Applying for Naturalization if You Owe Back Taxes

By Alex Oware on 06/24/2015 10:00 PM

Question: I am a US citizen engaged to a Brazilian Citizen; my fiancé has both ITIN and SSN. We’ve worked since 2010 and earned $30k to $80k per year which is always reported on a 1099 as non-employee compensation. Even after the Brazilian fiancé obtained SSN, we continued to use her ITIN so all the income is reported under the ITIN.

Now fiancé want to apply for citizenship but we have to show all taxes are filed and paid. No tax returns have ever been filed under ITIN or SSN.  Should we use SSN or ITIN on the returns?


Answer: The form for applying for citizenship specifically asks if you have any outstanding tax debt owed the government. It has to do with their "good moral character" position. Tax filing status alone would not be only determining factor in whether your fiancé gets rejected for citizenship but it will be a consideration.

Tax returns filed with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number reporting wages paid are required to show the Social Security Number under which the wages were earned. 

In your case your valid SSN should be used as the identifying number at the top of Form 1040.  When inputting W-2 information, the SSN/ITIN should be entered exactly as shown on the Form W-2 or 1099 issued by the employer.

I always advise clients to mail the form 1040 and attach a letter informing IRS about the double identification numbers and request for these two ID’s to be merged.

NOTE: According to this IRS information page, if a primary taxpayer, spouse, or both have ITINs, they are ineligible to receive the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), even if their dependents have valid SSNs.  If the taxpayer and spouse (if filing jointly) have valid SSNs, only dependents with valid SSNs – not ITINs – qualify to receive EITC.

References/Related Topics

What to do with ITIN after receiving SSN

***Disclaimer: I am a tax accountant and a CPA , but I am not your accountant or advocate (Unless you have signed up to my services). This communication is not intended as tax advice, and no tax accountant -client relationship results**