IRS Tightens ITIN Requirements
Dallas, TX (Law Firm Newswire) October 15, 2012 – The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has announced changes to its procedures for obtaining Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs).
ITINs are used by foreign nationals who do not have a Social Security Number (SSN), but do have a tax filing requirement. The new policy requires original documentation, such as birth certificates and passports, or certified copies from the issuing agency, rather than notarized copies. In addition, applications will not be accepted from certifying acceptance agents, unless they include the original documentation. The IRS said that the changes “strengthen its procedures,” but the policy will make it more difficult to obtain ITINs.
“The IRS issues ITINs to foreign nationals who are not eligible to receive a Social Security Number which includes, as a subset, foreign nationals without status in the United States but who have a tax filing requirement independent of their status,” said Stewart Rabinowitz, a Dallas immigration attorney. “Making it harder for some foreign nationals to obtain an ITIN so they can pay US income taxes, makes it easier for those persons to choose to avoid filing a tax return and paying taxes altogether. Which action, as a society, do we want to encourage?”
The IRS action is an interim policy change, active through the end of 2012, and applies to the majority of applicants submitting the Application for IRS ITIN, Form W-7. The agency will be accepting suggestions from stakeholders regarding the policy, and will issue final rules before the 2013 filing season, when the majority of ITIN requests come in. The IRS said it wanted to continue to improve the program, while reducing barriers to people filing their tax returns.
Two categories of people needing ITINs are not impacted by the changes: military spouses and dependents who do not have an SSN, and nonresident aliens claiming tax treaty benefits. These individuals may continue to follow the instructions in the current W-7 form.
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