ITINS are designed for tax administration purposes and are only issued to people who are not eligible to obtain a Social Security Number (SSN). ITINs play a critical role in tax administration for foreign nationals, resident and nonresident aliens and others who have tax filing or tax payment obligations.
Due to an overwhelming number of unused ITINs, the IRS will deactivate an ITIN that has not been used on at least one tax return in the past five consecutive years beginning in 2016.
It is estimated that only about ¼ of the ITINs issued are actually being used on U.S. taxes for foreign taxpayers. This new system is designed so that the ITINs not being used will expire and the ITINs that are being used will no longer expire after five years, forcing the foreign taxpayer to apply for a new ITIN, as long as the foreign taxpayers continue to file U.S. tax returns.