Getting an Employer Identification Number (EIN)
Put your best sales pitch on paper to land major contractsAn Employer Identification Number (EIN) is the federal tax ID number used by the Internal Revenue Service to identify your business. EINs are also known as Federal Tax Identification Numbers, and they are like a Social Security number for your business.
You must obtain an EIN if any of the following apply to your business:
- You have employees.
- Your company is organized as a corporation or partnership.
- Your company offers a Keogh retirement plan.
- You file one or more of the following tax returns: Employment, Excise, or Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
- You withhold taxes from a non-resident on income other than wages
- You are involved with certain forms of trusts, non-profits or farmers cooperatives, as defined by the IRS.
The steps below will assist you in obtaining an EIN for your company if one is required.
Use the quick and easy online EIN application form
Apply online now if you already know you need an EIN.
Determine whether your company is exempt from the EIN requirementNot all companies are required to obtain an EIN. For example, the IRS says you needn't file if you change the name of your existing company, move it to a new location or add a location or even if you operate multiple businesses. Some states may still require a state EIN number.
The IRS booklet "Understanding Your EIN" will familiarize you with EINs and whether you are required to obtain one. Familiarize yourself with the instructions for filing IRS Form SS-4 and requesting an EIN. Check your state to find out if the states where your business operates require some form of EIN or charter.
Discover if your company needs a new EINEINs typically do not change throughout the life of your business, except when a significant change to your company occurs, such as: (1) filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 11 bankruptcy; (2) incorporating your business; (3) adding partners and organizing your business as a partnership; (4) taking control of an existing company by buying or inheriting it, and organizing that company as a sole proprietorship.
For up-to-the-minute information on filing online for an EIN, go to the IRS's Do you need a new EIN Web page. Also see their frequently asked questions.
Apply for your business EINIt's a simple process you can do by phone, fax, mail or (best of all) online.
To apply by phone, call the IRS Business & Specialty Tax Line at (800) 829-4933 and speak with a representative. You can also download and complete form SS-4, Application for Employer Identification Number, then mail or fax your application, based on the state where you live. Or, alternately, find out the process for filing an online application. Avoid the most common reasons online filers face delays or rejection of their applications. Online filing is not applicable to foreign-based companies and certain others; see if your company may not file online.
- EINs may only be used for business activities and are not a substitute for a social security number.
- If you utilize the services of a taxpayer representative, that individual or firm can request an EIN on your behalf.
- Certain companies may not file their EIN application online. For assistance call (800) 829-4933 inside the U.S., or (215) 516-6999 from outside the U.S.
- Check the status of a mailed EIN application or verify an EIN number by calling (800) 829-4933.
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