FIRPTA is the acronym for the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act.
As of August 1, 2008 home sellers are no longer required to provide to home buyers the Seller's Affidavit of Nonforeign Status, which includes the seller's social security numbers.
As a real estate agent I have NEVER provided a seller's social security number to a buyer. My practice has always been to blacken out the social security number before the FIRPTA was released to a buyer as part of the seller disclosures.
Only the protected copy of the FIRPTA was made available to the buyer. If a buyer's agent asked me for it, and most did not, I simply instructed them to verify with the escrow officer that the information they need (social security number) is in fact on file. The few agents that did ask had no issues with verifying with the escrow officer that the seller's social security number was on file.
I have explained to Sellers at the listing appointment that although it is/was required that I would never expose their social security number to a buyer or cause their social security number to be publicly exposed by posting it online.
Thankfully, the federal withholding law is now in alignment with California's Franchise Tax Board policy which permits an escrow officer to remove the seller's tax ID number from the buyer's copy of the California withholding tax statement, but not other copies.
This is great news - don't you agree?