What is an ITIN?
An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number is issued to individuals who (1) are not eligible for a social security number and (2) are required to file a U.S. tax return. While you can use ITINs to open bank accounts, apply for loans, and do other transactions, the main purpose of an ITIN is to report income to the IRS and pay taxes.
Step 1: Prepare Your Tax Return
Except for nonresidents claiming a tax treaty benefit and certain nonresident students, professors, and researchers, everyone else who applies for an ITIN (including spouses and dependents) must submit a tax return with their application.
Step 2: Fill Out an Application
The application asks about your reason for applying for an ITIN, birth and citizenship information, entry into the US, and identification.
Step 3: Submit Original Documents
You'll need to either (1) mail your original identification documents to the IRS or (2) bring your original documents to a Certifying Acceptance Agent (CAA) for certification. If you choose the second option, the CAA will examine and return to you your documents within 24 hours. If you mail the documents, the IRS will return them in approximately 90 days.
Step 4: Wait
Expect to wait between 7-11 weeks for the IRS to process your application and issue you an ITIN. This may be longer given the current backlog at the IRS. Once an ITIN is issued, the IRS then transmits your return for processing. Don't be surprised if you do not receive your refund until the end of the year or the following year.