It sometimes happens that undocumented immigrants want to file U.S. income taxes, but without a Social Security Number (SSN), they don’t know how to do so. Filing income taxes as an undocumented worker IS possible and it might be in your best interests to do so, but first you’ll need to obtain an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN).
An ITIN is a tax processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to people who do not have U.S. Social Security Numbers, including undocumented immigrants. An ITIN allows the holder to pay U.S. income taxes regardless of their immigration status.
-An ITIN is not a SSN, but it may be linked to a SSN, if the holder obtains an SSN in the future.
-ITINs do not affect immigration status or provide work authorization.
-ITINs can be used to:
-Open an interest-bearing bank account.
-Obtain a driver’s license.
-Provide proof of residency.
-ITINs need to be re-validated every 5 years and will expire after 3 years of non-use.
-ITIN holders are not eligible for all of the tax benefits that U.S. citizens receive such as Social Security benefits or the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
How To Obtain An ITIN
To obtain an ITIN you’ll need to file the appropriate paperwork.
- Complete a W-7 application.
- Submit it to the IRS along with a completed tax return.
- Once the application has been approved, you’ll be mailed an ITIN.
Please note, you must include original documents that verify your identity and foreign status, such as your passport or visa. The IRS has a list of 13 acceptable documents, which can be found here.
You will get your original documents back within 60 days of processing the W-7 form.
Reasons To File Income Taxes Even If You Are Undocumented
Many undocumented workers want to do the right thing and adhere to all U.S. laws. This includes paying income taxes, but there are other benefits to filing tax returns, even if you are not a U.S. citizen:
-ITINs can be used to prove how long you have been in the U.S. if the question ever comes up.
-ITINs can be merged with SSNs if you obtain an SSN in the future. This can help you receive your full amount of SSN benefits in the future.
-Some tax benefits apply to ITIN holders. Some ITIN holders are eligible for the Child Tax Credit (CTC) of as much as $2,000 per U.S. citizen child.
-Proving adherence to U.S. tax law may help your case if you ever apply for citizenship or other U.S. immigration protections.
Can An Application For ITIN Lead To Deportation?
Understandably, many undocumented workers are worried that by obtaining an ITIN they will draw attention to their undocumented status, which may increase their risk of deportation. That should not happen, but honestly, there is always the risk, especially given this administration’s hardline stance against immigrants and disregard for legal precedent.
What we do know about ITIN and U.S. tax laws should ease your concerns:
-ITIN is handled by the IRS not ICE. It is not an immigration-enforcement tool.
-The U.S. has strict taxpayer privacy laws, which help protect all taxpayers, including undocumented immigrants.
-The IRS does not routinely share taxpayers’ private information with other government agencies. There may be an exception if information is requested in connection with a criminal investigation.
Contact The Law Offices Of Gail Seeram For ITIN Help
Our Orlando immigration attorney, Gail Seeram, can help you apply for an ITIN, advise you whether or not you should obtain an ITIN, and answer any of your other immigration-related questions and concerns.
We offer free in-office consultations as well as free phone consultations. Text or call 407-292-7730 to speak with an immigration attorney today.