Taxpayer asks:

I have a child that moved in with me from Canada in July and I do not have a social security number for him how do I go about claiming him on my taxes?

Taxgirl says:

You generally need a Social Security Number (SSN) to claim a dependent on your federal income tax return.

If you do not have a Social Security Number for your dependent, and your dependent qualifies for a Social Security Number, you need to file a form SS5, Application for a Social Security Card (downloads as a pdf), with the Social Security Administration (SSA). According to the IRS, it usually takes about two weeks to get the SSN once you’ve submitted all of the information. Since it’s so early in the tax season, you ought to be able to get the SSN in time to file your tax return timely. If you don’t have the SSN by April 15, you can always request an extension of time to file your return.

If your dependent does not qualify for an SSN, you may be able to apply for an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) for your dependent. To do this, use federal form W­7, Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (downloads as pdf). You’ll file the form W7 with the Internal Revenue Service; note this is different from the SS5 which is filed with the Social Security Administration.

If you cannot get an SSN or an ITIN, and the child is in your home as part of a legal adoption, you must get an adoption tax­payer identification number (ATIN). You’ll use a federal form W7A, Application for Taxpayer Identification Number for Pending U.S. Adoptions. Like the federal form W7, you request this number directly from the IRS.

Hopefully, one of those options will work for you.

Be sure to read my disclaimer… Remember, I’m a lawyer and we love disclaimers. But you know who loves them more? My malpractice carrier. Consider yourself warned.

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Kelly Erb is a tax attorney, tax writer and podcaster.

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