How to Avoid A Refund Delay if Your Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is Expiring

How to Avoid A Refund Delay if Your Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is Expiring

The IRS is urging taxpayers with an expiring Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) who need to file a return in the upcoming filing season to file a renewal application, Form W-7, in the next few weeks. Failure to do so will result in refund delays and possible loss of eligibility for some tax benefits.

A renewal application filed before the end of the year will be processed before one submitted in January or February. Currently and if complete and accurate, can be processed in as little as seven weeks. This time-frame is expected to lengthen to 11 weeks during tax season.

Who Needs an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)?

ITINs are used by people who have tax-filing or payment obligations under U.S. law but are not eligible for a Social Security number.

Under a recent law change by Congress, any ITIN not used on a tax return at least once in the past three years will expire on Jan. 1, 2017. In addition, any ITIN with middle digits of either 78 or 79 (9NN-78-NNNN or 9NN-79-NNNN) will also expire on that date.

Avoid Common Errors:

The IRS reports that missing information and/or insufficient supporting documentation are currently slowing down and holding up some ITIN renewal applications. Applicants should be sure to use the latest version of Form W-7, revised September 2016.

Do the following to ensure prompt processing your W-7:

  • At the top of the form, be sure to check the box that says, “Renew an existing ITIN.
  • Under, “Reason you’re submitting Form W-7,” every applicant must check one of the eight boxes. If more than one applies, be sure to check the option that best describes the tax purpose for filing the application. Do not write, “ITIN renewal,” in this section of the form, as it is not a valid reason.
  • On Line 3, an applicant living outside the United States should enter their foreign address, if different from the mailing address on Line 2. If now living in the U.S., be sure to enter the foreign country of last residence. (See the Form W-7 instructions for details.)
  • Include original supporting and required identification documentation, or certified copies from the issuing agency to prove foreign status and identity.

ITIN renewal applicants should keep in mind that only a passport with a U.S. entry date is now acceptable as a stand-alone identification document for dependents. This is a change from past policy, which means that dependent ITIN applicants who use a passport without a date of entry must provide additional documentation, along with the passport, to prove U.S. residency.

Acceptable documents include:

  • If under age 6, a U.S. medical record
  • If under age 18, a U.S. school record
  • If at least age 18, a U.S. school record for anyone who is a student. Otherwise, anyone 18 and over can provide a rental or bank statement or a utility bill listing the applicant’s name and U.S. address.

Dependents from Canada, Mexico, or dependents of U.S. military personnel stationed overseas are exempt from these additional requirements.

ITIN renewal applicants can get help by visiting, consulting a Certified Acceptance Agent or Acceptance Agent or making an appointment at an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC).

Here are details on each of these options:

  • The IRS website has information in several languages to assist with the renewal process. This includes Form W-7 and its instructions. Be sure to fill out the form completely, attach required documentation and mail it to the IRS. The IRS returns documents to applicants via standard U.S. mail within 60 days of receipt and processing of the Form W-7.
  • Acceptance Agents: Certified Acceptance Agents and Acceptance Agents submit Forms W-7 on behalf of their clients. Rather than mailing the IRS important original documents, applicants have the option to work with an IRS authorized CAA. The CAAs review documentation for taxpayers and their spouses as well as passports and birth certificates for dependents. Acceptance Agents complete the Form W-7 and send the original documents or previously certified copies of the documents to IRS for processing.
  • IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers: Applicants may submit W-7 applications in person with original documents at designated IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers. Employees at designated TACs certify original and certified copies of passports, National ID cards and birth certificates. Service at the TACs is by appointment. Schedule an appointment by calling 844-545-5640. See for a list of designated TACs that offer ITIN document authentication services.