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How Do I Apply for an ITIN and File State Taxes?

If you're wondering about where to find an ITIN for yourself or your spouse, chances are good that your tax return for the coming tax year will be complicated. Known properly as "Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers," ITINs are issued to virtually everyone who works legally in the United States. In fact, even undocumented immigrant workers may be able to claim ITINs using false Social Security Numbers. Millions of individuals who reside in the U.S. on short-term and long-term visas are able to procure ITINs and use them to file their tax returns in a legal and timely fashion.

If you lack an ITIN, it may be your first year as a U.S. taxpayer. To procure an ITIN, you'll need to execute a number of tedious steps. Since you'll need to budget at least four months for the issuance of your ITIN, you must begin this process before the close of the tax year for which you're filing. If you don't obtain your new identification number before the April 15 tax-filing deadline, you may be subject to financial and criminal penalties.

In the event that the processing of your ITIN application is delayed, it's far from guaranteed that the IRS will extend your tax-filing deadline beyond April 15. In most cases, the agency won't take this step unless the error involved a processing miscue. If you're responsible for the filing error, you may have no recourse.

To obtain an ITIN for yourself or your spouse, you'll need to file a W-7 form with your tax return. Since these documents can't be e-filed, you'll need to do this through certified mail. In addition, you'll need to get your W-7 notarized by a notary public. W-7 documents that haven't been notarized will be returned to the address from which they were sent.

The need for an ITIN often arises among American expatriates who marry foreign nationals in their countries of residence. If this describes your situation, you'll need to follow the steps outlined above. However, you may have trouble finding a suitable notary public to authorize your spouse's W-7 document. Instead, you'll need to submit the document to a process known as "Apostilling." In many cases, this must be done by an official government representative, lawyer or other individual with certain legal knowledge and clearances. If you're living in a remote location, this may require you to travel a significant distance. Once you've properly certified the documents, you'll need to send them to the IRS's in-house ITIN processing facility.

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