Guide for Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) Holders
Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) holders are eligible for the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC), a refundable tax credit that puts money back in the pockets of low-income Californians. If you qualify for the CalEITC and you have children under 6, you might also qualify for the Young Child Tax Credit.
To unlock your California tax credits, you must file your state taxes.
What is an ITIN?
An Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) is a tax processing number available to individuals who are required to have a U.S. taxpayer identification number but who do not have, and are not eligible to obtain, a Social Security number (SSN). ITINs are issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The IRS issues ITINs regardless of immigration status because both resident and nonresident aliens may have a U.S. filing or reporting requirement.
ITINs allow individuals ineligible for a Social Security Number to:
- Report earnings to the IRS for tax purposes
- Open bank accounts with certain banks
- Conduct business in the U.S.
- Claim eligible tax credits
An ITIN does not:
- Authorize work in the U.S.
- Provide eligibility for Social Security benefits
- Qualify a dependent for Earned Income Tax Credit Purposes
Who qualifies for an ITIN?
If the following apply to you, then you must apply for an ITIN.
- You do not have a Social Security Number (SSN) and are not eligible to obtain one, and
- You are required to file a federal tax identification number or file a federal tax return, and
- You are in one of the following categories:
- Nonresident alien who is required to file a U.S. tax return
- U.S. resident alien who is (based on days present in the United States) filing a U.S. tax return
- Dependent or spouse of a U.S. citizen/resident alien
- Dependent or spouse of a nonresident alien visa holder
- Nonresident immigrant claiming a tax treaty benefit
- Nonresident immigrant student, professor or researcher filing a U.S. tax return or claiming an exception
What tax credits are ITIN holders eligible for?
In California, ITIN holders are eligible for both the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) and the Young Child Tax Credit (YCTC). Eligible tax filers can receive up to $3,417 from the CalEITC depending on their income and family size, and up to $1,083 from the YCTC if they are eligible for the CalEITC and have at least one child 5 years old or younger.
Parents who are ITIN holders can also claim the federal Child Tax Credit (CTC) until 2025, if they have a qualifying child with a valid SSN. For the 2022 tax year, tax filers with a qualifying child, can receive up to $2,000 per qualifying child from the Child Tax Credit (CTC). In regard to the federal EITC, it is only available for those filing with a Social Security Number (SSN). However, now singles and couples who have Social Security numbers can claim the credit, even if their children don’t have SSNs. In this instance, they would get the smaller credit available to childless workers. In the past, these filers didn’t qualify for the credit.
Read our Understanding Tax Credits Guide for more information.
Please note that under current law, receiving the Child Tax Credit or other Federal tax credits that you are eligible for will NOT affect your immigration status, your ability to get a green card, or your future eligibility for immigration benefits. Use of Federal tax credits is not considered for purposes of a “public charge” determination by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Do ITINs expire?
Yes. If your ITIN wasn’t included on a U.S. federal tax return at least once for three consecutive tax years, it will expire on December 31 of the third consecutive tax year of non-use. For tax years 2019, 2020, and 2021, your ITIN expired on December 31, 2022, if you did not use your ITIN on a U.S. tax return at least once during these years.
ITINs with middle digits (the fourth and fifth positions) “70,” “71,” “72,” “73,” “74,” “75,” “76,” “77,” “78,” “79,” “80,” “81,” “82,” “83,” “84,” “85,” “86,” “87,” or “88” have expired. In addition, ITINs with middle digits “90,” “91,” “92,” “94,” “95,” “96,” “97,” “98,” or “99,” IF assigned before 2013, have expired.
If your ITIN is only being used on information returns for reporting purposes, you don’t need to renew your ITIN, but if you need to use the ITIN to file a U.S. federal tax return, and it is expired, you will need to renew your ITIN at that time. If your ITIN expired, do not submit an application for a new ITIN number, just renew the ITIN that expired.
How do I apply for or renew an ITIN?
All ITIN applications (Form W-7), including renewals, must be submitted with a completed U.S. federal tax return unless you meet an exception to the filing requirement. There is no option to apply for an ITIN as a stand-alone document without a tax return.
The ITIN application process does not qualify for electronic filing and has to be mailed or submitted it in person at a designated IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center that conducts document reviews. To renew or apply for an ITIN, you will need to download and complete a W-7 Application for IRS ITIN Form. Download or view our Checklist for ITIN Application or Renewal to know what other forms and documents you have to prepare.
There are multiple free options if you need help applying or renewing an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN):
- Make an appointment at a local Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site
Apply for an ITIN in-person at a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site. At select VITA sites, there are Certified Acceptance Agents (CAAs) onsite that can verify your personal identifying documents and save you the hassle of mailing these documents in. They can prepare your tax return and ITIN application. To find a VITA site near you, select our File with in-person help option at MyFreeTaxes.org.
- Drop-off at a select IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers
Schedule an appointment at a select IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC) where in-person document review is provided. The IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center will review your personal identifying documents and return them to you immediately—it is not required to mail these personal documents with your tax return. IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers operate by appointment. You can schedule an appointment by calling (844) 545-5640. Click here to view a list of TACs that provide in-person document review.
- Mail on your own
Original documents you submit will be returned to you at the mailing address shown on your Form W-7. You don’t need to provide a return envelope. If you anticipate needing your original documents for any purpose within 14 weeks of submitting your ITIN application by mail, we recommend applying in person at an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center or CAA.Mail your completed tax return, W-7 ITIN application, proof of identity, and foreign status documents to:
Internal Revenue Service
Austin Service Center
P.O. Box 149342
Austin, TX 78714-9342
How long does it take for an ITIN to be processed?
Once your complete application (including authentication of identifying documents) is received, you will receive a letter from the IRS usually within seven to eleven weeks. If you do not receive a response within this timeframe, call 1-800-829-1040 (toll-free within the United States) to request the status of your application. Taxpayers overseas can call 1-267-941-1000 (not a toll-free number).
What can I do if my ITIN application gets rejected?
If you sent an application to renew your ITIN, the IRS may send you a letter asking you to fix an error, or they may reject your application.
If you need to add something else for you or your dependent (proof of living in the U.S., day of entry to the U.S., or your passport is expired or will be expiring soon) and you sent all documents required before receiving a rejection letter, there could be a possibility that the IRS is behind in opening mail and these letters are getting sent out automatically. In this case, you should call the IRS directly to check the status of your application.
If the IRS received your documents and your application is still rejected, you may need to apply again and fix whatever errors have been stated in the letter from the IRS. There are a lot of different scenarios that can lead to errors when applying for an ITIN. If you would like to contact the IRS about your rejected application, call the toll-free telephone number on the notice or call 267-941-1000 (not a toll-free number) if you’re outside the U.S. You can also visit a Taxpayer Assistance Center near you.
What if my address changes?
It’s important that the IRS is aware of your current mailing address. This address is used to mail notices about your Form W-7, including notification of your assigned ITIN, and return your original supporting documentation. If you move before you receive your ITIN, notify the IRS of your current mailing address immediately, so they may update their records.
How do I avoid scams?
Ideally, whenever possible, we recommend filing with a free tax preparer at a Certified Acceptance Agent (CAA) Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site. These volunteers have strict requirements and have to annually train and pass certification tests with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Some IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers are also able to provide in-person document review if you cannot find a CAA. Click here to view a list of TACs that provide in-person document review.
Ready to file your taxes using your ITIN?
Click here to view a checklist of everything you’ll need to file your 2022 taxes.