Question: What is IRS Form W-7 and when is it needed?
Answer: Use Form W-7 to apply for an IRS individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN). An ITIN is a nine-digit number issued by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to individuals who are required for U.S. tax purposes to have a U.S. taxpayer identification number but who do not have and are not eligible to get a social security number (SSN). The ITIN is for federal tax purposes only.
Social Security Number. Do not complete Form W-7 if you have an SSN or you are eligible to get an SSN. You are eligible for an SSN if you are a U.S. citizen or if you have been admitted by the United States for permanent residence or U.S. employment.
Who Must Apply for an ITIN
Any individual who is not eligible to get an SSN but who must furnish a taxpayer identification number must apply for an ITIN on Form W-7. Examples include the following.
- A nonresident alien individual eligible to get the benefit of reduced withholding under an income tax treaty. See Pub. 515, Withholding of Tax on Nonresident Aliens and Foreign Entities.
- 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. For information about the substantial presence test, see Pub. 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens.
- An alien spouse claimed as an exemption on a U.S. tax return who is not eligible to get an SSN.
- An alien individual eligible to be claimed as a dependent on a U.S. tax return but who is not eligible to get an SSN. To determine if an alien individual is eligible to be claimed as a dependent on a U.S. tax return, see Pub. 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information, and Pub. 519.
- 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 holding a U.S. visa who is not eligible for an SSN.