The CARES Act: What Qualifies as a Valid Identification Number?
The “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act” or the “CARES Act” was signed into law by President Trump on March 27, 2020. Among the various provisions that provide US individuals with relief, none are garnering as much attention as the 2020 recovery rebates for individuals (which is described in §2201 of the Act). Eligible individuals will be able to receive up to $1,200 ($2,400 for a married couple) plus an additional $500 per qualifying child [within the meaning of Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) §24(c)].
Among the various eligibility requirements, one of the questions that we have been consistently receiving revolves around Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) and whether or not a nonresident (for US income tax purposes) will qualify for the rebate.
In short, according to the Act and the applicable statutes, all members of the family that are included as part of the US income tax return will need to have a social security number in order to qualify for the rebate. As such, those with an ITIN will most likely not qualify for the rebate.
For the purposes of the rebate, a “valid identification number” means a social security number as described in IRC §24(h)(7). IRC §24(h)(7) provides that a “social security number” means a “social security number issued to an individual by the Social Security Administration, but only if the social security number is issued–
- to a citizen of the United States or pursuant to subclause (I) (or that portion of subclause (III) that relates to Subclause (I) of Section 205(c)(2)(B)(i) of the Social Security Act, and
- before the due date of such return.
Section 205(c)(2)(B)(i) of the Social Security Act (which is codified as 42 U.S.C. §405(c)(2)(B)(i)) provides, in relevant part, that a social security number shall be assigned to “aliens at the time of the lawful admission to the United States either for permanent residence or under other authority of law permitting them to engage in employment in the United States…” Subclause (III) of this Section adds protection for individuals that “…could have but was not assigned an account number under the provisions of Subclause (I)…” For purposes of this section, "other authority" includes, but is not limited to, sections of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) that authorize someone with no legal status to work legally in the United States, including, but not limited to, asylum, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), a U Visa, and adjustment of status applicants who have received their work permit. For a list of additional statuses permitted to be engaged in employment in the US, please visit the USCIS website.
In light of plain language provided by the statutes described above, only those individuals that have a social security number that was issued due to the individual being (a) a citizen of the US or (b) an alien that was issued a social security number upon lawful admission to the US either for permanent residence or another authority of law (as previously discussed) permitting them to work in the US, will have a “valid identification number” for purposes of the rebate under the CARES Act. As such, those with an ITIN will generally not qualify for the rebate.
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