Is Social Security Number Important For Tax Filing in the U.S.?
The Social Security Number (SSN) is a unique identification number issued to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and people who have temporary U.S. work permit under section 205(c) (2) of the Social Security Act. The key purpose of SSN is to track their work history and eligibility for specific benefits. However, today, it is used as the de facto identification number for U.S. tax filing and other purposes
So, as the Social Security Administration states, “Your Social Security Number remains and first and continuous link with Social Security.” But the purpose of SSN is not limited to just Social Security. Today, it is used for a variety of purposes like:
- Obtaining a credit
- Getting government benefits
- Buying private insurance
- Opening a USA bank account
- Purchasing a new home or car
However, an SSN is most commonly required to file tax returns in the U.S. Let’s understand in more details.
Who Can Apply for an SSN?
For tax filing in the U.S., you will need to have a valid Social Security Number. Here are the eligibility criterion to apply for the same:
- You must be above 18 years of age
- You must hold U.S. citizenship or permanent residency or a temporary work permit in the country, with a U.S-based mailing address
- You must have a valid Driver’s License or state-issued identity authorization
- You have not applied for a change in your SSN card details
If you are eligible for an SSN, you need to apply for the same. The process to apply for an SSN is simple and you need to follow these steps:
- Fill up the Social Security Card application, Form SS-5
- Attach all original documents as stated by the Social Security Administration
- If you are an immigrant holding an H-1B visa, you will need to submit these additional documents:
- Form I-551 that covers the immigrant visa in a format that is machine-readable
- S. work permit issues by the Department of Homeland Security
- I-94 in addition to the unexpired passport of the candidate
- Once you submit all the documents, get a receipt
Typically, you will get your Social Security Number in 2 to 3 weeks. All documents will be mailed at your U.S. mailing address.
Do You Need to Have an SSN to File for Tax?
Yes. When you file for an income tax return, the IRS will use the SSN to ensure that the income you report in the form matches the income your employer or financial institutions have reporting paying you. Additionally, you will also need the SSN of your child if you want to claim the child as a dependent when filing a tax return.
Therefore, it is important that you get your SSN before you can apply for tax returns.
How to Correct Your Tax Return If You Provide a Wrong SSN?
If it happens that you mention your SSN incorrectly, then you will need to apply for an amended income tax return. In such cases, you should use Form 1040X, available on IRS’s website. In Part III of this form, give a valid reason as to why you are filing an amended tax return. Before you submit, you can provide the right Social Security Number on the top of the form.
In case you provide the dependent’s SSN incorrectly, you have to provide the right number in line 29. You need to file the form separately every tax year, but at the same time, the process gets simpler. Simply provide the correct number in the form and furnish the reason behind it in the third part as discussed above.
While earlier the scope of Social Security Number was limited, it has now become a unique identification number that is used for a wide range of purposes. Hence, SSNs are required by U.S. citizens, immigrants as well as non-immigrants to file their tax returns. But at the same time, you should understand the difference between SSN, EIN, and ITIN – all three of which are unique taxpayer identification numbers for businesses.
Working with an expert law firm can help you understand the differences, get your SSN, and apply for tax returns.
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