How to File Income Taxes in California with an ITIN

Last updated on June 19th, 2024 at 11:39 pm

ITIN stands for Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, which is a number issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to those who need to report their income on their tax returns.

If you’re not eligible to receive a Social Security Number (SSN) from the Social Security Administration, an ITIN is issued in its place, allowing you to file your taxes.

At Remitly, we’re here to provide you with everything you need to know about filing taxes in California with an ITIN.

How to file your California taxes with an ITIN number

When you file California state taxes, complete the CA Form 540 and include your ITIN in the box where it asks for your “SSN or ITIN.”

You may apply for an ITIN via several methods, including completing Form W-7 or the Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). Fill out the form on the IRS website and mail it to the provided address. Once you complete the form, submit it with the required documentation and your annual income tax return.

California residents may also schedule an in-person appointment with an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center near you. You can also contact an IRS-authorized Certifying Acceptance Agent, an individual or entity authorized by the IRS, to help immigrants obtain their ITIN. These two options prevent you from having to mail your proof of identification and foreign status documents with your return.

Here are some tips to help you file your California taxes with an ITIN number:

  • Enter your ITIN number anywhere it asks for an “SSN or ITIN.”
  • Gather your W-2, 1099, and any other forms you’ve received that show the amount of income you’ve earned for the year.
  • Have a photo ID for yourself and your spouse (if applicable) and a copy of your prior year’s tax return if you filed.
  • Enter your bank account and routing number to receive your refund via direct deposit.

Who has to file state income tax in California?

  • Every adult who lived and worked in the state for all or part of the year and were required to file a federal tax return
  • Anyone who received any income from a source in California or who had income above a certain threshold

Filing options in California

Determine whether you prefer to file your California taxes online or on paper. You can file them online directly with CalFile, free of charge, or you may use a tax service like H&R Block. If you’re expecting a refund, filing online is the fastest way to receive it.

If you need help filing your California state taxes, contact an experienced tax expert for guidance. Check the State of California Franchise Tax Board website for more information.

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Eligibility requirements for getting an ITIN

Both resident and non-resident immigrants are eligible to receive an ITIN, regardless of their immigration status. It typically takes up to seven weeks to receive your ITIN from the IRS after you apply.

Here are some examples of the eligibility criteria for obtaining an ITIN:

  • You are a foreign national legally living in the United States who is filing a U.S. federal income tax return.
  • You are an immigrant student, professor, or researcher living in the United States but don’t qualify for an SSN.
  • You’re a dependent or spouse of a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident who needs to file a tax return, or you’re a dependent or spouse of a foreign national living on a temporary visa.
  • You are a nonresident immigrant who is claiming a tax treaty benefit.

The benefits of obtaining an ITIN

Getting an ITIN does not automatically provide legal immigration status, and you can’t use it to prove you have a legal presence in the United States. It also doesn’t provide work authorization and is not used to prove work authorization on an I-9 form.

However, obtaining an ITIN allows you to file and/or pay your taxes without needing a Social Security Number. According to the IRS, 4.4 million ITIN filers paid over $23.6 billion in total taxes in 2015 alone. While you won’t be eligible to receive all of the tax and public benefits that U.S. citizens and other taxpayers get, you may be able to use the earnings you reported with your ITIN to count toward future benefits once you’re eligible for an SSN.

ITIN holders in California are eligible for the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) and the Young Child Tax Credit (YCTC). Eligible tax filers can receive a certain dollar amount for the CalEITC, depending on their income and family size. You may also receive a separate dollar amount for the YCTC if you’re eligible for the CalEITC and have at least one child who is five years old or younger.

If you have a child with a valid SSN, you may also claim the federal Child Tax Credit (CTC) until 2025. If you did not include your ITIN on a U.S. federal tax return at least once for three tax years in a row, it expires on December 31 of the third consecutive tax year. For example, if you did not use your ITIN for the three tax years of 2020, 2021, and 2022, your ITIN would expire on December 31, 2023.

The IRS issues ITINs so that people can comply with U.S. tax laws. In addition to being able to file your state and federal income tax returns, there are some other benefits to obtaining an ITIN, including:

  • Some banks will let you use an ITIN instead of an SSN to open a personal checking or savings account. This provides a safe and reliable place to keep your money while you’re in the United States.
  • Once you have a bank account, you can start building your credit, which may make you eligible to receive a credit card, buy a home, or borrow money.
  • If you have an ITIN and need to purchase health insurance for your U.S.-born children through the Health Insurance Marketplace, you might be eligible for the Premium Tax Credit, or PTC. This credit may help lower the insurance cost, but you must file your taxes using the ITIN to receive it.
  • Getting your ITIN allows you to conduct business and pay business taxes in the United States as a foreign national.
  • Some states accept ITINs as proof of identification if you need a state-issued ID. This form of identification can help expand your travel options, allow you to pass through the TSA at airports, and may make you eligible to apply for a driver’s license.

Important 2024 tax deadlines for California residents

The final due date to file your California state tax return and pay any outstanding balance is April 15, 2024. However, California grants filers an extension automatically until October 15, 2024, and you don’t need to apply for the extension to qualify.

If you owe a balance after you file your taxes, the payment is still due in full by April 15, 2024. You can pay it quickly online using the state’s Web Pay system. Those outside the U.S. automatically qualify for a two-month extension until June 15, 2024. If you receive an extension, the last date to send in your mailed tax form is October 15, 2024.

More tax resources in California

Here are some more tax resources for ITIN holders in the state of California: