Tax Identification Numbers

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Subject: Tax Identification Numbers

A Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) is an identification number used by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the administration of tax laws. It is issued either by the Social Security Administration (SSA) or by the IRS. A Social Security number (SSN) is issued by the SSA whereas all other TINs are issued by the IRS.

Taxpayer Identification Numbers


  • Social Security Number “SSN”
  • Employer Identification Number “EIN”
  • Individual Taxpayer Identification Number “ITIN”
  • Taxpayer Identification Number for Pending U.S. Adoptions “ATIN”
  • Preparer Taxpayer Identification Number “PTIN”

Note: The temporary IRS Numbers previously assigned are no longer valid.

Do I Need One?

A TIN must be furnished on returns, statements, and other tax related documents. For example a number must be furnished:


  • When filing your tax returns – A change in IRC section 6109 regulations in 1996 mandates the use of a TIN on tax returns.
  • When claiming treaty benefits – There was a change in the IRC section 1441 regulations in 2001 which mandates the use of a TIN in order to claim tax treaty benefits. A TIN must be on a withholding certificate if the beneficial owner is claiming any of the following:
    • Tax treaty benefits (other than for income from marketable securities)
    • Exemption for effectively connected income
    • Exemption for certain annuities


When Claiming Exemptions for Dependent or Spouse:

You generally must list on your individual income tax return the social security number (SSN) of any person for whom you claim an exemption. If your dependent or spouse does not have and is not eligible to get an SSN, you must list the ITIN instead of an SSN. You do not need an SSN or ITIN for a child who was born and died in the same tax year. Instead of an SSN or ITIN, attach a copy of the child’s birth certificate and write Died on the appropriate exemption line of your tax return.

How Do I Get A TIN?

SSN: You will need to complete Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card (PDF). You also must submit evidence of your identity, age, and U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status. For more information please see the Social Security web site. Form SS-5 is also available by calling 1-800-772-1213 or visiting your local Social Security office. These services are free.


EIN: An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is also known as a federal tax identification number, and is used to identify a business entity. Use Form SS-4 (Fill-in PDF) to apply for an EIN either by mail or by telephone. You can get an EIN within minutes by calling the Tele-TIN phone number for your state, or you can send the completed Form SS-4 to your local IRS service center to get your EIN by mail. You need a completed Form SS-4 to apply for an EIN by either method. For a list of Tele-Tin phone numbers, refer to Where to Apply For An EIN. For assistance completing Form SS-4, see How to Complete Form SS-4, fillable application for EIN and Publication 1635, Understanding Your EIN.


ITIN: An ITIN, or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, is a tax processing number only available for certain nonresident and resident aliens, their spouses, and dependents who cannot get a Social Security Number (SSN). It is a 9-digit number, beginning with the number “9″, formatted like an SSN (NNN-NN-NNNN).


The IRS will implement these changes related to the ITIN’s effective December 17, 2003:


  • All new ITIN applicants will have to show a federal tax purpose for seeking the ITIN. For those seeking an ITIN to meet their income tax filing obligations, this will require attaching a federal tax return to the Form W-7 when they are ready to file their tax return with the IRS.
  • ITIN applications without proof of need for tax administration purposes will be rejected.
  • The IRS will reduce to 13 from 40 the number of documents it will accept as proof of identity to obtain an ITIN. The 13 acceptable documents are listed in the new Form W-7 instructions.
  • The IRS also will change the appearance of the ITIN from a card to an authorization letter to avoid any possible similarities with a Social Security Number card.


Form W-7, IRS Application for Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, is used to apply for an ITIN. NOTE: You cannot claim the earned income credit using an ITIN.

Chuck Heyde is a Certified Acceptance Agent and thusly can assist you directly in obtaining your Individual Tax Payer Identification Number (ITIN).



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