The income tax filing requirements for immigrants are dependent on individual residency status. The requirements for a permanent resident are different from those for a nonresident alien. To file a joint income tax return, a nonresident alien married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident must have an individual taxpayer identification number.
Permanent resident aliens already have a Social Security number. A nonresident alien is an alien whose residency status in the U.S. is not permanent. Nonresident aliens are not eligible to receive Social Security numbers, so you must obtain an ITIN to file an income tax return.
A U.S. citizen or permanent resident married to a nonresident alien may file a joint return if they are married as of the last day of the tax year. The first year of filing jointly becomes more complex if the nonresident alien doesn’t already have an ITIN.
An application for an ITIN is made on IRS Form W-7, and it must be filed with your first income tax return that needs the number. Supporting documentation is also required to authenticate the information on the ITIN application. There are three methods available to submit the ITIN application and your tax return, along with the supporting documents.
Form W-7 can be mailed with your joint tax return to a specially designated IRS address. To receive approval of the ITIN application, original copies of specified supporting documents must be submitted with the application. The original copies will be mailed back to you. There are alternate methods that don’t entail the mailing of original copies of important documents.
IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers
Instead of mailing the items, you can take your tax return and the ITIN application to an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center, along with the necessary supporting documents. After the supporting documents are authenticated, they are returned to you immediately. Your tax return and the ITIN application are then forwarded to the IRS location that processes ITIN applications.
The IRS authorizes certain individuals and firms to act as agents for the purpose of authenticating supporting documents for ITIN applications. Some attorneys and accountants are acceptance agents. After authentication, the agent returns your supporting documents to you. The agent then forwards your income tax return and ITIN application to the IRS.
After approval, the IRS sends you a notification letter containing the newly issued ITIN. An ITIN is for tax reporting purposes and has no legal effect on your immigration status. Contact an immigration attorney from a firm like Tesoroni & Leroy for more information about obtaining an ITIN for your income tax return.