How to fill out a W-7 form
Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)

Guero's Fast Refund 11110 Kirwin Ln., Houston, TX 77041-5413 Tel: 917-732-1272

Before filling out the form
Why extra care must be taken in preparing W7s
Why W7s are taking so long to process

Downloading the W-7 fill-in forms from the IRS web site


What documents are commonly used as supporting evidence for the W7.

A diagram of the W7 form
Instructions for filling out each section

Make certified copies of supporting documentation.

Mail package to the IRS.

My name is Rick Byrne, and I am a tax preparer in Houston, Texas.  As a large segment of my business involves serving the immigrant population, the situation often arises when a person does not have a social security number.  Although he doesn't have an SSN he may still wish to file a tax return in order to receive the refund to which he's entitled.  Also he may need to file a tax return for the purposes of demonstrating to the immigration service that he is a productive member of society.

Since the unpleasantness of September 11th, 2001 I've observed an increase in the scrutiny that the IRS gives to ITIN applications.  In my opinion the reasons for this are as follows: 1) the government wants to investigate if the applicant is wanted in connection with any criminal acts, 2) tax changes starting with the 2001 tax year allow ITIN holders to receive a refund in excess of their federal income tax withheld, therefore dramatically increasing the outflows to these individuals, and 3) demand for ITINs is up due to the tax law change mentioned in # 2, above.

Because of these factors it is taking much longer for clients to receive their ITIN numbers.  Also, the IRS is very selective about what supporting evidence they will accept before issuing the ITIN.  For these reasons it behooves us to prepare the forms to best fulfill the IRS' requirements and to take whatever steps we can to expedite the processing of the form.

The information contained on this page is knowledge I have gleaned from numerous trips to the local IRS office and discussions with IRS employees.  In some areas the W7's instructions are not clear, or may conflict with what the IRS staff actually wants to see.

Step # 1: Download the W7 fill-in forms from the IRS' web site.

My handwriting is lousy.  Perhaps worse than my handwriting is that I'm constantly making mistakes and scratching out what I've written.  The IRS staff will take your applications more seriously when they see that they've been professionally prepared.

Acquire a full version of Adobe Acrobat, not just the reader.  The full version will allow you to save the forms with the clients' information.  This will save time in case you have to make some minor changes to a W7.

Use the English version of the form for all your clients.  By submitting the English form all correspondence about the application will be in English.  I prefer the English version because it has more space to enter data on line 6d.

Step # 2: Assemble the required documentation and evidence

Have your clients bring you the original documents listed below.  Since you're going to be bringing them to the IRS office yourself, there is little risk of them getting lost. 

Although there may be additional documents that the IRS deems acceptable, this list is what is most commonly available and most readily accepted by the IRS.  TWO forms of ID are needed for each person.

For children:

bulletbirth certificate
bulletvaccination record: This document is only accepted if it shows activity within
the last year
bulletIf vaccination document is not current: a letter from the child's school indicating they
are a current student, etc.  In Mexico this is called a constancia de la escuela.  The
IRS may accept the document if it is dated within the last year, but IRS staff prefer
that it come from the current school semester.
bulletIf neither the vaccination record or enrollment record are available, a school grade
report is accepted.  Again it needs to be issued within the last year, but preferably
from the current semester.

For adults:

bulletbirth certificate
bulletUnited States driver's license or identification card
bulletMexico voter identification card
bulletMexico consular identification card

Step # 3: Filling out the W-7 form

Section 1:

If the applicant has been in the U.S. for less than 180 days, choose option b.

If the applicant is an adult and has been in the U.S. for more than 180 days, choose option c. Most applicants will fall into this category.

Options d and e: choose the appropriate option and write the primary taxpayer's name and SSN / ITIN in the space provided. If the taxpayer does not have a SSN or ITIN, because they're applying for their own ITIN at the same time, write their name and "ITIN applied for concurrently."

Section 2: Put the address where the applicant wishes to have his correspondence mailed.  If the taxpayer is planning on moving in the near future put your office address, or a friend or relative's address.  Take a moment to verity the address with the USPS web site.  You can put a foreign address here, but don't say you weren't warned.

Section 3: If the person is physically outside the U.S., put the actual, physical address where the person lives.  If the person is living in the U.S., put "relocated to United States" on the first line, and the name of the foreign country where he last resided on the second line. 

Sections 4-5: Complete as indicated.

Section 6 a-c: Complete box 6a.  If applicable, fill out boxes 6b and 6c.  If not applicable write N/A or none.

Section 6 b: Fill out this information.  What doesn't fit on the computer write in manually.  The IRS examiner will verify this section with information from the supporting evidence.

Section 6 e: Most applicants will choose no.

Section 6 f-g: These fields will not apply to most applicants.  Write N/A or none in these boxes.

Signature area: If the applicant is 14 years of age or older, he must sign the form himself.  If the subject is less than 14 years of age a parent or guardian must sign.  If someone other than the applicant is signing (i.e. a parent or guardian), type the signer's name in the Name of Delegate field.  If the signer is the applicant's parent, indicate as such.  Do not check the box for court-appointed guardian unless you are also submitting court documents indicating as such.

Step # 4: Make notarized copies of the clients' supporting documents.

The pamphlet that they give you when you become a notary contains the verbiage for certified copies.

For easily replaceable documents, like the constancia, I just go ahead and mail the original.

Also, I've begun scanning the supporting documentation and storing it on my server.  This way if another copy is ever needed, I don't have to bother the client to bring to to me again.

Step # 5: Mail the 1040(s), W7s, and supporting documents to the IRS.

I previously recommended bringing the documents personally to the IRS office.  That worked well under the old system (pre-December 2003).  However, as my schedule is busier this year, I don't have time to go to the IRS office every week.

But if it works with your schedule, I recommend paying a visit to your local IRS office at least once.  You may receive valuable guidance on preparing the W7s.

I find that Priority Mail from the US Postal Service is the best overall compromise between cost, speed, and convenience.  If you buy the shipping label through the USPS web site you'll get delivery confirmation at no charge.  Scan or file the receipt so you have a record of the tracking number and when it was sent. 

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Last modified by: DP35DP\Don Guero
Tuesday September 24, 2013 08:59:20 PM


Last modified: Tuesday, June 21, 2011