Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)
To file tax forms and claim treaty benefits, the IRS requires a nonresident alien to have either a Social Security Number (“SSN”) or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (“ITIN”).
These are not the same as a national ID number. SSNs and ITINs do not represent permission to work and are not proof of U.S. citizenship or Lawful Permanent Residence.
It is important to keep your SSN or ITIN confidential to protect your identity. Tax-related identity theft occurs when someone uses your stolen SSN or ITIN to file a fraudulent tax return in your name and claim a refund. Visit the IRS website to learn more about tax-related identity theft.
Social Security Numbers
A Social Security number (SSN) is a taxpayer identification number issued by the Social Security Administration. Individuals who are employed in the U.S. must have a Social Security number to file an income tax return. Your Social Security number does not expire. If you leave the U.S. and return at a later time, you do not have to reapply.
In order to receive a SSN, you must apply in person at a local office of the Social Security Administration. You will need to complete an application for a Social Security card (Form SS-5) and provide certain documentation proving your immigration status, work eligibility, age, and identity.
Refer to the Social Security Administration website and publication to find more information about applying for an SSN. Follow these links for:
specific information on the SSN process for MIT international students
specific information on the SSN process for MIT international scholars
It can take several weeks from the date of application for the Social Security card to be mailed to you. Please report your Social Security number to VPF HR/Payroll as soon as you receive it, by calling the HR/Payroll team at 617-253-4255.
Individual Taxpayer ID Number (ITIN)
An Individual Taxpayer ID Number (ITIN) may be required for individuals who do not have employment authorization and are not eligible for an SSN. ITINs are issued only for the purpose of federal tax reporting. Nonresidents filing an income tax return (e.g. 1040NR, 1040NR-EZ) may need an ITIN.
An ITIN is not required to complete a Form 8843.
An ITIN does not entitle the recipient to Social Security benefits, indicate immigration status, or guarantee/certify the right to work in the U.S.
In order to receive an ITIN you must complete Form W-7 (Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) with the IRS. Visit the IRS website to learn more about ITINs.
The tax preparation software (Sprintax) provided for international scholars will automatically generate Form W-7 for nonresident aliens who require ITINs for their dependents in order to claim them on their tax returns.
Once you have completed the documents, you can make an appointment at the IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center to submit your application along with your proof of identity and foreign status documents.
The content in this website is provided for informational purposes only. MIT does not offer legal, accounting, or tax advice and services. This information should not be used as a substitute for consultation with a professional accounting, tax, or legal advisor. MIT recommends that students consult a tax advisor for individual tax advice.