Aside from the joys of parenthood, one of the perks of having a child is that you get a tax break when you claim him as a dependent. To claim this deduction, your child needs to have either a Social Security number or a Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. If he doesn't have either of these by the time April 15 rolls around, you can file an extension while you wait for the application to process.
New Infants and Social Security Numbers
If you have an infant, it's possible that he doesn't have a Social Security number yet. To get him a Social Security number, you need to complete an Social Security application form. When your child is born, the hospital can provide you with a birth registration form that you can complete while the mother is a patient. If you weren't able to get a birth registration form at the hospital, you can obtain Form SS-5, Application for Social Security Number, from the Social Security website or a local Social Security office.
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According to Nolo, it normally takes from six to 12 weeks to receive your child's Social Security card. The process may take a little longer if the child is more than one year old. If you don't have the card by April 15, Forbes contributor Kelly Phillips recommends that you file for a six month tax extension. If you don't get a Social Security number by the extension due date, you'll need to file a tax return if you want to avoid late fees and penalties. Although you won't be able to claim your child as a dependent without the Social Security number, you can amend the return and claim the deduction once that information finally arrives.
Adopting a Non-Citizen Child
If you're in the process of adopting a child and he's not yet a legal citizen, you won't be able to get a Social Security number for him. However, you can get an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, which allows you to claim him as a dependent. Once your child becomes a legal citizen or resident, you can apply for a Social Security number. To obtain an ATIN for your child, complete and submit Form W-7A to the IRS. It generally takes between 4 to 8 weeks to receive the ATIN.