Ask AF: Filing Taxes Without an SSN

If your child doesn't yet have a social security number, will you be able to file taxes? Our adoption law expert answers.

Q: We are adopting domestically, and have been told that our adoption might not be finalized by the end of the year. If our child doesn’t have a social security number, what do we use to file taxes?


A: The IRS can issue you an Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number (ATIN). This temporary nine-digit number is designed for families in your situation — new parents, in the process of adopting, within the U.S. or internationally, who cannot get a social security number for their child in time to file their taxes. Request an ATIN through Form W-7A, which you can download at

Along with the form, you’ll need documentation describing how your child was placed with you for adoption. (Note that it can take up to eight weeks to receive an ATIN.) An ATIN is valid for two years, and can be used to claim the dependency exemption, the child and dependency care expenses credit, the adoption tax credit, and the child tax credit.

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