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New ITIN issuance guidelines for US expatriates

ITIN: Individual tax identification number

An ITIN is an Individual Tax Identification Number issued by the IRS to certain taxpayers who – for one reason or another – are not eligible to have a Social Security Number issued to them. Some of these individuals include foreign exchange students, nonresident aliens, foreign nationals, and a variety of international or domestic individuals who are required by unique circumstances to pay US taxes or file an annual US tax return.

If you do not have a Social Security Number, are required to pay US taxes or file a US tax return, and you need to have an ITIN issued to you, you may request the issuance of an ITIN by completing Form W-7 and submitting it to the IRS. Make sure to pay close attention to this form, as there are items which require additional documentation to be submitted.

Beginning in June, 2012, the IRS ceased to accept copies of documentation submitted with Form W-7.  As such, it’s imperative that only original documents are submitted. If you have a certified copy from the agency which originally issued your documentation, this hard copy version is acceptable by IRS standards. For now, this is an interim ruling during the developmental phase of new ITIN application procedures, and there are only 2 groups who are not affected by this interim ruling: Spouses of military personnel or military personnel dependents without a valid Social Security Number (these individuals must check box e on Form W-7) and nonresident aliens who need an ITIN to take advantage of tax treaty benefits (these individuals must check box a and specify the reason for the request using box h on Form W-7).

On October 2, 2012, the IRS launched a new electronic application procedure for international students living in the United States through the SEVP (Student Exchange Visitors Program). This streamlined procedure can also be utilized by US expat taxpayers who have been approved for a filing extension from Tax Year 2011. The IRS has announced that the current system available online is a temporary measure until a final and even more streamlined system is available. The IRS expects the final streamlined application procedure to be available by January 1, 2013.

Required documentation

As indicated earlier, when submitting Form W-7, additional documentation is required. The documents which are accepted by the IRS as valid forms of identification are:

  • Birth certificate (ITIN applicants under the age of 18 are required to send)
  • Foreign ID
  • Foreign voter’s registration card
  • Medical records (for dependents of applicants only – under the age of 14, under 18 for students)
  • National ID (must contain current photo and address, name, date of birth, and a future expiration date)
  • Passport (does not require additional documentation)
  • Travel or work Visa
  • US state ID
  • US Military ID
  • USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) photo ID
  • Valid U.S. driver’s license
  • Valid foreign driver’s license
  • School records (for dependents of applicants only under the age of 14, under 18 for students)

In addition to being current (containing a future expiration date), all documentation must have a valid name and photograph and show proof of your foreign status. For documents on which expiration dates are not issued, the issue date must be within a timeframe of 12 months or less prior to the date submitted with an ITIN application.

The 2013 year update from the IRS

On Nov. 29, 2012 the Internal Revenue Service finalized the interim procedures to strengthen the Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) program requirements

A key change is that, for the first time, new ITINs will expire after five years. This change will help ensure ITINs are being used for legitimate tax purposes. Taxpayers who still need an ITIN will be able to reapply at the end of the expiration period.

The finalized procedures are effective Jan. 1, 2013 in time for the 2013 tax-filing season when many ITIN applications are submitted along with a taxpayer’s income tax return.