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A Certifying Acceptance Agent (CAA) is authorized by agreement with the IRS to review identity documents and assist taxpayers with Form W-7, Application for Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). CAA's will now be allowed to authenticate the passport and birth certificate for dependents. CAAs will continue to certify identification documents for the primary and secondary applicants.

Who needs an ITIN?

An ITIN is a number issued by the IRS to enable a person to file a tax return. The ITIN can be for a primary taxpayer, a spouse or a dependent.

Not everyone is eligible for an ITIN! You must obtain a Social Security number if you are eligible to do so. The IRS may require that you obtain a denial letter from the Social Security Administration if you have been admitted to the United States under a visa that allows you to work with approval from the Department of Homeland Security.

An application for an ITIN is most often submitted with a valid tax return to support the need for the individual to obtain an ITIN. There are some limited exceptions to this requirement.

An unexpired passport is the only document that satisfies both requirements. You can apply for an ITIN without using the passport. There are alternative documents!

The IRS has a table of documents on page 3 of the Instructions for Form W-7.

Please be aware that neither the IRS nor the CAA can guarantee the issuance of an ITIN if you use the services of a CAA.

The CAA cannot guarantee that the IRS won't send you a request for the original, certified or additional documents to enable them to clarify questions they may have about the application.

What is the process?

Here are the steps, in general:

  • The process starts with a valid tax return for a prior year, the current tax year or an amended return.
  • A Form W-7 is prepared and supporting documents provided to the CAA. The CAA has specific procedures for reviewing and verifying the authenticity of the documents.
  • Next there is an in-person visit or a video conference with everyone present. This includes spouses and children, as well as the primary taxpayer on the tax return.
  • If the documents, application and tax return are valid, the CAA will prepare a packet that is submitted by the CAA to the IRS unit that processes applications for ITIN's. The packet will consist of the tax return, Forms W-7, copies or originals of documents as required by IRS regulations and the CAA's Certificate of Accuracy.
  • Once the ITIN Unit receives the packet it is logged into the IRS tracking system. Applications are then sorted and placed into a queue for an IRS employee to review the application and documents.
  • If the application and supporting documents are accepted by the IRS, an ITIN letter is issued with the ITIN number. If the IRS doesn't accept the application, the application is either put into suspense pending the taxpayer providing additional information to the IRS or it is rejected.
  • If an ITIN is issued, the tax return is then forwarded to another IRS department responsible for processing tax returns.
  • If the application is suspended, the IRS sends a letter to you and to the CAA requesting additional information. There is a deadline to respond. If the deadline is not met, the ITIN application is rejected and the tax return, with adjustments made by the IRS, is forwarded for processing.
  • If the application is rejected, the IRS sends a rejection notice to you and to the CAA. The tax return is forwarded for processing with the IRS making automatic adjustments to the tax return provided the ITIN application was for a spouse or dependent. The tax return is not processed if the ITIN was for the primary taxpayer.
The CAA is a facilitator between the IRS and the client. The CAA works to submit proper ITIN applications to enable the IRS and the taxpayer to get through the process with less risk of processing issues.

How long does it take to get an ITIN?

The IRS is in control of the timing. The use of a CAA might speed up the process, but there is no guarantee. The CAA does have the ability to speak with the IRS ITIN Unit for status updates and to make sure the process is moving along. Typical turnaround time to receive a response from the IRS for an ITIN is 3-4 weeks. It may be longer to get an ITIN for applications submitted between January 15 and April 15 due to the number of applications received by the IRS during this time period.

What is the cost?

The cost for CAA services is independent of the cost of the preparation of Form W-7.

The services provided include, but aren't limited to, document verification, submission of the packet to the IRS, meeting with all applicants either in-person or by video-conference, assisting with suspended applications if needed, and contacting the IRS ITIN unit on behalf of the client.

The cost for CAA services depends upon whether the person needing the ITIN is a taxpayer, spouse or a dependent.