"The American Institute of CPAs told the IRS that the new interim rules about how taxpayers must apply for Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) for 2011 tax returns are burdensome and may prevent some taxpayers from getting the documentation they need to qualify for an ITIN. Individuals who are not eligible for a Social Security Number must have an ITIN in order to meet their U.S. tax filing obligations and claim refunds. The AICPA urged the IRS to review its decision to not accept notarized copies of identification documents, such as passports, and to issue guidance about how taxpayers who need ITINs can comply with their 2011 federal tax obligations. In its Aug. 28, 2012 letter to IRS Commissioner Douglas H. Shulman, the AICPA said, “We request immediate guidance regarding how taxpayers who are unable to obtain ITINs under the interim changes should achieve compliance with their 2011 federal tax obligations. This issue is particularly urgent as individual income tax returns on extension are due by Oct. 15, 2012.” The AICPA explained that the difficulties for taxpayers arise primarily because the changes require taxpayers, as of June 22, 2012, to mail original documents to the IRS, such as their passports or other appropriate identification documents, which the IRS says it could take up to 60 days to return. Taxpayers may also submit a copy of the document that has been certified by the foreign issuing agency, but some governments do not offer certified documents. “It is impractical for most foreign persons in need of an ITIN to surrender their original identification documents to the IRS for 60 days,” the AICPA said. “We have also heard from our members that some prospective ITIN applicants who are currently residing in the United States have been advised by their home country’s consulate that it does not issue certified copies of passports.” In its letter the AICPA said, “We think notarized documents are an efficient method of transmitting required documentation to the IRS in the majority of cases.” - inAudit, Aug. 31, 2012.
[Here is a link to the IRS page with information about the new rules.]