institutions like colleges and accounting firms that will help you file and send it to the IRS to be processed.
* Financial advising can be expensive, and you will likely have to pay a fee for these services. You can find an IRS-approved acceptance agent here.

8. What else can I use an ITIN for?

  • To open a bank account
  • As documentation of tax payment and residency to obtain immigration status
  • To obtain a driver’s license (depending on your state)
  1. Do I need to renew an ITIN?

Yes. Your ITIN will have to be renewed every five years. To renew an expired ITIN, you must submit a completed W-7 form (see question #8).  You only need to renew an expiring ITIN if it will be included on a US tax return or claim for refund that you plan to file in 2021. More information on ITIN expiration here (ingles).

  • All ITINs issued before 2013 with middle digits 88 (EX: 9XX-88-XXXX) OR 90, 91, 92, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98 or 99 will expire at the end of 2021
  • All ITINs that have not been used on a tax return filing in the past three years expired on December 31, 2020
  • Make an appointment. You can find a Tax Assistance Center in your area here.
  1. Questions?

You can find more information and answers to common tax questions here.

Kaley LaQuea is an award–winning print and digital journalist who’s been creating content since 2008. She’s passionate about economic, environmental and social justice. She has an unhealthy relationship with caffeine and two cats: Totoro and Mononoke.