Can You File Your Taxes In The US Without A Social Security Number?

Can You File Your Taxes In The US Without A Social Security Number?

Can You File Your Taxes In The US Without A Social Security Number?

Citizens of the US use their Social Security Number as identification when it comes to doing their taxes. However, there are a lot of citizens from other places who do not qualify for SSN, yet earn in the country and are liable to pay taxes. If you are one such citizen, you can use the Individual Taxpayer Identification Number or ITIN to file your taxes instead of SSN.

ITIN’s Capabilities

The ITIN is designed only to help citizens without an SSN the capability to file taxes and nothing else. The IRS clarifies that the ITIN cannot be used as:

  • An authorization to work in the US
  • Qualification for SSN or other tax credits such as Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
  • A stimulus to impact your immigration status

Who Needs an ITIN?

Anyone who needs to file their taxes and does not have an SSN can apply for ITIN. If you have a dependent and want to claim them in your tax returns and they do not have an SSN, you would need to get an ITIN for them as well.

As per the IRS, resident and non-resident aliens can get ITIN irrespective of what their immigration status is. An easy way to understand is that you would need an ITIN if you need to file your taxes. This is applicable even if you stay in another country.

How To Apply For ITIN?

Getting your ITIN isn’t all that complicated. To apply for ITIN, you need to submit Form W-7 to the IRS. You can either submit the form by mailing it to the IRS or schedule an appointment if you need any helpwith the forms.

To fill the application form, you would need certain basic details such as name, birthdate and mailing address. You would have to mention your US visa number should you have. Also, the form requires you to mention the reason why you want to apply for ITIN.

Expiry of ITIN

An issued ITIN can expire if it has not been used. If you obtain an ITIN and do not use the same for a period of three years, the ITIN will expire on the 31st of December 2019. ITIN that were issued before the year 2013 would also expire on the 31st of December 2019. The middle digits for the ITIN in such cases would be 83 and 84. For example, you ITIN could look like (9XX-83-XXXX).

Renewal of ITIN

In the event your ITIN expires, you do not have to worry about filing your taxes. You can always renew the ITIN using the following measures. You must fill up Form W-7 along with an application form for ITIN. While you are required to submit the required documents, you do not have to submit a tax return in the case of renewal. Unless there is a filing requirement, you do not have to submit your tax returns. If your family members were issued ITINs, you must submit their W-7 forms at the same time.

The renewal process of ITIN is a bit similar to getting a new one. You can use any of the following methods.

  • Mail the forms to the IRS at:

         Internal Revenue Service

         Austin Service Center

         ITIN Operation

        P.O. Box 149342

        Austin, TX 78714-9342

  • Schedule an appointment with the IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center.
  • Apply for an ITIN in person at any Certifying Acceptance Agent that is authorized by the IRS.

You can file your taxes in the US even if you do not have a Social Security Number. You can apply for ITIN using the methods mentioned above and file your taxes.


How Much To Save Up For Your Retirement In The US?

How Much To Save Up For Your Retirement In The US?

How Much To Save Up For Your Retirement In The US?

A lot of us look up to retirement so that we can hang our boots and finally relax or take a break from all the running around. However, how well your retirement goes depends on a few important factors. The quintessential one being how much you save for your retirement.

Should you plan your retirement well in advance and align your savings and investments accordingly, the chances are high you will have a stress-free retirement phase. To aid you in the entire process of making your retirement a much happier place, here are some tips.

The amount that you need to put away for your retirement depends on the following factors.

  • Your age when you start investing for your retirement.
  • Your paycheck when you decide to save for your retirement.
  • The age at which you wish to retire.
  • The returns that you are expecting on your investments.

There is a simple correlation when it comes to saving for your retirement. When you start saving for your retirement early, you will end up setting aside a smaller chunk of the salary. And the reserve also holds good. The later you start, you must invest a larger chunk of your paycheck towards your retirement.

How Much Is Enough For Retirement?

Your lifestyle plays a crucial role in deciding the amount of money you would need for your retirement. If you wish to retire at 60 years and expect to live for another 30 years, you will need enough money to support you through that entire duration. You should consider the needs along with wants as well. A simple monthly budget will help you understand the amount. But unexpected medical expenses are something that you must also consider.

Estimating Your Requirements

There are several online calculators that you can use to estimate the amount you must set aside for retirement. As a general rule of thumb, when you are 35 years old, you would need to save about 1 to 4 times your annual income for your retirement. Similarly, when you are 50, the savings must be at 5 to 10 times your annual income. You can reach out to a trusted financial advisor if you need details on specifics.

Optimize Your Income Taxes

There are different ways to fund your retirement. Once you start optimizing your income taxes, you will find additional room for savings for retirement. Here are a couple of ways to do the same.

  • Withholdings

A lot of taxpayers withhold a lower amount from their taxes while declaring their W-4 Form. Eventually, the IRS refunds the amount at the end of the tax season. Should you opt to withhold exactly as much taxes as you owe, you will end up with some savings. You can then invest this additional amount into a tax-deferred retirement plan. Thus, do not forget to update your W-4 if there is any change in your filing status, income, employment, etc.

  • Refunds

And should you decide not to alter your withholdings, you can expect a refund from the IRS at the end of the tax season. You can use this refunded amount to fund your retirement. Depending on the amount that you receive, you can either put the entire amount into a tax-deferred investment account or a portion of it. If the refund is a considerable amount, you can opt to use only a portion of it.

Start saving for your retirement at the earliest and you will have to put away a smaller amount every month. This will give you a head start and the possibility of saving a higher amount as well.


How To Account For Your Rental Income In India While Filing Your US Taxes?

How To Account For Your Rental Income In India While Filing Your US Taxes?

How To Account For Your Rental Income In India While Filing Your US Taxes?

It is quite common for NRIs to own one or more houses in India and earn rental income from the same. Also, it can be a bit confusing when it comes to taxation of such income. Since you are staying and filing your taxes in the US, what about the earnings in India? Here is all that you need to know.

Whether To File Taxes or Not?

This question predominantly depends on the residential status of an individual. If a person qualifies as a resident of India, their global income is taxable in India. On the flip side, if they are NRI you are liable to pay taxes only on the income accrued in India.

Income in India can be in the form of salary received for consultation, capital gains made by selling of financial assets, income from rental properties in India, any interest that you earn on your fixed deposits or savings bank. These are some common examples. For any income earned outside India, you do not have to pay taxes in India.

When Should I File Taxes?

Some general rules of income tax apply to all the individuals, whether they are resident Indians or not. According to one such basic rule, anyone with an income exceeding INR 2,50,000 must file their taxes. If your rental income does not exceed INR 2,50,000 there is no need to file your income taxes in India.

Also, NRIs are subject to the same filing deadlines as resident Indians. If you must file your taxes, ensure that you complete them by the 31st of July to avoid any penalties. In the event that your taxes for the year exceed INR 10,000, you must pay advance taxes to the government as well. If you fail to pay advance taxes, you must pay interest on the taxes according to Section 234B and 234C.

Taxation on Rental Income

As far as rental income is concerned, NRIs can earn money from house property or rental payments. And the taxation on them is as follows.

  • House Property

Any income that you accrue from a property in India is taxable. You must pay taxes on the property whether it is rented or lying vacant. As an NRI, you are entitled to a standard deduction of 30%, benefit from interests paid towards a home loan, deduct property taxes that you have paid. NRIs can also claim the interest paid towards the home loan under Section 80C. The laws also allow NRIs to claim registration and stamp duty charges under Section 80C. The taxes are applicable as per the income tax slab for the fiscal year in question.

  • Rental Payment Received

If you have a rental property and are receiving rent for the same, the onus of deducting the TDS is on the tenant. They must deduct 30% of the rent as TDS and deposit the same to the government. This is irrespective of whether you receive the money in your Indian account or the NRI account that you currently hold.


There aren’t too many changes for NRIs when it comes to filing taxes or availing other benefits. NRIs can benefit from deductions under Section 80C. You can claim deductions up to a maximum of INR 1,50,000 under this section. This includes premiums paid towards any life insurance, tuition fees for children, principal paid towards a home loan, an investment that you have made in ELSS (Equity Linked Saving Scheme) or ULIPs (Unit Linked Insurance Plan).

The above is applicable to any rental income that you earn in India while filing your taxes in the USA.


Is lottery/gambling winnings taxed for an NRI in the US?

Is lottery/gambling winnings taxed for an NRI in the US?

Is lottery/gambling winnings taxed for an NRI in the US?

It is hope that gets us to buy another lottery ticket or head out to a casino. The hope that we might win the next lottery or hit the jackpot. If you have won either of them, first of all,congratulations. Before you start planning how to spend the amount, here is something that you must consider, taxes. The winning amount is taxable,but you choose how you wish to get the winning amount.

You can either opt for a lump-sum payout or as an annuity. Taxpayers usually have 60 days to decide the method and it has an impact on the taxes that you must pay to the IRS. If you have not won a lottery or winnings, it still might be a good idea to be aware of the tax implications. Here is all that you need to know.

Lump-Sum or Annuity?

Each method has its pros and cons. Should you opt for the payout as an annuity, you will be placed in a lower tax bracket and a fewer amount of taxes. The only caveat being, the taxes might go up in the future since you do not have any control over it. If the winning is relatively lower, you can opt for the annuity method.

Taxpayers who have won millions, taking the payout as a lump sum is a better option. While it might take a decent chunk of your winnings, you still getthe remaining money at a single shot. If you opt for an annuity, the lottery will pay only 4.5% of the total earnings per year. It will take a long time to recover the entire amount. It is recommended that taxpayers who take the lump sum reach out to a financial advisor to help them with the winnings. Putting the winnings at the right places will ensure you do not spend a lot of it rather earn more from it.

Taxes on Both the Methods

Should you go ahead with a lump sum payout, 25% of the total earning is withheld before making the payment to you. This amount is not the actual taxes that you owe to the government. Once you file Form W-2G, your total liable taxes will be calculated. And you will get to know the total taxes that you owe to the government in April.

And for the annuity method, each installment is taxed as they are handed over to you. Similar to lump sum payout, this is not the actual amount of taxes. Only when you file your Form W-2G, you will get to know the total amount of taxes that you owe to the government.

Depending on the state that you live in, you might have to pay state taxes as well. You must only pay federal taxes and no state taxes if you live in Florida, South Dakota, Texas, Tennessee, Alaska, New Hampshire, California, Nevada, Wyoming, Pennsylvania or Washington.

Minimize Your Tax liabilities

There are a couple of steps that you can take to reduce your tax liability when it comes to earnings from a lottery or gambling. For starters, you can donate some of your earnings to charity. You can then itemize your deductions and reduce your liability.

Alternatively, you can gift a portion of the earning to friends and family. As per the law, you can gift up to $15,000 per person before the gift taxes come into the picture. And lastly, you can create a trust and put your money in it, which will reduce estate taxes should anything happen to you.

Knowing the tax liability for lottery or gambling will ensure that you do not get a surprise in April during the filing of taxes. Being aware will help you better plan your taxes.


Top 10 Tax Refund Takeaways From 2019

Top 10 Tax Refund Takeaways From 2019

Top 10 Tax Refund Takeaways From 2019

As winters approach, taxpayers across the country have even less time to plan for their taxes. In no time Spring will be looming and you do not want to be caught in the crosswinds. This festival season, you can set aside some of your time and plan for your taxes, if you haven’t already done this. It is to ensure that your tax liability is low and that you have a better chance at a higher tax refund. Here are the top 10 takeaways considering the proposed changes in taxes in 2019.

1.401(k) and HSA

You can contribute towards traditional IRAs up to the 15th of April of next year. However, you will miss out on the provisions for 401(k) and Health Savings Account if you do not make any contributions till the 31st of December. Taxpayers can deductions up to $7,000 for contributions towards health insurance plans.

2.Delay Your Mutual Fund Purchase

If you wish to buy mutual funds during this time of the year, you might want to rethink the decision. Especially if you want to hold them in a taxable account. The problem with buying at this time is that you would have to pay taxes on the year end dividends. This is applicable even if you just purchased the shares.

3.Capital Loss Harvesting

Should you own any stocks that are at a loss, you can sell them and deduct up to $3,000 on the federal taxes that you owe. The only thing that you need to be careful about is that you do not violate the wash-sale rule. According to the rule, you cannot purchase the exact same stock or something substantially similar within 30 days of selling the stocks.

4.Opportunity Funds

You have the option to defer paying capital gains tax if you choose to reinvest in Qualified Opportunity Funds. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 brought the Opportunity Funds into existence. The fund aims at creating jobs and opportunities in communities that are distressed.


On reaching the age of 70 ½ years, senior citizens must take minimum distribution if they have 401(k) or IRA. If you do not need the amount for living, you can send it to a charity. Essentially it is a check issued by the IRA to the charity.

6.Traditional To Roth IRA

Any amount that you withdraw on retirement from a traditional IRAs taxable but any distribution from Roth IRA is fax-free. Roth IRAs also do not have minimum requirements, which can be beneficial to reduce your taxes. You can convert your traditional IRA to Roth IRA, but you need to be cognizant of the fact that the converted amount can be taxed.

7.Opt For Capital Gains Tax

If you belong to the 10% or 12% tax bracket, you can consider selling your stocks that are in green. You can sell stocks that have seen significant appreciation as you do not have to pay any capital gain taxes for the mentioned brackets.


You can club your charitable contributions together for more effective tax planning. You can club your contributions for two years and file in a single year. This will allow you to claim itemized deductions for alternate years.

9.Flexible Spending Account

You cannot carry forward any balance that is in a flexible spending account. It might be a good idea to put the amount to use before it expires.

10.Tax Advisor Services

To maximize your tax refunds, reaching out to tax advisor might be a good idea. And the earlier you meet, the better chances you have of getting a good advisor and good refunds.

Knowing the basics of taxation and ways to reduce liability is helpful in the long run and something that all tax payers must be aware of.




When Can I Get A Natural Disaster Tax Deduction?

When Can I Get A Natural Disaster Tax Deduction?

When Can I Get A Natural Disaster Tax Deduction?

Natural disasters can cause and leave behind severe damage, once they are done. Hurricanes in recent times have done a lot of damages for individuals and communities. And the official season for hurricane stars from June to November. Thus, it is important that you prepare for the same even if you stay in an area, that is not known for hurricanes.

In the event that you have incurred some loss from a hurricane or any other natural disaster for that matter, you can write off some damages on your tax returns. This includes disasters such as earthquakes, floods, fire, etc.

How To Prepare For A Natural Disaster?

It is very difficult to prepare yourself for a natural disaster. However, there are a few precautionary steps that you can follow to maximize protection against it.

  • Know the Storm

It is essential that you stay on the top of the storm. Not literally. But being aware of the category, the direction in which it is headed, whether you should vacate your home or not, etc. will be helpful.

  • Create an Emergency Plan

You can start with creating a supplies kit for the disaster. This can contain stuff like any prescribed medications, blankets, flashlights, pillows and any other essentials. As a part of the emergency plan, you can decide on a general meeting place in the event of an emergency.

  • Secure Your Documents

Ensure that all your essential documents are kept in a box that is weatherproof. You can also make a copy of all the documents and keep them in a separate location. Consider creating a digital copy of the second set.

  • Protecting Your Home

You can carry out a few simple steps to reduce the amount of damage caused by a storm. For example, you can install storm shutters or replace your roof or make minor adjustments to protect your house against storms. You can also take pictures of your house so that you have documented how it looked before the damage to show it to the insurance company.

  • Quick check on your finances and insurance

Take a quick look at your emergency fund and decide if it’s enough. If it is not you can set aside anadditional amount till the disaster. You can also check your insurance if it covers natural disasters such as flood fire. If it does not,you can make minor adjustments.

What Disasters Would Qualify For Tax Deduction?

As per the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,you can write off only disasters that have been declared federally.For example, hurricane Harvey in 2017 and the California wildfires were federally declared disasters. If your tax records come under the disaster area as per the federal records,you are eligible for the benefits. As an affected taxpayer you’re eligible for these unique benefits. And it is not limited only to individuals as sole proprietors, business entities and business owners can also benefit from it.

Are There Any Special Rules For The Affected Taxpayers?

Yes. Here are some of the special rules for the affected taxpayers.

  • Access To Retirement Accounts

You can withdraw up to $100,000 from your retirement account to pay for damages.

  • Deductions

In the case of an official disaster, you can deduct $100 from the total damage caused. And then you can deduct up to 10% of your adjusted gross income.

  • Tax Filing Extension

For natural disasters, the government might allow for an extension of the tax filing deadline, beyond the standard 6 months extension.

Natural disasters can be very difficult. With the above, you can reduce your recovery duration by a small margin.