In order to protect the integrity of the ITIN process, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has announced some interim changes, which are effective from 22 June 2012 through the end of 2012.

The changes generally only affect applicants who apply for ITINs for the purpose of filing their United States individual income tax returns. New temporary guidelines precede more permanent changes expected as a result of the overall review of the ITIN process, which is being conducted by the IRS later this year.

Only the original documentation or certified copies of the document from the issuing agency will be accepted by the IRS for the rest of 2012. Applications supported by notarized copies of documents will not be accepted, even if they were submitted through a Certifying Acceptance Agent (CAA).

These changes do not affect certain applicants including individuals requiring an ITIN for the purpose of claiming a tax treaty benefit. The original documents, or copies certified by the issuing agency, or copies notarized by a foreign notary under the Hague Convention, to which an Apostille is attached, remain acceptable forms of identification for individuals furnishing their own ITIN application.

However, this category of application will be subject to increased scrutiny by the IRS.

Individuals using a CAA to furnish an application for the purpose of claiming a tax treaty benefit need only, upon verification of eligibility for an ITIN by a CAA, provide the original documents to the CAA for sighting and verification of both identity and foreign status, in order to satisfy IRS requirements for identification.

Individuals whose ITIN applications were submitted to the IRS with their United States tax returns, and whose ITIN applications were being processed as at 22 June 2012 do not need to resubmit their application. Instead, they should wait until they are contacted by the IRS, and be prepared for a possible request for additional documentation.

An ITIN is a number assigned to an individual for the purpose of processing tax-related data in respect of that individual. The number is not available to individuals who qualify for a Social Security Number.

Changes to the ITIN Acceptance Agent programme have also been made, as the IRS tightens the process in order to provide better service to Acceptance Agents, including CAAs, and taxpayers.