The PATH Act and What You Need to Know About Expiring ITINs

The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015, which was passed by Congress and signed into law in December 2015, requires taxpayers to renew expired ITINs in order to file their taxes. The IRS announced that more than 1 million ITINs are set to expire at the end of 2020.

ITINs that are expected to expire and need to be renewed are:

  • Ones not used at least once in the last three years to file taxes and those issued before 2013
  • ITINs with middle digits 88 or 90 through 99  (xxx-88-xxx, xxx-90-xxxx, xxx-91-xxxx, etc)
  • Previously expired ITINs with middle digits 70 through 87

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

If you have an expiring ITIN and need to file your 2020 tax return (the one you file in 2021), the IRS encourages you to submit an ITIN application package to avoid any unnecessary delays and allow for smoother and faster processing of your tax return.

Here are some helpful answers to some common questions around renewing your ITIN.

How do I renew my ITIN?

You can renew your ITIN for free by filling out a Form W-7 and submitting required documentation. Your W-7 application can be submitted via mail to the IRS or you can call and make an appointment at a designated IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center.

Do I have to pay someone to renew my ITIN?

No, you can renew your ITIN for free. You don’t need to pay someone or go anywhere to renew your ITIN. You simply fill out the Form W-7, supply the required supporting documentation, and mail the W-7 application to the IRS.

I heard you have to include your tax return for the current tax year with your ITIN application. Is that true?

No, if you are renewing your existing ITIN, you do not need to send your tax return with the Form W-7 renewal application.

Does everyone with an expiring ITIN have to renew?

No, there are some cases where you would not need to renew like if your ITIN is only used on information returns filed with the IRS by third parties.

What about my spouse and kids? Do they have to renew their expiring ITINs?

Yes, if you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien and you file jointly with your spouse who has an expiring ITIN, your spouse will need to renew their ITIN.

If your kids are eligible to be claimed as dependents on your tax return then their ITINs will also need to be renewed in order to claim certain credits. Under tax reform, the dependent exemption was eliminated from 2018 through 2025. There were also changes to requirements in order to claim the Child Tax Credit. One of the changes relates to the ITIN. Now under the new tax law, you have to have a social security number in order to claim the Child Tax Credit and not an ITIN. You can claim the new Other Dependent Credit (ODC) up to $500 with an ITIN.

Can I renew my family’s ITINs together? What if their middle digit has not been identified for expiration? 

Yes, the family option to renew ITINS for the entire family at the same time remains available. Even if members of your family have an ITIN with middle digits that have not been identified for expiration they can be renewed at the same time. The family members who received a renewal letter from the IRS can choose to renew the family’s ITINs together. Family members are considered the tax filer, spouse, and any dependents that will be claimed on the tax return. 

How long will it take for the IRS to process my renewal application?

If you apply soon, per the IRS, allow 7 weeks for them to notify you of your ITIN application status. Once tax season opens, processing is expected to take up to 11 weeks, so send in your renewal application as soon as possible to ensure there are no delays in processing your tax return and so you can e-file your tax return.

What happens if I don’t renew my expired ITIN and try and file my return? 

If you file your tax return with an expired ITIN you may experience processing delays and possible loss of eligibility for some tax benefits until your ITIN is renewed. However, once you renew your ITIN, these potential tax benefits will be reconsidered.

Don’t worry about knowing these tax rules. TurboTax will ask you simple questions about you and give you the tax deductions and credits you are eligible for based on your entries. If you have questions, you can connect live via a one-way video to a TurboTax Live CPA or tax expert with an average 12 years experience to get your tax questions answered. You can even connect virtually with a dedicated tax expert who will prepare and file your tax return in entirety with TurboTax Live Full Service. TurboTax Live CPAs and tax experts are available in Spanish and English, year round and can even review, sign, and file your tax return. 

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