WASHINGTON – Time is running out for many ITIN holders who need to file a federal income tax return in 2017 and want to avoid a long wait for a refund, according to the Internal Revenue Service.
An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is used by anyone who has tax-filing or payment obligations under U.S. law but is not eligible for a Social Security number. Under a recent law change by Congress, any ITIN not used on a tax return at least once in the past three years will expire on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017. In addition, any ITIN with middle digits of either 78 or 79 (9NN-78-NNNN or 9NN-79-NNNN) will also expire on that date.
This means that anyone with an expiring ITIN should act now to make sure they have a renewed ITIN in time to file a return during the upcoming tax season. Failure to do so will result in refund delays and possible loss of eligibility for some tax benefits until the ITIN is renewed.
The IRS said that an ITIN renewal application filed now will be processed before one submitted in January or February at the height of tax season. Currently, a complete and accurate renewal application can be processed in as little as seven weeks. But this timeframe is expected to lengthen to 11 weeks during tax season.
Several common errors are currently slowing down and holding up some ITIN renewal applications. The mistakes generally center on missing information, and/or insufficient supporting documentation. The IRS urges any applicant to check over their form carefully before sending it to the IRS.
To avoid processing delays, ITIN renewal applicants should be sure to use the latest version of Form W-7, revised September 2016. This version of the form, along with its instructions, is currently posted on IRS.gov.
To ensure prompt processing of the form, ITIN renewal applicants should also complete the following steps:
Unlike in the past, only a passport with a U.S. entry date is now acceptable as a stand-alone identification document for dependents. This means that dependent ITIN applicants who use a passport without a date of entry must provide additional documentation, along with the passport, to prove U.S. residency. Acceptable documents include:
Dependents from Canada, Mexico, or dependents of U.S. military personnel stationed overseas are exempt from these additional requirements.
ITIN renewal applicants can get help by visiting IRS.gov/ITIN, consulting a Certified Acceptance Agent or Acceptance Agent or making an appointment at an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC). Here are details on each of these options: