File A Tax Return Without A Social Security Number (ITIN)

Why Should I File a Tax Return?

  • You might get a refund
  • For some immigration applications, you must show that you filed tax returns
  • It helps prove good moral character and continuous presence in the U.S.
  • If you owe taxes, it is against the law to not file a tax return
  • An ITIN will help establish a wage record if you later obtain legal status and become eligible for Social Security.
  • The IRS will accept a tax return when it shows an ITIN and the W-2 shows an invalid Social Security Number.
  • What is an ITIN?

  • An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) lets you file an income tax return if you do not have a valid Social Security Number.
  • The ITIN is a 9 digit number that you can request and receive from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
  • The ITIN is not the same as a Social Security number and cannot be used for anything other than tax purposes.
  • Who Can Qualify for an ITIN?

  • Do not ask for an ITIN if you are a citizen, permanent resident, or authorized to work in the United States.
  • You must show foreign status.
  • You must be able to show proof of identity.
  • What if I Lose my Eviction Case?

  • You can use the ITIN to file an income tax return.
  • You may be able to use the ITIN to claim your spouse on the tax return.
  • You may be able to use the ITIN to claim dependent
    exemptions on the tax return.
  • You may be able to use the ITIN to claim the Child Tax Credit.
  • If you have been working and using an incorrect Social Security Number, you can apply for an ITIN and have the wages and tax information from the incorrect number applied to the ITIN. You can do this by calling the IRS when you receive your new, valid ITIN.
  • How do I Apply for an ITIN?
    You can apply for an ITIN by filling out Form W-7, showing documents that prove foreign status and identity, and filing the Form W-7 at the same time that you file your tax return.

    To prove Foreign Status you can use a:

  • Passport, birth certificate, foreign government driver’s license or official document issued by a foreign government.
  • To prove Identity you can use a picture ID issued by a government agency.
  • An original passport can be used to provide identity and foreign status.
  • The documents to prove identity and foreign status must be current, be the originals, certified copies, or copies signed by a U.S. notary.

    The Form W-7 is available in Spanish.

    You must fill out the Form W-7 completely and the name listed on the W-7 form must match the name on your documents that prove foreign status and identity.

    In the box marked “status” you should put “Resident Alien” if you have a green card or if you have lived in the U.S. for 184 or more days in the present year. You should put “Nonresident Alien” if you do not have a green card or have not been living in the U.S. for 184 days during the past year.

    More Information on How to File
    You can fill out a form W-7 for a dependent age 13 or younger. You can sign their form if you are a parent or a court-appointed guardian..

    You can file the W-7 form with your tax return at a local IRS office. For a list of your local offices go to or call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040.

    How Long Do I Have to Wait to Get My ITIN and How Much Does it Cost?
    It takes 4-6 weeks to receive your ITIN. If you do not receive it within this time, then contact the IRS at 1-800-829-1040.

    The ITIN is free! If a tax preparer assists you in filling out the form, they may charge a fee. You can seek assistance with the form from your local IRS office for no cost.

    LEP Services:

      South Carolina Legal Services makes every effort to accommodate the Limited English Proficient community in South Carolina. We provide telephonic interpretation, document translation, and in-person interpretation for meetings with clients and applicants upon their request. We also provide services to the deaf or hard of hearing community and to the blind.
    Other Legal Representation

    • Consumer & Bankruptcy
    • Education
    • Employment
    • Family
    • Federal Income Tax
    • Housing
    • Migrant Farm Workers
    • Probate
    • Public Benefits

    Additional information may be found at:
    South Carolina’s guide to free legal resources

    This brochure was prepared by South Carolina Legal Services and is provided as a public service.
    Copyright retained by South Carolina Legal Services
    Printed April 2010


    South Carolina Legal Services is a statewide law firm that provides civil legal services to protect the rights and represent the interests of low-income South Carolinians.


    All low-income South Carolinians will have full and fair access to justice.

    Contact Us

    Apply Online

    Download PDF