Beginning June 22, 2012, and continuing until the IRS issues new rules (which it says it will do by the beginning of the 2013 filing season), the IRS will not issue individual taxpayer identification numbers (ITINs) unless the applicants provide original documents such as passports or birth certificates, or certified copies of those documents from the issuing agencies (IR-2012-62). Previously, ITINs could be issued based on notarized copies of the required documents. In addition, ITINs will not be issued based on applications submitted through certified acceptance agents unless they attach original documentation or copies of original documents certified by the issuing agency.
To obtain an ITIN, taxpayers complete Form W-7, Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. ITINs are issued for taxpayers who are not eligible for Social Security numbers (SSN). ITINs are used by, for example, foreign taxpayers who have to file income tax returns in the United States.
These interim rules do not apply to military spouses and dependents without an SSN who need an ITIN, or nonresident aliens applying for ITINs for the purpose of claiming tax treaty benefits. Although some nonresident aliens may still be subject to the previous documentation standard, the IRS warns that their applications will face heightened scrutiny.
Taxpayers who submitted Forms W-7 before June 22, 2012, will not be subject to the new requirements and do not need to take any action unless the IRS contacts them.
—Sally P. Schreiber (email@example.com) is a JofA senior editor.