Adoption taxpayer identification number (ATIN)

What is an adoption taxpayer identification number?

An adoption taxpayer identification number (ATIN) is temporarily given to children who are in the process of being adopted when the adopting family doesn’t have or doesn’t know the child’s Social Security number. When the adopting parents file their tax returns and list an adopted child as a dependent, they can use the ATIN to identify the child while the adopting process is still pending.

Deeper definition

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issues an ATIN to children who are in the process of being adopted. The number is for the use of the adopting parents who wish to claim the child as a dependent on their tax returns when the child doesn’t yet have a Social Security or if the Social Security number is unknown.

An ATIN is necessary when the adoption process hasn’t been finalized, and one can be acquired by filing Form W-7A with the IRS. The child must be legally adopted and, if she has been adopted internationally, must have either a permanent resident alien card or certificate of citizenship.

The taxpayer requesting an ATIN for the child must be able to claim the child as a dependent, meaning that the child must live with the taxpayer and rely on the taxpayer for care. The taxpayer must also have the required placement documentation, which proves that a legal adoption has taken place or has been verified by an attorney, court order, or authorized hospital official.

As soon as the adoption is finalized, the child should no longer need an ATIN as she should have a Social Security number. The IRS will deactivate the ATIN upon notification that the adoption process is complete. ATINs are automatically deactivated after two years.

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Adoption taxpayer identification number example

Martin is a 2-year-old child who was rescued from a dangerous home environment and put up for adoption. He’s moved into his adoptive parents’ home before the process is complete so they can start caring for him right away. Because his birth mother has disappeared, it’s impossible to get his original Social Security number from her.

Martin’s adoptive parents file a form with the IRS to obtain an ATIN for him, which they use to claim Martin as a dependent on their tax return. Once the adoption process is complete, Martin’s new family files documentation with the IRS showing that he now has a Social Security number, and the ATIN is discontinued.



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