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Taxpayer identification number

What is a taxpayer identification number?

A taxpayer identification number (TIN) is used by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to process all tax-related documents and tax returns. Most United States citizens and permanent residents use their Social Security number as a TIN; the IRS issues special TINs to people who do not qualify for a Social Security number.

Deeper definition

Everyone who conducts business with the IRS needs a taxpayer identification number. This includes individuals filing returns, corporations, and limited liability companies. The IRS issues the following special TINs:

  • Employer identification number (EIN): Issued to businesses, estates, and trusts.
  • Individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN): Assigned to nonresident and resident foreign nationals as well as their spouses and children who do not qualify for a Social Security number.
  • Adoption taxpayer identification number (ATIN): Granted to individuals adopting a child for whom they cannot obtain a Social Security number before they must file taxes.
  • Preparer tax identification number (PTIN): Issued to professional tax preparers to use when preparing returns for other people.

Want to learn more? Bankrate can keep you up to date on what it all means.

Taxpayer identification number examples

EINs, also known as a federal tax identification numbers, are granted to companies, corporations, and partnerships. Entities involved with trusts, estates, real estate mortgage investment conduits, nonprofit organizations, farmers’ cooperatives, and retirement plan administrators also need an EIN.

According to the IRS, nonresident and resident aliens as well as their spouses and dependent children must have an ITIN if they need to file or report tax-related information and do not qualify for a Social Security number.

Individuals and couples in the process of adopting a child who is currently residing in their home may apply for an adoption taxpayer identification number if they cannot obtain a Social Security number for the child before their tax return is due.

Paid tax preparers apply for a PTIN. These professionals must renew their numbers each year and pay a fee to the IRS for both new and renewal PTINs. The IRS also has provisions for foreign tax preparers who do not have a Social Security number.

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