Your Tax Identification Number (TIN) is a unique nine-digit code that you’ll need to get your taxes done. It acts as your taxpayer identification number and is issued by the IRS. Your TIN is used to identify you and track your income tax returns.
The TIN is also necessary for anyone who receives money as a payment, such as wages, salary, tips, or other cash payments. If you don’t have a TIN and need one, you can get one through various methods.
You might be able to get a TIN if you:
- Are not eligible for a Social Security number • Are not eligible for an SSN due to certain restrictions in the U.S., such as being under 18 years old or having certain types of criminal convictions
- Have limited access to services like financial institutions, insurance companies, or other organizations Required documents for getting a Tax Identification Number include: Your original Social Security card or Form W-2
- Proof of your name (like marriage certificate) • Proof of your U.S. residency (like mortgage statement)
The first step toward filing your taxes is obtaining a tax identification number (TIN). Your TIN is what businesses and other organizations check when hiring, paying taxes to, or doing business with you.
It’s also the number they use to send you information about your taxes and account balances. You can get your TIN by contacting any of the following agencies:
The IRS Identity Protection Services.
If you have a SSN but would prefer to have a different number for tax purposes, you can use the IRS Identity Protection Services to get another number. The IRS will securely mail you a new taxpayer identification number.
You can either use this number now or keep your old number for future use. The IRS Identity Protection Services are free for all taxpayers. To use the service, you must be able to provide your full name, address, and date of birth. You must also be able to provide current copies of two pieces of identification, such as your driver’s license, passport, or birth certificate.
The IRS recommends keeping copies of your identification documents in a secure place, such as a safety deposit box or a locked file cabinet. The IRS will not return your original documents.
If you receive a notice from the IRS saying that you are eligible to use the Identity Protection Services, you will need to send your new taxpayer identification number to the address on the notice.
State Depository Libraries.
This agency is a great resource for individuals who do not have a SSN or are looking for a new number. State Depository Libraries have a variety of tax information, including publications and online resources for individuals who do not have a SSN.
When you visit a State Depository Library, be sure to bring with you documentation such as your name, address, date of birth, and government-issued photo identification. You may also want to bring your own laptop or tablet to use the library’s resources.
These public libraries are able to assist you in using your tax identification number (TIN) because they are a designated repository of taxpayer information. State Depository Libraries are not tax preparers and are not authorized to prepare income tax returns.
U.S. Department of Treasury Banks and Thrift Institutions.
If you do not have a SSN or would like to use a new number for tax purposes, you can visit a Department of Treasury Bank or Thrift Institution (such as a credit union, savings and loan, or savings bank) and request a new TIN.
At these locations, you will need to show your government-issued photo identification and sign a document designating the institution as your tax provider.
can expect the Department of Treasury to issue your new number within 10 days. You can expect the number to be valid for five years. You can expect to pay a fee of $12 for the first two digits and $5 for each additional digit.
U.S. Post Office Stamps and Post Offices.
The U.S. Postal Service is another option for obtaining a new Tax Identification Number (TIN). You can visit any post office and request a new number. You can also visit your local post office and ask the clerk to assist you.
The Post Office is expected to issue your new number within 10 days. You can expect your new number to be valid for five years. You can expect to pay a fee of $12 for the first two digits and $5 for each additional digit.
Employer Identification Numbers (EINs).
If you have a SSN and do not want to apply for a TIN, you can ask your employer to request an EIN for you. An EIN is a nine-digit number that identifies a business.
You can use an EIN for all your business transactions, including opening a bank account or applying for a credit card. An EIN is not the same as your Social Security number (SSN).
Your SSN is something that you alone know, while your EIN is something that all businesses know and you can share with others. However, many banks and credit card companies will accept both an EIN and an SSN as a form of identification.
Understanding the TIN Basics.
A TIN is a nine-digit number that is assigned to you by the government. To keep track of your TIN, you will need to write it down and memorize it. You will also need to store it safely, such as in a lockbox or safe deposit box. There are a few rules you should follow when memorizing your TIN:
- Your TIN must be easy to remember, such as your birth date or your child’s initial.
- The first two digits of your TIN must be easily distinguishable from each other, such as the last two digits of your birth date.
- The remaining seven digits must be easy to read and spell. They should be separated by at least one space and not be a sequence such as 222.
Keep in Mind
(1). If you have a SSN, you can still apply for a new TIN at one of the four locations listed above. You can do this even if you have not yet applied for your SSN. You can also use a TIN issued by any of these locations as your SSN.
(2). The same TIN can be used for both federal and state taxes. However, you cannot use the same number for both Social Security and Medicare taxes. You can, however, use the same number for both federal and state income taxes.
(3). If you use a state-issued driver’s license or ID card as identification to obtain a TIN at a state-issued depository library, state-issued banks and thrift institutions, or state-issued post office, that information will be collected by the library, bank, or post office and could be used for other purposes. You should ask the institution whether it shares information about you.
(4). It is illegal to use someone else’s TIN for tax purposes.
(5). Your TIN is not a Social Security number. It is not recommended to share your TIN with anyone.
Having a TIN is essential for government services and commercial transactions, so it’s important to keep it safe and memorized.
The TIN is different from your Social Security number and should be treated like a password or PIN. You can memorize it or write it down on a piece of paper, but it should not be shared with others. If you forget your TIN, you can apply for a new number online at the IRS website or by calling the toll-free number.