The IRS uses Taxpayer Identification Numbers (TINs) in the administration of U.S. tax laws. All TINs are issued by the IRS except for Social Security Numbers (SSNs), which are issued by the Social Security Administration (SSA) instead. You must provide your TIN on all tax returns, schedules, statements, and other tax-related documents.
There are 3 main types of TINs explained in this article:
• Social Security Number (SSN)
• Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)
• Employer Identification Number (EIN)
Social Security Number (SSN)
Your SSN is a unique 9-digit number that links you to the Social Security system. You are required to enter your SSN on your income tax return. If you are claiming a personal exemption for your spouse or dependent, you must provide their SSN on your tax return as well. If your spouse or dependent is not eligible for an SSN, you should enter their ITIN instead (see below).
Married couples should include both spouses SSNs on their tax return, whether they file jointly or separately. (If filing jointly, make sure the SSNs are listed in the same order as the names.) If you changed your name due to marriage/divorce, you should report the change to the Social Security Administration (SSA) before filing your tax return to avoid IRS processing delays.
To obtain an SSN for yourself or your dependent, file Form SS-5 (Application for a Social Security Card) with your local SSA office. It typically takes around 2 weeks to get an SSN.
Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)
If you are a nonresident or resident alien and you are not eligible for an SSN, you can obtain an ITIN from the IRS. ITINs are available for certain nonresident and resident aliens, their spouses, and their dependents.
To obtain an ITIN, file Form W-7 (Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) with the IRS. It typically takes around 6-10 weeks to get an ITIN.
You should enter the appropriate ITIN wherever an SSN is requested on your tax return. If you are requesting an ITIN in order to file your tax return, attach Form W-7 to your completed tax return. See the Form W-7 Instructions for more information.
Employer Identification Number (EIN)
An EIN (also referred to as a “federal tax identification number”) is a 9-digit number used by the IRS to identify a particular business entity. EINs are available for corporations, partnerships, sole proprietorships, trusts, estates, and other legal entities.
You should only have one EIN per business entity. Make sure to provide your EIN on every tax form and document that you send to the IRS or SSA. Do not use your SSN as a substitute for an EIN. If you have not been issued an EIN by the time your tax return is due, write “Applied For” and the date you applied wherever an EIN is requested.
For more information, see “IRS Requirements & How to Apply for an EIN.”
If you need more time to file your tax return, you can request a tax extension online.