When someone doesn’t qualify for a Social Security Number, the IRS will issue a tax id number- Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to be used on tax returns. The few times I’ve seen one, it’s been for a spouse or dependent of someone who has a social security number. But an ITIN can also be issued to a foreign national or non-resident alien so they can file the required US tax returns. The application is made on form W-7 and it’s submitted with some very specific documentation.
The IRS has just issued interim regulations on the documentation required to be submitted with the W-7. These new regulations require that original documentation or copies which have been certified by the issuing agency be submitted with the application. Notarized copies of the originals will no longer be accepted.
Since this is the slow time of the year for issuing ITINs, the IRS expects that the new rules will affect few applicants. The plan is to have the new regulations in place before the 2012 filing season when most applications are submitted.
There are a couple of exceptions to the new documentation rules; military spouses and dependents and non-resident aliens who need an ITIN for tax treaty benefits. All the new rules can be found online.