With the world economy expanding, an increasing number of individuals are finding a need to file tax returns with United States Internal Revenue Service. Since most international taxpayers do not have a social security number they are required to apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). Taxpayers are required to complete form W-7, Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, and enclose original documentation verifying their identity. Examples of the identification documents include:
- Civil birth certificate
- US Citizenship and Immigration Services photo ID
- US driver’s license
- Foreign military ID card
- US state ID card
- Foreign vote’s registration card
The most commonly used identification document is a passport. Most often taxpayers are uncomfortable with furnishing their original passport to the IRS with their Form W-7 application as the average processing time is 7 weeks and may extend to 9-11 weeks during the peak tax season months January through April.
However, if taxpayers do not want to submit their original documents, they are required to visit a US Embassy to have their passport certified; it should be noted a notarized copy will not be accepted. If the taxpayer’s passport is issued from a country that participates in The 1961 Hague Convention Treaty, an additional verification known as an Apostille, is also required.
The Hague Convention is an international agreement between countries, most often referred to in intercountry adoptions. The agreement is established between countries to implement the Apostille requirement when confirming an individual’s identification.
Apostilles authenticate the seal and signatures of officials on public documents such as passports and birth certificates. Taxpayers requesting certified copies of their passports from a United States Embassy for purposes of applying or renewing an ITIN may not be aware if their country participates in The Hague Convention. As of November 2018, the list of participating countries exceeds 95 countries and includes: Canada, China, France, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, United Kingdom. A complete list of participating countries can be found on the US Department of State website.
The IRS has rejected certified copies of passports due to the missing Apostille verification. This requires taxpayers to restart the entire application process. RINA is committed to informing taxpayers of less commonly known requirements in hopes of eliminating and alleviating frustrations and delays. Please contact RINA if you have any questions or need assistance.