By Lindsay Wong, 2018 Get It Back Campaign Intern
If you are a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipient or a non-citizen US resident, and have earnings from work, you may be required to file a tax return and pay taxes on your earnings. However, recent changes to DACA and tax filing can be confusing. Whether you have a Social Security Number (SSN) or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), here are some things you should know about filing taxes this year.
Anyone who has been issued a SSN, must file taxes with this number. Your SSN is valid indefinitely and any previous tax identification number is no longer active.
For DACA recipients, even if your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from the Department of Homeland Security has expired, you should continue to file taxes with your SSN.
To claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) you must file your taxes with a valid work-authorized SSN and meet the eligibility requirements. You may also claim the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and other tax credits if you meet the eligibility rules.
If you were unable to renew your DACA status and have lost work authorization, you are ineligible to claim the EITC. Your SSN must be valid for employment at the time of tax filing to obtain the EITC. However, you remain eligible to claim the CTC and education tax credits if you qualify.
ITINs are issued to individuals who are required to have a U.S. taxpayer identification number but who do not have, and are not eligible for, a SSN. If you haven’t filed a tax return in the past 3 years, or the middle digits of your ITIN are 70, 71, 72, 78, 79 or 80 (Ex. 123-70-6789), your ITIN has expired. If you file a tax return using an expired ITIN, the IRS will not approve any refunds you qualify for until it is renewed. ITIN holders are not eligible to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). You may qualify for the CTC and other credits.
DACA recipients who previously used an ITIN to file tax returns should use the SSN they received after DACA approval.
You do not need to renew your ITIN if:
- The middle digits are outside the numbers listed above.
- You are not required to file a tax return.
ITIN expiration does not affect bank accounts, mortgages, loans, driver’s licenses or health records.
Filing taxes can strengthen your application for an adjustment in residency status by demonstrating work history, physical presence, and positive moral character. If you are required to file a tax return, renew an expired ITIN before filing your return. You can also apply for renewal during tax filing, but this will take several weeks and delay any credits you have claimed.
If your ITIN has expired, you need to submit the IRS Form W-7 to renew it. Be sure to check the “renew existing ITIN” box on the form so that it will not go in as a new application. There are three ways to complete the ITIN renewal process:
- Mail Form W-7 to the IRS along with the original identification documents required in the W-7 Instructions.
- Visit your nearby IRS-authorized Certified Acceptance Agent (CAA). These offices can assist with the application, and verify key documents so originals don’t have to be mailed. Some CAAs are located at Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites.
- Schedule an appointment at your local IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC). These IRS offices offer the same help as CAAs. Unlike CAAs, some TACs are in federal buildings, which may also house ICE or Homeland Security offices. Federal building security officers may check your identification before allowing you to enter. IRS security officers do not check for citizenship documentation.
By law, the IRS currently guarantees the confidentiality of your tax data. Information on tax forms and supporting documents is not shared with any other agency or person, including government agencies such as ICE and Homeland Security, except in criminal or terrorist investigations.
While there are several organizations working to protect the DACA program, modification to DACA, ITINs, and tax filing can take place at any time. Look out for updates. If you have specific questions about a personal tax situation, contact your local Low Income Taxpayer Clinic or Legal Aid organization.