IR-2003-140, Dec. 17, 2003
WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today
announced several steps to strengthen controls over the
issuance of Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers.
The changes will help ensure that ITINs are issued for
their intended tax administration purpose for
administering the tax code and not for other reasons,
such as providing personal identification. In addition,
the IRS is taking steps to help ensure that applicants
can continue to obtain ITINs without undue burden.
Beginning today, new ITIN applicants must use a
revised Form W-7, Individual Taxpayer Identification
Number Application. ITIN applicants also must provide
proof that the ITIN will be used for tax administration
purposes. For applicants seeking an ITIN in order to
file a tax return, the return must be filed along with
“About one-quarter of the ITINs issued for tax return
purposes never actually find their way onto a tax
return,” said IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson. “The
steps taken today ensure ITINs will be issued only to
those seeking to comply with their tax obligations.”
Federal law requires individuals with U.S. income,
regardless of immigration status, to pay U.S. taxes. The
ITIN, a nine-digit number that begins with the number 9,
was created for use on tax returns for those taxpayers
who do not qualify for a Social Security Number. The IRS
has issued 7 million ITINs since 1996.
However, some ITINs issued by the IRS do not appear
in tax filings or tax reporting documents and may have
been procured solely to serve as a form of
Earlier this year, the IRS issued
letters to all governors and state motor vehicle
departments advising that ITINs were not designed to
serve as personal identification and would not be
suitable for determining identification of applicants
for driver’s licenses.
After a review of the ITIN program, the IRS will
implement these changes effective immediately:
All new ITIN applicants will have to show a
federal tax purpose for seeking the ITIN. For those
seeking an ITIN to meet their income tax filing
obligations, this will require attaching a federal tax
return to the Form W-7 when they are ready to file
their tax return with the IRS.
ITIN applications without proof of need for tax
administration purposes will be rejected.
The IRS will reduce to 13 from 40 the number of
documents it will accept as proof of identity to
obtain an ITIN. The 13 acceptable documents are listed
in the new Form W-7 instructions.
The IRS also will change the appearance of the
ITIN from a card to an authorization letter to avoid
any possible similarities with a Social Security
A small number of non-U.S. residents apply for an
ITIN to report income under a tax treaty, and a small
number of U.S. resident and non-resident applicants
apply for an ITIN to report income from a U.S. bank or
brokerage account. Neither type of applicant will be
required to file a tax return along with their ITIN
application. Non-resident applicants will be required to
furnish evidence of their ownership of the asset that
gave rise to the reporting obligation. Resident
applicants will be required to furnish evidence of
actual rather than intended ownership of the bank or
The IRS will continue to help individuals who seek
ITINs comply with the tax laws. The IRS has found no
indication of any differences in accuracy rates between
tax returns filed with ITINs and tax returns filed with
SSNs. The agency understands the need to continue to
monitor challenges posed by ITINs, and will do so over
the course of time.
The IRS will continue to review ways to improve Form
W-7 and will conduct a public comment period until June
15, 2004. The IRS will be publishing an announcement in
the Internal Revenue Bulletin that will ask for comments
on the revised form and the application process.
Internal Revenue Bulletin 2004-2, to be published on
Jan. 12, 2004, will give instructions on when and how
comments may be submitted.
Additional information is available at
IRS.gov where English and Spanish versions of the Form
W-7 are available. A list of frequently asked questions
(FAQs) also is available.
Form W-7, Application for IRS
Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (PDF
Forma W-7, Solicitud de
Número de Identificación Personal del Contribuyente
del Servicio de Impuestos Internos (PDF
to IRS Newswire