As experienced IRS, Approved Certified Acceptance Agent (C.A.A.), and US Personal tax preparers/Consultants, we come across these questions all the time.
1. I’m a US Citizen/Resident Alien married to a foreign national (i.e., British national spouse). Can I apply for ITIN for my spouse (Foreign national with no US Visa or prior USA visit anytime) by filing a 1040 tax return with the filing status Married Filing Jointly/Separate (MFJ/MFS)?
Yes, if you are legally married as of 31st December for the tax year of Filing, then you are eligible to file MFJ/MFS even if your spouse does not have US Visa, never visited the USA. Please note, It’s only for the dependent child/other dependents ITIN application process requires (US Visa, date of entry to the USA, 183 days stay(I-94 records), and proof of residences like US Medical records or school records is required).
For spouse ITIN the main supporting document in addition to passport copy is the 1040 tax return copy with original signatures and dates [This tax return can be of any year it’s not necessary to be the 2021 tax year.
2. To file an ITIN application for my spouse. On my 1040 tax return filing status, Do you need to file married filing jointly(MFJ) mandatorily or do I have an option to file Married Filing Separate (MFS.)
It’s not necessary who have to file Married Filing Jointly(MFJ.) ONLY. You can also file as Married Filing Separately (MFS). However, we have few occasions with ITIN rejection for MFS status from 2018 as there are no tax exemptions benefits with MFS status since the 2018 tax year.
Reasons many of our clients choose to file Married Filing Jointly (MFJ) from 2018 tax year onwards is listed below:
- a) From 2018 to 2025, the tax rules changed with no personal exemption of $4,050 available for the taxpayer or the spouse (The personal exemption was available until 2017 tax year), so by filing Married Filing Separately(MFS) or Single your final tax due on the 1040 return would be same.
- b) From 2018, with new tax rules, the standard deductions for the Married Filing jointly (MFJ) increased from $12,550 to $25,100, giving an additional deduction of $12,550 from your gross income, resulting in a reduction in taxes due or increase in refund on computation.
- c) Married Filing Jointly (MFJ) status is also beneficial to foreign nationals spouse who has no income in the USA or a foreign country. Even if the foreign national spouse is working outside of the USA, then he/she is eligible to claim foreign earned income exclusion of $108,700 per person [For 2021 tax year] and eligible to claim Foreign tax credits (FTC) for taxes paid in a foreign country.
Married Filing Jointly (MFJ) requires a joint election filing of IRC section 6013(g) to be elected, treating a nonresident alien spouse as US resident alien and subject to worldwide income reporting and Foreign Bank Account Reporting. The 6013(g) is a revocable election, so if the foreign national spouse does not wish to file 1040 US tax returns jointly in future tax years, he or she can revoke the election and opt-out of the US tax system for any particular tax year or future tax years.
Your CPA with US expatriate tax and international tax experience should be in a position to determine the best filing status option based on the source of income and having the numbers run on tax software.
3. I cannot E-file my US tax return via turbo tax; my CPA says I need to get my ITIN first for my spouse to file my US tax return electronically
Kindly note, For the first year of US tax filing with MFS or MFJ filing status along with spouse ITIN application, you cannot file electronically via turbo tax or any US tax software; the 1040 tax return filing and Form W7 will be sent to IRS ITIN office via Postal filing ONLY (As far as you have postal proof of mailing on or before the due date or extended due date) it’s considered the tax return was filed on time. If the tax return is on Zero taxes due or refund position, you need not worry about the tax filing deadline date.
4. What is the process for the first year when the ITIN application is in the process?
For the first year of the US Citizen application ITIN application process, you cannot e-file via turbo tax or any other US tax software. So The 1040 tax return (with MFJ or MFS filing status) with your spouse’s name on the tax return and on the SSN column, write Form W7 Enclosed. Next step, the 1040 tax return and Form W7 with all certified passport copy by CAA, by the CAA., taxpayer, or the CPA to the ITIN operation department, wherein the ITIN (Tax ID) to be allocated to your foreign national spouse and also the 1040 tax return to be processed
4. I’m legally married, but I filed my US taxes electronically via turbo tax as single to meet my tax return filing deadline of 15th April because I do not have a tax ID for my spouse to file MFS or MFJ?. How do I get a tax ID for my spouse now?
Please note, if you are legally married as of 31st December, then you cannot file the tax return filing status is Single. Your filing status on 1040 should be MFS or MFJ. Suppose you already filed the tax return as single (electronically just to meet the tax filing deadline date). In that case, we need to amend a tax return (prepare 1040X) with MFS or MFS status and paper file the 1040X tax return with Form W7 ITIN application.
5. My spouse had an ITIN previously with which I filed my 1040 tax return with MFS/MFJ status. However, IRS sent me to notice that her ITIN is expired, and the number needs renewal first, further to process my 1040 tax return and the refund. What do I do now?
If the tax return was processed as filed previously via postal paper filing or with old ITIN and rejected/notice received from IRS (for ITIN not valid/renewed on time). A new ITIN application with 1040 tax return ” WRITE COPY ONLY FOR FORM W7 DO NOT PROCESS AGAIN” on top of the 1040 tax return, so IRS knows the 1040 tax return is sent only for the ITIN supporting document.
6. My CPA asked me to get ITIN to file my tax return electronically; he has filed an extension for me until 15th October. Can you ONLY certify the passport and get an ITIN for my spouse? Is having the 1040 tax ready before making the ITIN application mandatory?.
Yes, Sending the Signed 1040 US tax return with Married Filing Jointly(MFJ) with both signatures or Married Filing Separately (MFS) filing with US citizen/resident taxpayers’ wet signature and with the Form W7 (with passport certification) is mandatory. If not, the ITIN application will get rejected
You have two options:
Option 1 – ONLY ITIN SERVICE FROM OUR TEAM
Your CPA can prepare the 1040 tax return with ITIN Applied for box checked on US tax software.
If self-prepared via Turbo tax, you can (generate a 1040 tax return PDF, with nine digits number input for your spouse SSN, for example, 123-45-6789 or 999-99-9999 for the ITIN applicant)
When your 1040 tax return is ready, Our team can assist with ITIN application completion and help to mail the 1040 tax return to the IRS along with the ITIN application.
Option 2 – ITIN AND TAX RETURN SERVICE FROM OUR TEAM
If your CPA has not prepared the 1040/1040X tax return, we can assist with the preparation ( additional fee for the US Federal and State tax return applies based on the complexity of work involved).
The taxpayer and the spouse need to sign on the 1040 tax return original ink (electronic signature not acceptable by IRS).
Our team can assist with ITIN application completion and help mail 1040/1040X tax returns to the IRS along with the ITIN application.
We are one of the IRS Enrolled Agents with many years of experience in US 1040/1040NR personal tax compliance reporting and Fatca Compliance FBAR Reporting, We are happy to assist our clients in a timely, efficient, and cost-effective way.