How to file ITIN and Taxes on H4 and Dependents

How to File Taxes in US on H4 Visa, Dependents + Apply ITIN Number ?

In Living in USA by Ruchika42 Comments

As we all know that H4 visa holders are not eligible to have a Social Security Number (SSN), but for filing U.S. tax returns and claiming them dependent on H1 visa holders, they do require a unique identification number, which is called Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).  On H4 visa, me and my daughter (18 months) had no SSN number and we needed ITIN to file our tax returns. There are different ways to apply for ITIN, I am outlining them with my experience on ITIN submission and tax filing.

Important note is that you cannot apply for ITIN number beforehand, you need to have the actual tax return to file taxes and apply for ITIN number at that same time. Also, don’t file your tax return without ITIN’s else you might not get claims or tax benefits that H4 holders are entitled for.

Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) and H4 Visa Holders :

What is ITIN Number ? 
Basically, it is a nine-digit tax processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to foreign nationals (both resident and non-resident aliens) who have federal tax reporting or filing requirements but are not eligible to obtain a SSN. It is for federal tax purposes only.

Why do H4 Visa holder need ITIN number ? 
ITIN number helps individuals comply with the U.S. tax laws, and to provide a means to efficiently process and account for tax returns, payments and refunds under the provisions of a U.S. tax treaty.

When do we need to apply for ITIN number ? 
We need to apply for ITIN as soon as we are ready to file our federal income tax return for a tax year, as we need to attach the return to our ITIN application.

How to Apply for ITIN Number and File Taxes?  What do we need? Documents List ? 
An application for ITIN must include all of the following set of documents. I have described details about each of the documents and how to get them or other alternatives.

1. Application form – Form W7 :The form used for this ITIN application is Form W-7, which can be downloaded from the IRS website along with the instructions on how to fill out the form. Since we need to submit a W-7 for each ITIN we apply for, I filled one W-7 for me and one for my child. There are different options available to choose for reason of applying ITIN, for me it was “e, spouse of resident alien” and “d, dependent of resident alien” for my little one. For tax purposes, spouse is not regarded as dependent. See below.

 Link to download W7 form and instructions: https://www.irs.gov/uac/about-form-w7

2. Federal income tax return: Your original, valid tax return(s) for which the ITIN is needed. We cannot e-file the tax return if we applying for ITIN. Attach Form W-7 to the front of your valid Federal Income Tax Return (Form 1040, Form1040A, and Form 1040EZ) unless you qualify for an exception (see page 3 of Form W-7). You may use TurboTax or other free e-software to fill your return, leave the SSN section blank (for whom you are applying ITIN), fill your return and print it out.

As you will be filing your tax return as an attachment to your ITIN application, you should NOT mail your return to the address listed in the Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ instructions. Instead, send your Tax return, Form W-7 and proof of identity documents to the address listed in the Form W-7 instructions at : Internal Revenue Service, Austin Service Center, ITIN Operation, P.O. Box 149342, Austin, TX 78714-9342.

Always keep a copy of your file and you don’t need to give return envelope for sending back original documents. Applicants are permitted to include a prepaid Express Mail or courier envelope for faster return delivery of their documents. The IRS will then return the documents in the envelope provided by the applicant

3. Supporting Documents for Tax Filing: The original documents or certified copies of them to establish your identity and your connection to a foreign country (“foreign status”) and support the information provided on the Form W-7. The documents should be acceptable as proof of identity and foreign status.

*A certified document is one that the original issuing agency provides and certifies as an exact copy of the original document and contains an official stamped seal from the agency.

An original and valid passport is the only document acceptable as proof of identity and foreign status. If you do not wish to provide your passport (or certified copy of a valid passport) or it is unavailable, you must submit any 2 of the following 12 documents (including at least one identification with photo and one identification from your country):
National identification card (must show photo, name, current address, date of birth and expiration date), U.S. driver’s license, Foreign driver’s license, US state identification card, Foreign voter’s registration card, US military identification card, Foreign military identification card, Visa issued  by US department of state, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) photo identification, Civil birth certificate (for dependents under 18 years only unless you submit a passport), Medical records (dependents under age 6 only) and School records (dependents under 14 years and/or students under 18 years only). All documents have to be latest except birth certificate as it doesn’t expire.

Update for tax year 2016: ‘Proof of U.S. residency’ is required for dependents. Effective October 1, 2016, the IRS will no longer accept passports that do not have a date of entry into the U.S. as a stand-alone identification document unless the dependents are from Mexico, Canada, or dependents of U.S. military personnel stationed overseas. Thus, now we are required to submit one of following document depending on dependent age:

  • If under 6 years of age: A U.S. medical record that lists the applicant’s name and U.S. address.
  • If under 18 years of age: A U.S. school record that lists the applicant’s name and U.S. address.
  • If 18 years of age or older: U.S. school records, rental statement, utility bill, or bank statement that lists the applicant’s name and U.S. address.

Certification of Supporting documents: According to revised rule in 2013, application for ITIN, must include original documentation or certified copies of these documents. The certification can be done by the issuing agency or U.S. embassy or consulate. Notarized or Apostilled copies of documentation are no longer accepted.

How to get a certified copy?

  • One can get his home country government agency (issuing authority of the document, which in the case of a passport is the embassy of the country that issued it) to endorse that the passport photocopy.
  • The other good option for certification available to those not in U.S. (like back in homeland country) is to go to the U.S. Embassy or one of the U.S. Consulate offices. This certification is equivalent to the certification by the IRS itself and is accepted by the IRS. But yes, the U.S. embassy is normally located in the country’s capital city only, and not all of the smaller cities have a U.S. Consulate office.

For these above options, check your local embassy office (if any) or U.S. Consulate office website for availability (as not all offices certify the documents), the prices and prior appointment. Get the copies of documents (in case of passports all the pages, which bear entry and exit stamps, first page, last page, visa pages). They may want only color photocopies. Take the appointment letter print out and carry all the originals and color photocopies at appointment time. Get your copies certified and send those to IRS by mail with return and W7 form.

To check U.S. embassy in your country for certification: http://www.usembassy.gov/

*In lieu of sending original documentation, applicants also have the option to use a CAA and designated TAC locations (explained further).

Where to apply for ITIN and File Tax Return for H4 Visa Holder and Dependents?

  1. Traditional Mail ( Normal Post) : First option is to mail Form W-7, tax return and supporting documents to IRS office. It’s always better to use certified mail to keep a track of your application. But here is the catch, as per IRS requirements either the original documents or certified copies of these documents have to be submitted. Sending anyone of these is sometimes risky or not feasible.
    • Original passport: As in most of the cases, the passport is sufficient as it would serve both the purposes but many people are not comfortable for sending original passport as it is the most important document in alien country. We had a recent bad experience when a UPS guy dropped my husband renewed passport to someone at next door; luckily, we were tracking the passport. We had our Indian travel planned for next month also so sending away passport was not at all an option for us.
    • Options – Certified Copies : Alternative for not sending the original passport was certified/endorsed copies of passport. But for this our problems were obvious, nearest Indian embassy was at least 8-hour drive.

2. Apply in person at Local TAC/IRS: An alternate of mailing original or certified copies of documents to IRS office is to apply for an ITIN by bringing completed W7 and tax return forms and documentation (original and 2 photo copies) to any IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center (TACs) in the United States or IRS office. TACs provide in-person help in providing ITIN on appointment basis (update, from 2017 onwards) and are able to authenticate passports and National ID documents. For dependents, TACs can verify passports, national identification cards, and birth certificates. These documents will be returned to you immediately.

For us, the nearest office IRS was at least 30 min drive, that too operating on weekdays with same working hours as my husband’s and on walk-in basis. One of our friend had applied ITIN the previous year from there and it took him a whole day, so waiting there in long queue with a toddler after taking off from work was for sure not good option for us.

Update: From 2017 onwards, TAC will work on ‘appointment basis’ only so it could be a relief to many taxpayers and ITIN applicants.

Location of IRS center near you: https://apps.irs.gov/app/officeLocator/index.jsp

  1. Through a certified acceptance agent (CAA): Taking all factors (not willing to send original passport, busy working hours, unavailability of certified copies etc.) into account, applying through a CAA was best suited option for my family for filing our taxes and ITIN. These CAA’s are authorized by the IRS and can help complete returns and file Form W-7. They can verify the original documents or certified copies for primary and secondary applicants, prepare a certificate of accuracy and forward application with copies of the documents they reviewed to the IRS for processing. For dependents, CAA’s can now verify passports and birth (update for 2017) certificates.

One of our friend referred us to a CAA who had her office within 5 miles from our place. You can check CAA in your area at link below. She helped us out in filing our taxes and had good knowledge too. We came to U.S. a year before in Feb so we filed our return as “Married Filing jointly” using 1040 A and submitted photocopies of our passport and original marriage certificate. Since it was a requirement to submit original documents of dependents (my daughter in my case) that time in 2015 (if applying through CAA), and we didn’t want to submit her original passport, we submitted her original birth certificate and her medical record with her ITIN application. Usually IRS sends the original certificates back, our friends got their child birth certificate back. We didn’t get ours back; as we had a backup, we never followed up. Over all, it took us 40-45 mins in whole process with prior appointment and around $170 (with peace of mind protection) but yes we were totally satisfied and when she told about the juicy check which we were to get was the best part 😛 (though it depends how you have filled W2 form initially).

Location of CAA in your area: https://www.irs.gov/individuals/acceptance-agent-program

What happens after you file for ITIN and Taxes ? Duration of Processing ?
Within around 6 weeks after applying we got letter regarding our ITIN number and return. This is the average time limit for processing though it may take longer is you apply in peak time (end Jan-Mar) or from overseas. If some doesn’t receive any letter from the IRS in or after 7 weeks, he can call the IRS to check the status of application at the IRS telephone assistance number: 1-800-829-1040.

More information about taxes and or ITIN visit:

What was your experience filing Taxes? Any Additional pointers ?

Image Credit : pixabay.com/en/partner-hand-in-hand-family-group-1277168/

 

Related Articles


Comments ( 42 )

  1. Redbus2USUser

    Hi,

    I applied for an ITIN for my wife along with my federal tax refund on February 7 2017. I received a notice CP566 on March 17 2017 to share the original passport of my wife. I sent them my wife’s passport on March 22 2017. It was delivered on March 24 2017. I got a CP567 notice today saying that my wife’s ITIN application is rejected because they didn’t receive the document that they requested for and we didn’t receive the original passport back. Has anyone faced this situation before?

  2. Suyash Nigam

    Hi,

    I had applied for the ITIN for my wife and had got the Passport documents verified at the TAC. Now we got a CP566 asking for the passport again. We are planning to send the certified copy but the concern is that the Indian consulate does not certify the Visa page. They only certify the first and last pages.

    What should be done about the visa page. My wife is already in the US.

    1. author
      Ruchika

      Hi Suyash,

      I am not sure whether certification of’ Visa page’ is ‘mandatory’ for ITIN while certifying passport photocopy in your case. W-7 Instructions do suggest photocopy of important passport pages but they have also mentioned that certify copy must include the U.S. visa pages if ‘a visa is required’ for your Form W-7 application like in case of dependents. Check back with IRS helpline for the same. I also read in few threads that Indian consulate certified Visa page but I guess I don’t have so concrete information. Its better to cross check.

  3. Biswakesan Patro

    hello,
    I applied ITIN for my wife along with my tax return through my tax preparer. She is a CAA agent. After couple of weeks I got a letter (CP 566) from IRS asking for some supporting documents or to send her original passport. Can I make an appointment at the local IRS office and certify the documents or passport of my wife. Visa expiration date is sep 2016. But I got my I-797 renewed. After that I never went to India for a restamping.Is this the reason I got cp-566 letter from IRS . Can we go to local IRS office and verify the documents there so that I can get my wife’s passport back.

    Please reply

    Thanks,
    Biswa

    1. author
      Ruchika

      Hi Biswakesan,

      It could be lack of any of supporting document too. You can inquire from IRS helpline for the reason behind. Also check back with your CAA, she should help else IRS office is an option.

    1. nimesh

      Hi,
      Thanks for this note!
      Am hoping to get clarification on one item.
      I shall print the tax return indicating my married status, attach my spouse’s W7 and then mail it to the IRS. Correct?
      Turbo Tax keeps asking for my Spouse’s ITIN or SSN before allowing me to print the tax return.
      Chicken/Egg kind of situation.
      Thanks again,
      nimesh

      1. author
        Ruchika

        Hi Nimesh,

        Skip error check, save the forms as pdf on your system and then print. Also, under file tab you will see ‘file by mail’ option where you can download forms.

  4. Bharat

    Hi Ruchika,

    There is an entry for “Date of Entry into US” in the W-7 form. Is it the first date of entry or latest?
    I came to US with my wife in Apr 2016 first time, then we travelled to India in Jan 2017 and came back in Feb 2017. All dates are stamped on passport.
    Which one needs to be entered in W-7?

    Thanks,
    Bharat.

  5. Vijay

    Hi, For itin, I have a medical summary for my daughter who is 1 year old . It has all information except hospital phone number. Any idea how to request details from hospital on letterhead for itin to accompany the medical record and what information or format it has to be. Appreciate your help

    1. Vijay

      Also forgot to mention she has a valid date of Entry stamp in her passport. Is us residency proof required if there is a valid date of entry. Thanks

      1. author
        Ruchika

        Hi Vijay,

        Proof of residency is not required if her passport has valid entry stamp.

        You will require her medical summary only if you are not using her passport for proof of identity and foreign status.

        You can normally request hospital to provide the updated information you need. There is no specific format but a medical record should include following,
        -It must be dated no more than 12 months from the date of the Form W-7 application.
        -It must contain the child’s name, date of birth, and verifiable address.
        -Shot/immunization records (will be accepted only if they document the applicant’s name and chronological dates of the applicant’s medical history and care).
        -Record must document the name, address, and phone number of the doctor, hospital, or clinic where treatment was last administered. If this information is not printed on the medical record, the medical record must be accompanied by a dated letter providing the required information on official letterhead from the federal authority, physician, hospital, or clinic that administered the latest care of the child.

        1. vijay

          Thanks for the Reply. Just to clarify one more item – Valid entry stamp is the customs and border protection seal which they put at the port of entry at the airport immigration with date admitted correct? There is also a visa class but valid until date is not filled but its there in i94. Let me know whether my understanding is correct. Thanks

  6. Anoop Thomas

    Hi Ruchika,

    had a question regarding starting Oct 1 2016,‘Proof of U.S. residency’ is required for dependents.
    Is this required only if the date of entry into US is not stamped on the VISA or it a mandate anyways?
    Please clarify. Thanks!

    1. author
      Ruchika

      Hi Anoop,

      Earlier passport was regarded as stand alone document but now (according to new rule) passport is no longer regarded as a stand-alone document for dependents if no date of entry into the United States is present. Thus applicants claimed as dependents ‘must’ prove U.S. residency (unless the applicant is from Mexico or Canada or the applicant is a dependent of U.S. military personnel stationed overseas).

      If date of entry into US is not stamped on the VISA, additional documentation is required. Else nothing.

  7. Lakshmi

    I found this article and the comments on this page very helpful in my application for H4 ITIN a couple of years back: https://sreenath.net/2014/04/03/tax-returns-itin-h4/

  8. Kart

    Hello,
    I have a few questions.
    1) My wife is here on H4 (no EAD), and zero income. Does she HAVE to file taxes? Is there any legal requirement for her to file taxes?
    2) If the answer to the above is NO, then can i still file as Married Filing Separate?

    From reading the earlier answers, it seems like H4 with zero income only has to file taxes if the H1 wants to take advantage of tax savings from Married Filing Jointly, is that correct?

  9. Rohan

    Thanks so much for the info. I have a question regarding 1040 item 61: Health care: individual responsibility (see instructions) Full-year coverage. Were you present in the US for entire or part of the year. If somebody got married in the middle of the year and their wife came to the US after that, does she need to pay penalty for not having insurance in the part of the tax year prior to coming to the US? Or should they select full-year coverage?

  10. Baldeep Singh

    Hello

    I have a quick question on the medical records for the dependent under 6 years of age. Is there a particular format of the medical format that I should ask for from the pediatrician’s office?

    Would really appreciate a response on this 🙂

    1. author
      Ruchika

      Hi Baldeep,

      There is no specific format but a medical record should include following,
      -It must be dated no more than 12 months from the date of the Form W-7 application.
      -It must contain the child’s name, date of birth, and verifiable address.
      -Shot/immunization records (will be accepted only if they document the applicant’s name and chronological dates of the applicant’s medical history and care).
      -Record must document the name, address, and phone number of the doctor, hospital, or clinic where treatment was last administered. If this information is not printed on the medical record, the medical record must be accompanied by a dated letter providing the required information on official letterhead from the federal authority, physician, hospital, or clinic that administered the latest care of the child.

  11. James

    An SSN is needed when applying for a State Tax return, in my case New york. Do you file the state tax refund application along with the federal tax refund and W7 application?

    Moreover, my wife and me travels a lot, therefore she cannot afford sending her passport for 6 weeks. If we apply to a local IRS office, are they keeping the passport ?

    1. author
      Ruchika

      Hi James,

      If you are applying at IRS office, they will return her passport back at same time.

      Regarding state taxes, I am not very sure as I live in tax free state. Few states accept state returns if you write “ITIN Applied” under the SSN fields and attached a copy of the filled Form W-7 as proof. Else, you have to wait to file your state tax till you get your ITIN. Your tax assistance agent at IRS office can help you with that at the time of applying ITIN with federal return.

    1. author
      Ruchika

      Hi Ravi,

      I am not sure what you are trying to ask, esp “If you do not have visa”! ? Is it a new passport like in case of US born child? If so then you have SSN for child and ITIN is not required. If something else please elaborate.

      1. Ravi

        Hi Ruchika,

        Thank you for replying back
        New passport was issued after the previous passport was lost. The previous passport had a visa; but new issue passport does not have visa.

        What would be best way to file ITIN

        1. author
          Ruchika

          Hi Ravi,

          You can submit any of two documents (if not using passport) listed in table on page 2 of https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/iw7.pdf depending on age of your dependent.

          Also, according to recent law for dependents (for proof of residency), a passport that doesn’t have a date of entry will no longer be accepted as a stand-alone identification document for dependents. So one has to furnish one of additional document with passport also depending on age of dependent.

          – If under 6 years of age: A U.S. medical record that lists the applicant’s name and U.S. address.
          – If under 18 years of age: A U.S. school record that lists the applicant’s name and U.S. address.
          – If 18 years of age or older: U.S. school records, rental statement, utility bill, or bank statement that lists the applicant’s name and U.S. address.

          I am not sure if they will accept passport without any kind of visa stamp at all. Its better to submit other two documents as mentioned in publication esp. if you are mailing your documents to IRS.

  12. Sulaiman

    Hi,

    I filled my tax returns and W7 (to apply ITIN for my wife and daughter) and went to local IRS office in Washington DC after taking an appointment. The guy carefully looked the forms and identification documents. He accepted and stamped them and provided reciepts to us. Happily we went back home.
    After couple of weeks we recieved notification from IRS that W7 detail is missing. It was strange because we were sure everything was done properly and IRS local office carefully looked all the details before accepting it. Anyhow, I again mailed the W7 details to them. After another six weeks IRS sent a check of a very low amount stating the reason that I did not supply ITIN information of my spouse and daughter and they are fining me $25 bucks for misinformation. In other words they were saying that i dont have wife and daughter and i tried to fraud them. WTF??

    I have now appointment with CPA to resolve the issue. But I would suggest to take ITIN for your H4 dependents as soon as you land on US soil. Don’t wait for tax return season for that. Seems like they are different departments within IRS and have serious lack of communication between them.

    Find your local IRS office, take appointment and show them identification documents and submit W7 there to take ITIN. Do that before March or after August when IRS local offices are usually empty with no queues to wait for hours (special note for parents with small children).

    And by the way if you are employed and getting salary then usually they owe you to give your money back. Therefore you are not bound to follow “tax return deadlines” if taxes were deducted regulary from your salary. Don’t hassle for ITIN in fear of deadlines (unless you actually owe some money to them).

    1. Lorenzo

      Sadly you can’t apply for ITIN without attaching the federal tax return. So no, you can’t apply just for the ITIN as soon as you land on U.S. soil

      1. author
        Ruchika

        Yes, federal tax return is required to to file ITIN so you cannot file for the same as soon as you land US. Also, if you don’t owe any money and are expecting a return, there is no deadline to file a return or apply for a ITIN in peak periods. But failure to timely file the tax return with a complete Form W-7 may result in the denial of refundable credits, such as the Child Tax Credit etc.

  13. Rubina

    Hi
    Does this apply for h4 EAD also. I have an EAD but with a h4 visa. Recently in an interview they asked me what form should I fill up. A-W8 or A-W9. What should I answer?

  14. S

    Hello – Can you please post an article on the experience for filing taxes in India for people on H1 in USA.

    Thanks in Advance.

  15. CoolGuy

    Hi Ruchika,
    Thanks for detailed article. But i have basic query which i think you should had answered first.
    1.Do dependents who are not working need to file tax returns and if yes why?
    2.What if they don’t file return? what are pros and cons.
    3.Does an h1b visa holder get any tax benefit if his spouse and children are living in USA totally dependent on him.
    4.What are crucial dates of filing tax returns in USA?

    Please take time to answer these questions it will make your article a lot holistic.

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      CoolGuy,

      1. If one person is on H-1 and then the other is on H-4, then the taxes should be filed as “married filing jointly” in order to avail maximum benefit. Your slab rates almost double for the same tax rate when filing as married filing separately. As one spouse has no income, its a good saving. However, for this to happen, H-4 visa holder needs to have an ITIN (or SSN, if previously issued).

      2. In order to avail best tax return, it should be filed as married filing jointly for which ITIN would be needed. If H-4 holder is not included in tax return, then you would end up paying higher taxes.

      3. See (1)

      4. April 15 is the deadline to file tax return for previous year. By Jan 31, you should receive W-2 from your employer. 1099s from other financial institutions is usually received by 1st or 2nd week of March.

      1. author
        Ruchika

        Cool guy,
        Few more addition:
        3. Child benefit can only be availed if child is living in USA with H1 holder. For spouse, you can claim benefits even if she is not living in USA or even never had visited USA. For “married filing jointly” , both have to be show global income, if wife was working. Else one can also opt for married filing separately and claim personal exemption and spouse exemption but those may not be as good as married filing jointly.

        You can refer to link provided in above article for more basic understanding regarding tax: Tax guidelines for aliens https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p519.pdf

  16. ITIN rejected

    Hi
    I have mailed the certified passport copy on April 7 but when I spoke to irs office customer service guy then he told me that they didnt recieve my certified copy mail and hence rejected the ITIN request.
    What should I do?

    1. author
      Ruchika

      Hi,

      Did you check your refund status online? Also, IRS sends a notice CP566 for additional or missing information and CP567 for rejection. If you have got any of these, reply to IRS accordingly while sending needed documents again.

Leave a Comment

Comments Policy :
  • Comments are to drive conversation, add your thoughts, experiences, ask questions!
  • Do NOT write hate speech, swear words, or get into fight. Maintain etiquette
  • Enter your Name, valid Email, URL(optional - Facebook, LinkedIn profile URLs).
  • Your email will NOT be published. Do NOT post any phone numbers, email-ids
  • Do NOT post any links from other websites, unless official sites, University websites.
  • By submitting your comment, you agree to Term and Conditions of our website.