On September 28, 2014, the Governor of California signed into law a bill which modified the current law in California requiring the submission of a social security number before a state professional licensing board could accept an application for a professional license. The new law allows the state licensing board to now accept either a social security number, or an individual tax identification number (ITIN).

An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is a tax processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The IRS issues ITINs to individuals who are required to have a U.S. taxpayer identification number but who do not have, and are not eligible to obtain a Social Security Number (SSN) from the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Examples of individuals who need ITINs include:
• A nonresident alien required to file a U.S. tax return
• A U.S. resident alien (based on days present in the United States) filing a U.S. tax return
• A dependent or spouse of a U.S. citizen/resident alien
• A dependent or spouse of a nonresident alien visa holder

ITINs are issued regardless of immigration status because both resident and nonresident aliens may have a U.S. filing or reporting requirement under the Internal Revenue Code.

Individuals must have a filing requirement and file a valid federal income tax return to receive an ITIN, unless they meet an exception (exceptions involve people such as dependents of people in the US military who are not eligible for Social Security Numbers).

ITINs are for federal tax reporting only, and are not intended to serve any other purpose. IRS issues ITINs to help individuals comply with the U.S. tax laws, and to provide a means to efficiently process and account for tax returns and payments for those not eligible for Social Security Numbers (SSNs).

Unfortunately, this new policy does not help foreign born healthcare professionals who are not in the US, unless they have one of the above listed tax obligations. More information about ITINs are available on the IRS website (www.irs.gov).