Loading the player...

What is a 'Tax Identification Number - TIN'

A tax identification number (TIN) is a nine-digit number used as a tracking number by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and is required information on all tax returns filed with the IRS. Employer tax ID numbers are issued to businesses by the IRS. These numbers are also nine digits long, but they are read as XX-XXXXXXX. 

 

BREAKING DOWN 'Tax Identification Number - TIN'

Tax identification numbers come in several different forms. Individuals are assigned TINs in the form of Social Security Numbers (SSNs), whereas businesses such as corporations and partnerships are assigned employer identification numbers (EINs). SSNs are tax identification numbers for individuals, and the Social Security Administration (SSA) issues them in the format of XXX-XX-XXXX. Trusts, fiduciaries and other non-business entities are assigned straight tax ID numbers. Other types of TINs include the individual tax identification number (ITIN), the adoption tax identification number (ATIN) and the preparer tax identification number (PTIN).

The IRS uses tax identification numbers to track taxpayers. The IRS issues all tax identification numbers except for SSNs. Filers must include the number on tax-related documents and when claiming benefits.

The tax identification number is also known as the taxpayer identification number. 

Social Security Numbers

The SSN is the most common form of tax identification numbers. A child must have a SSN before a parent can claim that child as a dependent for income tax purposes, so most parents voluntarily apply for the number on behalf of their children. The SSA processes applications for free, but there are also fee-based services that offer to complete applications for new parents.

Employer Identification Numbers

The IRS uses the EIN to identify corporations, trusts and estates that must pay taxes. These groups must apply for the number and use it to report their income for taxation purposes. Applying for an EIN is free and a business can obtain one immediately. 

Individual Tax Identification Number

The IRS issues ITINs to certain nonresident aliens who do not otherwise qualify for a SSN. The spouse of the nonresident alien must include the number on his tax returns when he files. In order to get an ITIN, the applicant must complete Form W-7 and submit documents supporting his status as a nonresident alien. Certain agencies — including colleges, banks and accounting firms — are able to help applicants obtain their ITIN.  

Adoption Tax Identification Numbers

The ATIN only applies to domestic adoptions when the adoptive parents cannot obtain the child's SSN in time to complete their tax returns in a timely manner. To qualify, the child must be a U.S. citizen and the adoption must be pending.

Preparer Tax Identification Number

The IRS began requiring listing of a PTIN on each return a tax preparer files beginning on Jan. 1, 2011. Prior to this date, use of the PTIN had been optional. Any preparer that charges to complete all or part of the tax return or refund for another individual must have and use the PTIN.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Taxpayer Identification Number ...

    A taxpayer identification number is a 9-digit identifier assigned ...
  2. Specific Share Identification

    Specific Share Identification helps investors selling shares ...
  3. Preparer Tax Identification Number ...

    Preparer Tax Identification Number - PTIN is an IRS identifier ...
  4. Personal Identification Number ...

    A personal identification number (PIN) is a numerical code used ...
  5. Social Security Number (SSN)

    A Social Security Number (SSN) is a numerical identifier assigned ...
  6. Taxpayer

    A taxpayer is an individual or business entity that is obligated ...
Related Articles
  1. Retirement

    The Purpose of Having a Social Security Number

    Find out when and why it's necessary to use your social security number and when you should avoid using it.
  2. Small Business

    Foreigner Starting A Business In The U.S.?

    Keep these four startup steps in mind before you do.
  3. Taxes

    How to File Your Child's First Income Tax Return

    Use this quick parental guide to help your child learn the tax-filing process and establish good habits.
  4. Taxes

    How the GOP Tax Bill Affects You

    Here's how the new tax bill changes the taxes you file in 2018.
  5. Retirement

    10 Ways to Protect Your Social Security Number

    Identity theft thrives in part because people must give their Social Security number for so many types of interactions. How can you protect yourself?
  6. Taxes

    Filling out the W-9 form

    Freelancers and independent contractors have to fill out a W-9 for their employers and clients. Here's what to do and how to fill out the form.
  7. Taxes

    Have Household Help? Don't Get In Tax Trouble

    Hiring household workers can be a complicated process. Know what the government requires so you can prevent penalties and problems down the road.
  8. Taxes

    Tax Rules for Resident and Nonresident Aliens

    This article examines the definition and tax treatment of these types of non-U.S. citizens.
  9. Taxes

    It's Tax Season, Are You Prepared?

    It's tax season again. Use these tips to be prepared to file and protect yourself from cybercrime.
  10. Taxes

    Top 6 Reasons You Could Face a Tax Refund Delay

    Several factors could lead to a tax refund delay, such as having errors in your filing or claiming certain credits that are favored by the cheats.
RELATED FAQS
  1. When am I not required to submit a Social Security number on my tax return?

    Exceptions do apply, including the death of a child and a dependent who is a non-resident alien. Read Answer >>
  2. What to bring to a bank to open a checking account

    Want to open a new checking account? Learn which documents to bring to make the process as efficient as you can. Read Answer >>
  3. What are the main methods for calculating business costs?

    See why different economic actors use different methods for calculating costs, and learn how different methods can impact ... Read Answer >>
Trading Center