IRS Strengthens Control Over ITINs

By: Attys. Robert L. Reeves and Natalie Joy Ang

In December 2003, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced revisions to strengthen control over the Independent Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) application process. To ensure that ITINs are used for their intended tax purposes, the IRS implemented changes including a revised Form W-7, Application for IRS ITIN; applications must show a federal tax purpose; the list for proof of identity was reduced to thirteen acceptable documents; and issuance of an authorization letter in lieu of an ITIN card.

An ITIN is a nine-digit tax processing number issued by the IRS to individuals who do not have or are ineligible to obtain a social security number. They are issued regardless of one’s immigration status, allowing everyone the opportunity to fulfill their tax obligations mandated by the Internal Revenue Code. Though similar in appearance to a social security number, ITINs should only be used for tax purposes. It is not a valid form of identification and cannot be used for employment purposes.

In the past, people seeking an ITIN needed to simply file Form W-7 along with proof of identity documents. The new IRS regulations governing ITINs require applicants to submit their completed tax return with their Form W-7. Also, if the tax return requires more than one ITIN number, all Form W-7 should be attached to the same tax return.

In addition, proof of identity and foreign status must be submitted with an ITIN application. An original passport is the only document accepted by the IRS as proof of both identity and foreign status. If a passport is not available, the IRS will also accept two or more originals or certified/notarized copies from their list of acceptable documents. The list which previously included forty forms of acceptable documents have been reduced to the following thirteen:

· National identification card;
· U.S. driver’s license;
· Civil birth certificate;
· Foreign driver’s license;
· U.S. state identification card;
· Foreign voter’s registration card;
· U.S. military identification card;
· Foreign military identification card;
· Visa;
· U.S.C.I.S. photo identification;
· Medical records for dependents only; and
· School records for dependents and students only.

Do not mail your tax return and ITIN application to the address listed in the Form 1040, 1040a or 1040EZ instructions. Instead, all returns with their ITIN applications and supporting documents should be mailed to:

Internal Revenue Service
Philadelphia Service Center
ITIN Unit, P.O. Box 447
Bensalem, PA 19020

The IRS no longer issues an ITIN card. Instead, you can expect an authorization letter containing your tax identification number to be mailed to you within four to six weeks. For additional information on ITINs or to download Form W-7 and other tax forms, you can visit the IRS website at www.irs.gov.