How to apply for or complete an ITIN renewal in 2017
Taxpayers who need to file a U.S. tax return, pay U.S. taxes or open a bank account, among other things, but don’t qualify for a Social Security number (SSN), must get an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN). Unlike an SSN, an ITIN may expire on a staggered basis or if it isn’t used on a tax return for three consecutive years.
Whether applying for an ITIN for the first time or renewing an expiring ITIN, the ITIN renewal process involves multiple forms of identification, a paper application and up to 14 weeks for processing. One thing can ease the ITIN renewal process: the help of a certified acceptance agent (CAA). A CAA can expedite the process and allow the applicant to keep important documents instead of mailing them to the IRS.
Who should get an ITIN
Any worker who earned money in the United States, doesn’t qualify for an SSN and files a U.S. tax return, should apply for an ITIN. An ITIN is also needed for the family members of these workers so they don’t pay more taxes than they owe. For instance, an ITIN is needed to claim the dependent exemption for a qualifying child.
With an ITIN, individuals can:
- File their taxes;
- Get a tax refund, if they qualify;
- Open a bank account or apply for a bank loan;
- Build a history of tax compliance;
- Demonstrate eligibility for financial aid for their child’s education; and
- Claim their spouse and qualifying relatives (in certain cases, these requirements may be met even if they live in Mexico or Canada).
Additionally, taxpayers who haven’t used their ITIN on a tax return for the last three years (2014, 2015, and 2016) and taxpayers with middle digits 70, 71, 72 and 80 will see their ITIN expire by the end of 2017. They should renew their ITINs if they expect to file a tax return during the 2018 filing season.
Step one: Organize documents
ITIN applicants will need current documents showing proof of identity and foreign status. The IRS accepts original and unexpired passports as stand-alone proof of identity and foreign status for primary taxpayers and spouses and for dependents in some cases. Other documents that prove either identity or foreign status include:
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) photo identification,
- visa issued by the U.S. Department of State,
- U.S. driver’s license,
- U.S. military identification card,
- foreign driver’s license,
- foreign military identification card,
- national identification card,
- U.S. state identification card,
- foreign voter’s registration card,
- civil birth certificate,
- medical records (valid only for dependents under age 6) and
- school records (valid only for dependents under age 18 if a student).
Step two: Submit the application by mail
The applicant should mail their supporting documentation, the completed W-7 application and their tax return to the IRS at:
Internal Revenue Service
P.O. Box 149342
Austin, TX 78714-9342
The IRS may take as many as 14 weeks to process the application and return the documentation.
Seek out a CAA to expedite the ITIN renewal process
A CAA undergoes specialized training and is approved by the IRS to assist with the ITIN process by preparing the ITIN application, verifying supporting documents and then handling the paper submission of the ITIN application to the IRS.
Because a CAA can verify the supporting documents, the applicant does not need to send their original identification documents to the IRS. CAAs can assist with ITIN applications for dependents, as well as verify dependents’ passports and birth certificates.
CAAs also have their own hotline to the IRS to follow up on ITIN applications and provide additional updates on the status of an application or renewal.
When to get an ITIN
Because it can take up to 14 weeks to receive an ITIN and because an ITIN is needed to file a tax return and be eligible for certain tax breaks, it is best to renew an ITIN before tax season begins in January. The IRS opened the ITIN renewal process in June.
Taxpayers who need to apply for an ITIN for the first time must usually include their tax return. Although it is too early to file a 2017 tax return which is due in April 2018, they can submit their ITIN application along with a 2016 or earlier tax return now. A CAA can help them understand their options so they can make the best choice for their situation.
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Keep in mind that an extension to file is not an extension to pay. Don't forget to pay your tax bills before the deadline to avoid delayed tax return penalties.