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Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN)

Written By
Paul Tracy
Updated January 16, 2021

What is the Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN)?

Also called an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), a taxpayer identification number (TIN) is a nine-digit number that the IRS uses to identify individuals who do not have and are not required to obtain a Social Security number.

How Does the Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) Work?

TINs always begin with the number 9. Similar to Social Security numbers, TINs take the XXX-XX-XXXX pattern. The fourth and fifth digits always fall in the 70-88, 90-92, and 94-99 ranges. People can apply for a TIN using IRS Form W-7 ("Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number").

TINs are for tax purposes only; they do not replace Social Security numbers, authorize a person to work in the United States, or create eligibility for Social Security or other benefits. The IRS issues TINs regardless of immigration status because people both inside and outside the United States may have tax obligations to the United States under the Internal Revenue Code.

Why Does the Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) Matter?

TINs are not the same as Employer Identification Numbers (EINs). It’s also important to note that TINs are for federal tax purposes; states may have additional identification requirements for taxpayers who do not have Social Security numbers.

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