I lived in the US (New York) for 6 years and paid state and federal taxes. This was over 10 years ago. I now need my Social Security Number (SSN) and my Tax Identification Number (TIN) to apply for a US visa. I kept my social security card in my wallet, so that's done, but I cannot my TIN. My tax returns, after 10 years, got lost between moves and hard drives.

I found this reference about social security numbers having precedence over ITINs, individual taxpayer identification numbers:

An ITIN, or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, is a tax processing number only available for certain nonresident and resident aliens, their spouses, and dependents who cannot get a Social Security Number (SSN). It is a 9-digit number, beginning with the number "9", formatted like an SSN (NNN-NN-NNNN).

But I believe that I filed tax returns using a TIN, not an ITIN, because I had W-2 statements.

Do Taxpayer Identification Numbers expire after a number of years? If not, how can I find, from the IRS or another service, the TIN from the social security number?

  • 3
    What does "I could find my social security number from my card, but I cannot find any records of it" mean? If you have a social security card with a social security number, you would have used that to file taxes. What records are you looking for? Commented Jun 27 at 21:43
  • 1
    @emonigma If you had an employment authorization you'd be eligible (and required) to use SSN as your TIN. If you worked illegally and weren't eligible for SSN, then no-one knows what your TIN was at the time and it doesn't matter. Why do you need it now, anyway?
    – littleadv
    Commented Jun 27 at 22:12
  • 1
    @emonigma - Depending on what problem you are trying to solve, you can request a tax transcript from the IRS or view your earnings history on the Social Security site. Commented Jun 27 at 22:41
  • 1
    @JustinCave both would require knowing the TIN, which the OP seems to not have right now....
    – littleadv
    Commented Jun 27 at 23:59
  • 1
    @littleadv - It appears that the OP has his social security card with his social security number but not his tax returns. So I'm guessing the records he's looking for would either be the tax transcripts from the IRS or the earnings history from SSA. Either should be available with the SSN he has. Commented Jun 28 at 2:10

2 Answers 2


If you had an employment authorization you'd be eligible (and required) to use SSN as your TIN.

If you have an SSN now then that is your TIN (tax identification number). If you have an SSN you're required to use it as TIN for individual tax reporting and withholding purposes. If you had ITIN 10 years ago, it's expired by now.

Several types of TINs exist in the US, as mentioned in the comments:

  • SSN - Social Security Number, required to be used by everyone who has it for income and FICA tax reporting and withholding.
  • EIN - Employer Identification Number, used by entities (non-individuals) for all Federal tax purposes, and by individuals for business purposes (especially when it comes to having employees).
  • ITIN - International Taxpayer Identification Number, used by US non-residents or foreigners who are tax residents but are not eligible for SSN. Expires periodically if not renewed.
  • ATIN - Adoption TIN, used for adoption until the adopted child is eligible for SSN.
  • PTIN - Preparer TIN, used to identify professional tax preparers.
  • I registered for ID.me with my SSN and signed in to my account at the IRS. But the files show my SSN as my TIN, along with an address I had after leaving the US, so I'm positive that the SSN is my TIN.
    – emonigma
    Commented Jun 28 at 20:57

Normally, unless you are a business or have raised an identity theft complaint, your individual TIN is your SSN.

Which is not great in these days of large databases being broken into, but back in the days when punchcard sorting was still a major database manipulation tool it seemed convenient to use the number already assigned to each individual, and no politician wants to be the one signing the bill (legal or financial) to improve it.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .