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Frequently Ask Questions

Application for IRS Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) – Form W-7

I sent in an ITIN application with a Form W-7 and a notarized copy of my foreign passport. However, my application was not accepted due to the notarized copy. Why was the notarized copy not accepted?

Effective January 1, 2013, the IRS implemented new procedures for issuing new ITINs. Specifically, the new procedures apply to most applicants submitting Forms W-7 after June 21, 2012.

Under these new procedures, Forms W-7 must include original documentation such as passports and birth certificates, or copies of these documents certified by the issuing agency.


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I am a nonresident alien in a foreign country. I was notified that I inherited some money in the United States. The executor requests that I provide a tax identification number. Is it sufficient to provide them with a foreign tax identification number?

No.  The executor is required to include a Schedule K-1 (Form 1041) for each beneficiary when filing Form 1041, U.S. Income Tax Return for Estates and Trusts, for a decedent’s estate.  The Schedule K-1 must provide the beneficiary’s tax identification number.

Additionally, a nonresident alien heir or beneficiary who wishes to claim applicable reduced rates of U.S. federal income tax on distributions from the estate under a tax treaty should file with the executor of the estate a Form W-8BEN, Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding (PDF), which must provide the individual’s tax identification number.  Please refer to Income Tax Return of an Estate—Form 1041 in Publication 559, Survivors, Executors, and Administrators. The Form W-8BEN is not filed with the IRS.

If the heir or beneficiary does not have a social security number, he/she must apply for an ITIN from the IRS.


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I am a nonresident alien living in a foreign country and I will receive U.S. source royalty income. Do I need to obtain an ITIN?

U.S. source royalty income paid to a nonresident alien generally is subject to a 30% U.S. federal income tax.  If you are claiming a reduced rate of U.S. federal income tax on U.S. source royalty income under a tax treaty, you should obtain an ITIN and provide it to the withholding agent on a Form W-8BEN, Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding (PDF). The Form W-8BEN is not filed with the IRS.


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When and how do I apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)?

You need an ITIN as soon as you are ready to file your federal income tax return, since you need to attach the return to your application.  To apply for an ITIN, complete Form W-7, Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.

There are exceptions to the requirement to include a U.S. tax return with the Form W-7. For example, if you are a nonresident alien individual eligible to get the benefit of reduced withholding under an income tax treaty, you can apply for an ITIN without having to attach a federal income tax return


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Who needs to apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)?

You need an ITIN if you are not eligible to get a social security number but must provide a taxpayer identification number on a U.S. tax return or information return.  Examples include the following:

  • A nonresident alien individual eligible to get the benefit of reduced withholding under an income tax treaty.
  • A nonresident alien individual not eligible for an SSN who is required to file a U.S. tax return or who is filing a U.S. tax return only to claim a refund.
  • A nonresident alien individual not eligible for an SSN who elects to file a joint U.S. tax return with a spouse who is a U.S. citizen or resident alien.
  • A U.S. resident alien (based on the substantial presence test) who files a U.S. tax return but who is not eligible for an SSN.
  • An alien spouse who is claimed as an exemption on a U.S. tax return but who is not eligible to get an SSN.
  • An alien individual who is eligible to be claimed as a dependent on a U.S. tax return but who is not eligible to get an SSN.
  • A nonresident alien student, professor, or researcher who is required to file a U.S. tax return but who is not eligible for an SSN, or who is claiming an exception to the tax return filing requirement.
  • A dependent/spouse of a nonresident alien U.S. visa holder, who is not eligible for an SSN.

ITINs are for federal tax reporting only and are not intended to serve any other purpose. The IRS issues ITINs to help individuals comply with the U.S. tax laws and to provide a means to efficiently process and account for tax returns and payments for those not eligible for Social Security Numbers (SSNs).

An ITIN does not provide authorization to work in the United States or provide eligibility for Social Security benefits or the Earned Income Tax Credit.


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