The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued a reminder to taxpayers with an expiring Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to submit renewal applications. Failing to renew an ITIN by the end of the year may cause refund and processing delays in 2020.

An ITIN is assigned to a taxpayer who is not eligible to obtain a Social Security Number (SSN). Typically, only United States citizens and those non-citizens who are authorized to work in the U.S. by the Department of Homeland Security receive SSNs.

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 ITIN misuse spurred changes, including a law that now allows ITINs to expire. Nearly 2 million ITINs are set to expire at the end of 2019. 

(In contrast, SSNs never expire, but the number of SSN cards that you can request is limited. For more, click here.)

As part of the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act, 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 also occur on a rotating cycle: ITINs with middle digits 83, 84, 85, 86 or 87 (like 9NN-83-NNNN) that have not already been renewed will also expire at the end of the year. ITINs with middle digits of 70 through 82 have already expired; if your ITIN has expired, you can still renew at any time.

Affected taxpayers who expect to file a tax return in 2020 should submit a renewal application as soon as possible. If you have an expired ITIN, your federal income tax return will be processed, but exemptions and certain tax credits will be disallowed. 

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 this year 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. However, if the spouse or dependent outside of the U.S. is filing a separate tax return, or qualifies for an allowable tax benefit, the federal tax return must include the taxpayer’s information and must be attached to the renewing Form W-7 application.

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.

You can renew your ITIN by completing a federal form W-7 (downloads as a PDF) together with the required documentation. You’ll need to indicate the reason for applying for the ITIN on the form. 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 (downloads as a PDF).

The IRS has also produced a video to help with the process:

Para ver un video en español sobre el programa Número de identificación de contribuyente individual (ITIN), haga clic aquí.

For more information, visit the ITIN information page on IRS.gov.

Last Updated on

Author

Kelly Erb is a tax attorney and tax writer.

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