What You Need to Know About ITINs as an Expat

As a U.S. expat with a life overseas, why do you need to worry about ITINs? If expats have foreign loved ones, they may need to know what ITINs are and how to get them.

ITINs are sort of like social security numbers (SSNs) for non-American citizens. They’re used for tax filing purposes by the IRS. While American expats likely have SSNs they can use for tax filing purposes, they may need to know about ITINs if they have foreign spouses or foreign dependents. Getting ITINs for your spouse or children can allow you to claim tax benefits of filing jointly and claiming dependents. Using IRS Form W-7, an experienced accountant can help you get ITINs for your family.

US Tax Help wants to make tax filing simpler for expats. Our CPAs can help you request ITINs for your spouse or children, so you can easily file your U.S. taxes. Call the CPAs for American expatriates at US Tax Help to learn more today at (541) 362-9127.

What Are ITINs?

Individual taxpayer-identification numbers, also known as ITINs, are unique numbers assigned to taxpayers in certain situations. Beyond that, what are they, and do all U.S. taxpayers need one to file their taxes?

The IRS will assign ITINs to U.S. taxpayers who do not have an SSN. This includes green card holders and resident aliens who are not yet American citizens. When these individuals need to pay their taxes, they do not have an SSN to verify their identities. That’s why the IRS issues ITINs to the necessary taxpayers. These nine-digit numbers help the IRS process tax documents.

Do Expats Need ITINs?

While expats don’t generally need an ITIN for themselves, they may need to learn about them in certain circumstances. For example, American expats with foreign spouses or dependents may need to file for ITINs for their loved ones for tax purposes.

ITINs for Foreign Spouses

Perhaps you’ve lived overseas for a while as a U.S. expat and have since gotten married. If your spouse is not an American citizen or resident, they don’t automatically have an SSN or an ITIN.  This can be an issue for married couples who want the advantages of filing joint taxes. As an American expat, you still have to file your annual tax return with the IRS as long as you retain your citizenship. For married couples, it can be beneficial to file jointly. You can lower your tax liability and increase your standard deduction if you do.

In order to file jointly, both spouses will need either a SSN or an ITIN. Obtaining one can be difficult from outside of the United States, so a CPA, like those at US Tax Help, can offer assistance. It can be advantageous to obtain an ITIN for your foreign spouse so that you can file your annual taxes with the IRS as a married couple.

ITINs for Foreign Dependents

American expats may stay abroad for decades. They can build lives, even families while overseas.  If you and your spouse are established residents in a foreign country and have no plans of moving back to the United States, then you may not explore establishing American citizenship and getting SSNs for your kids. Although your children may not be U.S. citizens, you still are. Because of that, you have to file taxes in the United States annually. There are tax credits available to American parents, and taxpayers generally claim dependents if they have them. So, what can expat parents do?

With the help from an accountant, like those at US Tax Help, you can file for an ITIN for your non-American children. When you claim dependents for the Child Tax Credit, you usually need to provide their SSNs. Because your children might not have SSNs, you must provide a valid ITIN. This is a situation where U.S. expats will need to learn how to get an ITIN, not for themselves but their dependents.

What Forms Do Expats Need to Get ITINs?

In order to get ITINs for their spouses or dependents, there are certain forms American expats must complete. Learning which forms are required is crucial so that you can get a valid ITIN for the necessary parties for tax purposes.

U.S. expats requesting ITINs for spouses or children need to use IRS Form W-7, Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. You may need guidance from an accountant, such as the CPAs at US Tax Help, to complete this form. IRS Form W-7 requires personal information, like an applicant’s name, address, and country of citizenship. You’ll need to include the American expat’s SSN and the relation to the applicant. For example, if you’re applying for an ITIN for your foreign spouse, you’ll check the box that indicates the relationship and include your SSN beside it. The process is the same for dependent applicants as well.

It’s important for U.S. expats to know that their spouses’ or children’s ITIN numbers can expire if not used on an annual tax return for three years. If an ITIN expires because it has not been used for three years, the process is the same to renew an ITIN or request a new one. Individuals can complete Form W-7 at any time throughout the tax year, but your request must be accepted before Tax Day for married couples to file jointly or to claim dependents on your taxes.

Call Our CPAs Today to Get ITINs

If you have a family overseas as an American expat, you should know how to get ITINs for your spouse and dependents. Call the CPAs for American expatriates at US Tax Help today to learn more about ITINs at (541) 362-9127.