Changes to ITIN Application Process

Any foreign national, non-resident alien, or other taxpayer who has filing or payment obligations under U.S. tax law and who is not eligible to obtain a social security number is required to obtain an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).  On November 29, 2012 the Internal Revenue Service announced updated procedures for obtaining ITINs.  These rules are effective as of January 1, 2013.

Individuals applying for an ITIN directly with the IRS must complete IRS Form W-7 and send the IRS either original documentation (e.g., passports and birth certificates) or copies of these documents that have been certified by the issuing agency (notarized copies of these documents or copies with an apostille are not acceptable).  Because many persons are not comfortable about sending an original passport to the IRS, the IRS will be opening Taxpayer Assistance Centers (TACs) to process ITIN applications.  The first TACs are expected to open in places where a greater number of ITIN applications have historically been processed (e.g., in larger cities).  The location of TACs will be posted on the IRS website .

As before, persons can also obtain ITINs through Certifying Acceptance Agents (CAAs).  CAAs must still inspect the person’s original passport (or certified copy), but the applicant will not be required to surrender any documents.  However, in a change from prior practice, ITIN applications for dependents submitted to the IRS by CAAs will require original documents or copies certified by the issuing agency.

In another change from prior practice, newly issued ITINs will expire after 5 years; persons still requiring ITINs after 5 years must reapply.

Exceptions to these rules exist for families of military personnel, for foreign persons who have certain types of income subject to withholding (e.g., pensions), and certain students.

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