Q: Can a bank open an account for a U.S. person that does not have a taxpayer identification number?
A: No, the bank cannot unless the customer has applied for a taxpayer identification number, the bank confirms that the application was filed before the customer opened the account, and the bank obtains the taxpayer identification number within a reasonable period of time after the account is opened. Note, however, that a bank does not need to obtain a taxpayer identification number when opening a new account for a customer that has an existing account, as long as the bank has a reasonable belief that it knows the true identity of the customer. A bank may also open an account for a person who lacks legal capacity with the identifying information, including taxpayer identification number, of an individual who opens an account for that person. (January 2004)