August 2019 JD Supra
jd supra logo

When do you need an IRS Certifying Acceptance Agent? Article appeared at JD Supra on 8/15/19.

There are foreign national Individuals and other foreign Persons that do not have or do not qualify for a Social Security Number (SSN) but need a 

Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) to file certain tax forms and schedules including IRS Form 1040. A TIN is an identification number used by the IRS in the administration of tax laws. In the case of those Individuals not qualified to possess a SSN, an IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is required for federal tax purposes. An ITIN doesn’t entitle an Individual to Social Security benefits and does not change the immigration status of an Individual to work in the U.S.

An Individual requiring an ITIN is a:

  • Nonresident alien who is required to file a U.S. tax return
  • U.S. resident alien who is (based on days present in the United States) filing a U.S. tax return
  • Dependent or spouse of a U.S. citizen/resident alien
  • Dependent or spouse of a nonresident alien visa holder
  • Nonresident alien claiming a tax treaty benefit
  • Nonresident alien student, professor or researcher filing a U.S. tax return or claiming an exception

Individuals requiring an ITIN may apply via Form W-7 through a Certifying Acceptance Agent (CAA), an Acceptance Agent (AA) or in person by going to visiting designated Taxpayer Assistance Centers

 The CAA:

  • Is a person or an entity (business or organization) authorized to assist individuals and other foreign persons that need a TIN and has a written agreement with the IRS for this purpose.
  • Facilitates the application process by reviewing the necessary documents, authenticating the identity of the applicants and forwarding the completed forms to IRS.
  • Returns the documentation immediately to the individual after reviewing its authenticity. Meaning, the CAA will save an Individual from mailing original documents to the IRS.
  • Is authorized to receive the IRS ITIN number on behalf of the ITIN applicant.
  • May receive applications for an ITIN from Individuals residing outside of the U.S.
  • May review and verify original documentation or a certified copy from the issuing agency through face-to-face or video electronic interview (SKYPE).
  • May authenticate passports and birth certificates for dependents. A CAA submits Form W-7 together with Form W-7(COA) Certificate of Accuracy for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (this form is only used by IRS Certified Acceptance Agents when submitting Form W-7)

 The AA:

  • Needs to submit original all the original documentation or certified copies of the documentation from the issuing agency to the IRS for all Individual applicants. Individuals must wait for the IRS to return the original documents. IRS states that the original documents are mailed within 60 days of receipt and processing of Form W-7.

 The TAC:

  • Primary, secondary, and dependent persons may submit W-7 applications in person with original documents at a designated IRS TAC. The Designated TACs will certify only original and copies certified by the issuing agency passports and National ID cards.

With an IRS CAA, Applicants can continue to safeguard their original documents

A CAA is able to review an applicant’s original documents, verify their authenticity and mail the copies of the authenticated originals to the IRS in lieu of submitting the original documents. Saving an Individual from mailing original documents to the IRS safeguards the individual’s original documentation. Moreover, Individuals that mail in original documents to the IRS could potentially violate immigration rules by not having their documents at hand. There are “stop and identify statutes” in several states of the US. Individuals that are not able to provide identification could be subject to arrest.

Don’t be a Victim of your own making

The use of a CAA minimizes the risk of misplacing original documents and having to wait to receive them back from the IRS. Only original identification documents or certified copies of the documents from the issuing agency are accepted by the IRS. Utilizing the services of an IRS CAA in lieu of sending original documentation to the IRS is a wise choice.