I don't have a Social Security Number. Can I file without one? What about with an IRSN?

Get started on tax returns while waiting for SSN

In most cases, you should apply for a Social Security Number ASAP. If you are a U.S. citizen but were never issued (or no longer have) a Social Security Number, you may apply for or obtain a replacement SS Card on the Social Security Administration’s website. If you were issued a Social Security number at birth, the U.S. Social Security Administration will restore your number using your birth certificate at your request.

While your request is being processed (it may take a few months), you should work with us to prepare your return. Then once you receive your Social Security Number, we will be able to add it to the prepared returns quickly instead of starting the whole process from scratch. This method is generally more efficient than doing one process at a time.

How to obtain a Social Security Number

  1. Fill out an application for a Social Security card.
  2. Visit the Social Security Administration website to find out where you can apply for a SSN in person.

You can generally apply in person at the U.S. consulate in your resident country. Make sure to complete the application before your trip to the consulate, this way you will know exactly which documents you’re required to present along with the application so that everything can be processed on the first attempt (and you avoid having to make a second trip to the consulate).

What about with an Internal Revenue Service Number (IRSN)?

A Key point:  you are ineligible for penalty waivers if you use IRSN to apply for the Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures. You need a Social Security Number in order to receive amnesty protection.

IRSNs were designed for IRS convenience. It is an extremely unfriendly option for the taxpayer.

An IRSN is a nine-digit number issued by the IRS to people who file a return or make a payment without providing a TIN. You might’ve been issued this number if you filed a U.S. federal tax return and didn’t have an SSN. Your IRSN will appear on any correspondence the IRS might have sent you concerning that return.

According to the information on the IRS website, if you make a submission to one of the Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures without a valid SSN, then the IRS may assign you an IRSN (See IRMs 3.13.5.70 and 3.13.5.71). But taxpayers that make submissions to the Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures without valid SSNs are not eligible for the favorable penalty provisions of the Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures. The IRS will process such returns as subject to penalties applicable outside of the Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures.

The purpose of this number is to identify the taxpayer who filed and/or paid yet did not provide a valid TIN. It does not allow you to receive any of the benefits of the Streamlined Procedure and is only used for correspondence and the recording of payments. The agency is happy to receive payments, but those payments must linked to an  account. The IRSN serves as an identifier in their database.

FBARs can be e-filed after an IRSN is issued without amnesty protection. In general, we will only resort to filing without a Social Security Number and waiting for IRSN if a foreign bank has seized the client's assets and the taxpayer is forced to file immediately. Otherwise, waiting to receive a Social Security Number is a better option.

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