Something missing? Shortened numbers safeguard identity

Final IRS regulations make permanent, and expand the scope of, proposed regulations that allow the use of truncated, or shortened, taxpayer identification numbers on payee statements and certain other documents.

A truncated taxpayer identification number (TTIN) displays only the last four digits of a taxpayer identifying number and uses asterisks or X’s for the first five digits.

Because of concerns about identity theft, the IRS has run a pilot program allowing filers of certain information returns to truncate an individual payee’s Social Security number (SSN) or other nine-digit identifying number on paper payee statements if the filers met certain requirements. The pilot program was not available for any information return filed with the IRS, any payee statement furnished electronically, or any payee statement that was not in the Form 1098, Form 1099 or Form 5498 series.

Last year, the IRS published proposed reliance regulations that established the TTIN and set forth guidelines for its use. The scope of the proposed regulations mirrored that of the pilot program with one exception: The proposed regulations permitted use of a TTIN on electronic payee statements in addition to paper payee statements.

The IRS has now issued final regulations that expand the circumstances under which taxpayers may use TTINs. Specifically, the final regulations permit truncation of an employer identification number (EIN).

The final regulations permit use of a truncated taxpayer identification number on any federal tax-related payee statement or other document required to be furnished to another person except:

  • Where prohibited by statute, regulation or other guidance published in the Internal Revenue Bulletin, form or instructions;
  • Where a statute, regulation, other guidance published in the Internal Revenue Bulletin, instructions or form specifically requires use of a Social Security number, individual tax identification number, adoption identification number or employer identification number; or
  • On any return or statement required to be filed with, or furnished to, the IRS.

A person may not truncate his or her own taxpayer identification number on any tax form, statement or other document that taxpayer furnishes to another person. For example, an employer may not truncate its EIN on a Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, that the employer furnishes to an employee.

The final regulations became effective July 15, 2014. The amendments to the specific information reporting regulations are effective for payee statements due after Dec. 31, 2014.