Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number

The following Q&A provides information to taxpayers who need a taxpayer identification number for a child who has been placed in their home pending final adoption.

Q: What is an Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number?

A: An Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number (ATIN) is issued by the Internal Revenue Service as a temporary taxpayer identification number for the child in a domestic adoption where the adopting taxpayers do not have and/or are unable to obtain the child's Social Security Number (SSN). The ATIN is to be used by the adopting taxpayers on their Federal Income Tax return to identify the child while final domestic adoption is pending.

Q: Who needs an ATIN?

A: If you are in the process of adopting a child and are able to claim the child as your dependent or are able to claim a child care credit, you may need an ATIN for your adoptive child.

Q: Why do I need an ATIN?

A: Recent tax law changes require that when you list a person's name on your federal income tax return, you must provide a valid identifying number for that person. During the adoption process, you may not have been able to obtain an existing or a new Social Security Number (SSN) for the child who may already have been placed in your home. If you are eligible to claim the child as your dependent, and you don't have the child's SSN, then you will need to request an ATIN in order to claim the child as a dependent and ( if eligible) to claim the child care credit.

Q: How do I know if I should apply for an ATIN?

A: You should apply for an ATIN only if you are in the process of adopting a child and you meet all of the following qualifications:

  1. The adoption is a domestic adoption.
  2. The child is legally placed in your home for adoption by a authorized adoption agency/agent.
  3. The adoption is not yet final, and you are unable to obtain the child's existing SSN or you are unable to apply for a new SSN for the child pending the finalization of the adoption.
  4. You qualify to claim the child as a dependent.

Q: Can I get an ATIN if I am adopting a child from another country?

A: No. You should apply through the Social Security Administration (SSA) for a valid SSN. When you are adopting a foreign child, upon the child's entry into the United States you should receive enough documentation from the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to satisfy the Social Security Administration's requirements for a SSN.

Q: I meet the requirements to apply for an ATIN. What form do I use to apply?

A: The Form W-7A, Application for Taxpayer Identification Number for Pending Adoptions, is used by qualifying taxpayers to obtain an ATIN. To get Form W-7A, you may go to any IRS walk-in site or call 1-800-829-3676. You may also download the form from the IRS website here in Adobe PDF format.

Q: How long is the ATIN valid?

A: As soon as the adoption becomes final, the adopting parents should obtain an SSN for the child and notify the IRS of the new SSN. When the IRS is notified of a new SSN for the adopted child, it will deactivate the ATIN. If the adopting parents do not notify the IRS within two years, the ATIN will be automatically deactivated.

Next Steps

Contact a qualified attorney specializing in adoptions.

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