W-7A: Application for Taxpayer Identification Number for Pending US Adoptions

The W-7A form is an official document used by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for adoptive parents in the United States to apply for an Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number (ATIN) for their adopted child. This temporary nine-digit number acts as a substitute for a Social Security Number (SSN) until the adoption is finalized, allowing you to claim your adopted child as a dependent on your tax return.

Who Should Use Form W-7A?

  • You are expecting to adopt a child, but the adoption won't be finalized by the time you file your tax return.
  • You need to claim the child as a dependent to qualify for certain tax benefits.
  • The child is a U.S. citizen or resident alien.

Who Should Not Use Form W-7A?

  • You expect to obtain a Social Security Number (SSN) for the child before filing your tax return.
  • The child is not a U.S. citizen or resident alien (use Form W-7 in this case).
  • You are applying for an ATIN for a foster child, even if you intend to adopt them (you should be able to get their SSN from the foster care agency).

What You Can Do With an ATIN?

  • Claim the child as a dependent on your tax return if they meet the dependency tests.
  • Claim the child tax credit (but not the Earned Income Credit).
  • File an amended tax return for a previous year if you couldn't claim the child tax credit because they lacked an SSN.

Required Documentation:

Attach one of the following documents signed and dated to your Form W-7A:

  • A copy of the placement agreement between you and an authorized placement agency regarding the child.
  • A copy of the document signed by a hospital official authorizing the release of a newborn child for legal adoption to you.
  • A copy of the court order approving the placement of the prospective adoptive child.
  • An affidavit signed by the adoption attorney or government official who placed the child with you for legal adoption, following state law (for foreign adoptions).

How to File Form W-7A?

  • You can download Form W-7A and its instructions attached below. 
  • Mail the completed form and supporting documentation to the address listed in the instructions.
  • Processing typically takes about four weeks. The IRS will mail you the ATIN via U.S. mail.

How long is an ATIN valid?

An ATIN expires two years from the date it's issued. However, the IRS will send you a reminder six months before expiration with instructions for applying for an extension if the adoption isn't finalized.

What happens when the adoption is finalized?

Once the adoption is finalized and the child receives an SSN, you should stop using the ATIN and use the SSN on future tax returns.

Can I use an ATIN for anything else?

No. An ATIN is solely for claiming a child as a dependent on your tax return.

What if the Social Security Administration (SSA) denies my application for a child's SSN?

Contact the IRS to request an extension or reactivation of the ATIN. Include the SSA's denial letter or an explanation with your correspondence.