The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued a reminder to taxpayers with an expiring Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to submit their renewal applications. Failing to renew an ITIN by the end of the year will cause refund and processing delays in 2019.
An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is assigned to a taxpayer who is not eligible to obtain a Social Security Number (SSN). SSNs are generally assigned to United States citizens and those noncitizens who are authorized to work in the U.S. by the Department of Homeland Security. SSNs and ITINs are intended to be used only for tax and benefits purposes, but since banks, schools and insurance companies use them as identification numbers, more folks want them for nontax purposes: Only a quarter of ITINs assigned since the program began in 1996 have been used to file tax returns.
Concerns about misuse spurned changes, including a law that now allows ITINs to expire. ITINs that have not been used on a federal tax return at least once in the last three years are not valid for use on a tax return unless renewed by the taxpayer. Expirations occur on a rotating cycle. That’s why the IRS mailed more than 1.3 million letters to taxpayers who have ITINs with middle digits 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 81 or 82 this year. Those folks may need to renew.
If you are a taxpayer with an ITIN with middle digits 71, 72, 78, 79 and 80 that has already expired, you will also need to renew your ITIN if you will have a filing requirement in 2019. When you renew your ITIN, you can choose to renew your family members’ ITINs at the same time, even if those ITINs are not yet set to expire. For this purpose, family members include your spouse and any dependents residing in the United States that you will claim on your tax return.
(Remember that there is no personal exemption amount for tax years 2018 through 2025. That means that spouses or dependents outside the United States who would have been claimed for this benefit—and no other benefit—do not need to renew their ITINs this year.)
If your ITIN is not set to expire, or if it has already expired and you do not have a filing requirement, you do not need to take any action.
Similarly, if your status has changed and you are eligible for an SSN, you should not apply for or renew an ITIN.
If you have an expired ITIN, your federal income tax return will be processed, but exemptions and certain tax credits will be disallowed.
You renew your ITIN by completing a federal form W-7 together with the required documentation. You can mail the form to the address on the instructions, work with Certifying Acceptance Agents (CAAs) authorized by the IRS, or call and make an appointment at a designated IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center.
If you need more information, the IRS has several fact sheets available to help, including Pub 5259.
You can find other ITIN-related IRS publications here