SSN or ITIN for Taxes

If you worked and earned money from a US source in the past year, you will need a Social Security Number (SSN) in order to file your tax return.

If you did not work and earn any money from a US source in the past year, you do not need a Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

I think I need a...

Apply for a Social Security Number (SSN)

Noncitizens authorized to work in the United States by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) can get a Social Security number. Social Security numbers are used to report a person’s wages to the government and to determine a person’s eligibility for Social Security benefits.

You can apply for a Social Security number by filling out a form and visiting the Social Security office. Once you have completed your application, you will receive a social security card that has your number on it. Do not share this number with anyone.

Am I eligible for a Social Security number?

You are eligible for an Social Security number if:

Fill out the SSN paperwork

Fill out the Social Security application using the instructions provided on the form. We recommend that you list your name exactly as it appears on your passport.

Once you've filled out the SSN paperwork, go to the Social Security office during business hours. Bring the following documents with you:

  • your passport
  • your visa
  • your printed 1-94 card
  • your DS-2019, I-20, or Employment Authorization Document (EAD)

Are you exempt from Social Security and Medicare taxes?

Some students and scholars are exempt from Social Security and Medicare taxes. This means that they can ask the government not to take money for those programs out of their paycheck.

Apply for an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN)

An ITIN would be issued to any individual who is not eligible to work in the United States, but may need a tax ID number to be paid an honorarium, certain scholarships or awards, or being claimed on a tax return as a dependent (not all dependents qualify).

There are two ways that you can apply for an ITIN:

  1. The applicant can appear in person at a local IRS office with his or her passport and appropriate documentation and fill out a form W-7. The W-7 is then processed by the IRS and the ITIN is issued in about 6 weeks.
  2. If you are a Non-Resident Alien for tax purposes, use Sprintax Returns. It will issue you the completed forms and instructions.

We do not recommend sending your original passport and Immigration documents to the IRS when applying for an ITIN.  Make an appointment with a local IRS office to obtain certified photocopies and use those in your mailed application.

SSN or ITIN for Dependents

Dependents who are being claimed as deductions on an income tax report must have a SSN or an ITIN. In most cases, a dependent can only be claimed on a Resident Alien tax report. However, spouses from Canada, Mexico, Korea, Japan and India (students, not researchers from India) may be eligible to be claimed on a Non-Resident Alien return. 

If using Sprintax, it will assist you in applying for an ITIN for dependents that qualify.

Dependents who need an SSN / ITIN:

  • F-2 being claimed on a tax report.
  • J-2 with NO work authorization but being claimed on a tax report.
  • H-4 being claimed on a tax report.
  • T-D being claimed on a tax report.

Dependents who do not need an SSN / ITIN:

  • F-1, F-2, J-1 and J-2 dependents who did not earn any US income in 2022 and are filing Form 8843 only