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The Guide to Renewing Your ITIN in 2017

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Person learning if he should start renewing his ITIN before filing his tax return.

From social security and drivers license numbers to employee identification and passport numbers, a variety of digits and letters identify people who live in the U.S. And when it comes to abiding by the U.S. federal tax laws, some individuals also need to pay attention to a number called the ITIN.

Use this guide to learn more about the ITIN and how to renew yours when it expires.

What is an ITIN?

ITIN is the acronym for Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, and it’s a nine-digit number issued by the IRS to taxpayers who don’t qualify for a Social Security Number (SSN) but still need to file a tax return. As an alternative form of identification, ITINs not only allow that group of individuals to comply with U.S. federal tax laws, but they also help the IRS efficiently process returns and payments not tied to an SSN.

Any resident or nonresident alien that needs to file a U.S. tax return or fulfill an IRS reporting requirement gets an ITIN. If you meet the following criteria, you must apply for an ITIN:

  1. Not eligible to get an SSN, and
  2. Required to file a federal tax return or provide a federal tax identification number for a particular reason, and
  3. Fall into one of these categories:
    1. Nonresident alien
    2. S. resident alien
    3. Dependent or spouse of U.S. citizen or resident alien
    4. Dependent or spouse of a nonresident alien visa holder
    5. Nonresident alien claiming a tax treaty benefit
    6. Nonresident alien student, professor or researcher filing a tax return or claiming an exemption

Do ITINs expire?

In 2015, the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act began enforcing the expiration of unused ITINS.  If you have not used your ITIN at least once to file your tax return in the last three years (2014, 2015, or 2016), it expires on Dec. 31, 2017.

Also, all ITINs issued before 2013 with the middle digits 70, 71, 72 or 80 expire at that same time.

If you plan to file a 2017 tax return and your ITIN is set to expire, you need to renew it before submitting your return. Keep in mind, if you now have an SSN, you no longer need an ITIN.

The IRS should send you a notice indicating your ITIN is up for renewal. However, you do not have to wait to receive that notification before renewing if you know your ITIN expires at the end of the year.

To minimize confusion, the IRS implemented a rolling renewal schedule for the expiration dates of ITINS. That means the agency will announce each year which ITINs expire at the end of the year.

How do I renew my ITIN?

Complete Form W-7, Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number to renew your ITIN and submit it to the IRS. Pay close attention to what the form asks because you must attach additional information.  You must attach additional information to the application. That includes the original identification documents or certified copies by the agency that issued them. You can easily access, complete and print the form using TaxAct’s software.

After finalizing the application, there are several different ways to get it to the IRS. The first option is to mail Form W-7 and the supporting documents to the IRS address listed on the form. You can also use an IRS authorized Certified Acceptance Agent or make an appointment at an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center. E-filing the form is not an option.

It can take the IRS up to seven weeks from the date you submitted the forms to send an update on the status of your application. Once your ITIN renews, you should receive a confirmation document called CP565, Confirmation of Your Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. Your ITIN should also remain the same. Any number previously revoked will change.

If your ITIN does not expire this year, wait to renew it. The IRS advises all taxpayers not to apply for renewal until it is scheduled to expire. Expiring ITINS are announced each year.

What if I don’t renew it?

The IRS processes all tax returns filed with an expired ITIN. However, any exemptions and credits claimed on the return are not allowed. If you submit a return without renewing your ITIN, the IRS will send a notice listing the disallowed claims. You are also subject to interest and penalties for any taxes owed as a result of removing those exemptions and credits.

Once your ITIN renews, the IRS reevaluates the original exemptions and credits claimed.