When does U.S. Law Oblige a Person (if ever) to use a Social Security Number? How does this impact former USCs or LPRs?

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When does U.S. Law Oblige a Person (if ever) to use a Social Security Number?  How does this impact former USCs or LPRs?

This is an interesting question, which I have done a bit of research on under both the federal tax law (Title 26) and the Social Security Act.

For federal tax purposes, a USC and a LPR  must necessarily use their SSN as their U.S. taxpayer identification number.  This would generally only be applicable, if they have a tax return filing requirement, or have a U.S. financial account that requires a taxpayer identifying number.  See, the regulations that require that a United States citizen use a SSN as his or her taxpayer identifying number (26 CFR 301.6109-1 – Identifying numbers. (a)(1)(ii)(A)):

  • (A) Except as otherwise provided in paragraph (a)(1)(ii)(B) and (D) of this section, and § 301.6109-3, an individual required to furnish a taxpayer identifying number must use a social security number.

Since all LPRs and United States citizens are eligible to obtain a social security number, they are therefore required to use the SSN as their U.S. taxpayer identifying number.  However, former USCs and LPRs may never have a U.S. tax return filing requirement once they have renounced or abandoned their USC or LPR status, respectively.

The IRS website follows these requirements in its explanation on its website at U.S. Taxpayer Identification Number Requirement

Interestingly, there appears to be no statutory or regulatory rule in the law that allows an individual to somehow “expunge” or otherwise terminate their SSN, once obtained, even after loss of USC or LPR status.

See an earlier post, regarding What happens to your Social Security Number when you shed US citizenship or LPR status?

I cannot find any requirement in the law that obligates a former USC or LPR to use their SSN, other than if they may be required to file a U.S. income tax return (or if they have a U.S. financial or investment account), 

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