Ein Number: Comprehensive Guide for Business Owners


An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is a unique nine-digit number assigned to businesses by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for tax administration purposes. EINs are essential for businesses operating in the United States or U.S. Territories, as they facilitate communication with the IRS and other financial institutions. The EIN plays a crucial role in several aspects of business operations, including paying federal and state taxes, opening business bank accounts, applying for loans, and filing tax returns.

Obtaining an EIN is a straightforward process that can be completed online, by mail, or by fax, depending on your preference and eligibility. To apply for an EIN, you will need a valid Taxpayer Identification Number (such as an SSN, ITIN, or another EIN). Once you have received your EIN, it is important to understand how to use it properly and stay compliant with tax regulations and other legal considerations.

Key Takeaways

  • An EIN is a unique nine-digit number assigned to businesses for tax administration purposes
  • Businesses can apply for an EIN online, by mail, or by fax with a valid Taxpayer Identification Number
  • Obtaining an EIN is necessary for various aspects of businesses, such as paying taxes, opening bank accounts, and applying for loans

Understanding EINs

Purpose of an EIN

An Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number, is a nine-digit number assigned by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to identify a business entity. The primary purpose of an EIN is to help the IRS easily recognize and track the tax accounts of various types of businesses and organizations. It is essential for filing tax returns, reporting income, and maintaining compliance with tax laws.

Types of Entities Requiring an EIN

There are several types of entities that require an EIN, including:

  1. Sole Proprietors: Individuals who own a business and are the sole proprietor can obtain an EIN, although it is not mandatory unless they hire employees.
  2. Corporations: All corporations are required to obtain an EIN for tax filing and identification purposes.
  3. Partnerships: Partnerships, which consist of two or more business partners, also need an EIN for tax-related purposes.
  4. Nonprofit Organizations: Nonprofits, such as charitable organizations, schools, and hospitals, must have an EIN to maintain their tax-exempt status.
  5. Trusts: Both revocable and irrevocable trusts need an EIN when filing income tax returns.
  6. Estates: Executors or administrators of estates are required to obtain an EIN for tax filing and management needs.

The process of obtaining an EIN is simple and can be done online, by fax, mail, or phone (in the case of international applicants). It is essential to note that the IRS limits the issuance of EINs to one per responsible party per day to ensure fair treatment for all taxpayers.

Eligibility and Requirements

Determining Eligibility

To be eligible for an Employer Identification Number (EIN), the principal business must be located in the United States or U.S. Territories. The person applying for an EIN must possess a valid Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN). Examples of TINs include:

  • Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)
  • Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number (ATIN)
  • EIN for existing businesses

There can be only one EIN application per responsible party per day.

Information Needed for Applying

When applying for an EIN, the following information is necessary:

  1. Responsible Party: Provide the name and the TIN (SSN, ITIN, or EIN) of the true principal officer, general partner, grantor, owner or trustor, or other individual who will control, manage, or direct the applicant entity and the disposition of its funds and assets.
  2. Legal Name of Entity: Provide the legal name of your organization or business.
  3. Trade Name (if applicable): If your organization operates under a trade name or “doing business as” name, provide that name as well.
  4. Entity Type: Specify the legal structure of your organization (e.g., sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, etc.).
  5. Business Activities: Describe the main activities that your organization will engage in.
  6. Number of Employees: Estimate the number of employees your organization will have in the next 12 months.

When applying for an EIN, be prepared to provide the necessary information in a clear and concise manner to ensure a smooth application process.

Applying for an EIN

Online Application Process

One of the most convenient ways to apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) is through the online application process. To be eligible for an online EIN application, your principal business should be located in the United States or its territories. Additionally, the person applying online needs a valid Taxpayer Identification Number (SSN, ITIN, or EIN).

To apply online, visit the IRS website at irs.gov and follow the guided application process. Keep in mind that you are limited to one EIN per responsible party per day. Your nine-digit EIN becomes available immediately upon verification.

Applying by Phone or Mail

Alternatively, you can also apply for an EIN through phone or mail by submitting the Form SS-4.

  • Phone Application: To apply for an EIN via phone, call the IRS at their Business & Specialty Tax Line (phone number available on irs.gov). They will guide you through the process and issue an EIN during the call.
  • Mail Application: Download and complete Form SS-4 from the IRS website, and mail it to the designated address found on irs.gov. Note that the processing time for a mailed application is significantly longer, typically taking 4-6 weeks.

Here’s a summary of the three application methods:

Application Method Processing Time Required Information
Online Immediate SSN, ITIN, or EIN
Phone During Call SSN, ITIN, or EIN
Mail 4-6 weeks Form SS-4

Choose the application method that best suits your needs, and ensure that you have all the required information on hand before proceeding.

After Receiving Your EIN

Setting Up Business Accounts

Once you have received your new EIN and the EIN confirmation letter, it is essential to set up various business accounts using this unique business tax ID number. First, open a business bank account with your EIN, which will help separate your personal and business finances. Most banks require the submission of your EIN when opening a new account for your business.

Additionally, consider applying for a business credit card to further establish financial credibility for your company and facilitate the tracking of business expenses. Using your EIN when applying for a business credit card can help build up your company’s credit score and history. This is crucial when you plan to acquire business loans from financial institutions or other lending sources.

Requirement Action Taken
EIN Open a business bank account
EIN Apply for a business credit card
Business Tax ID Seek business loans

Tax Filing and Reporting

Another vital aspect of handling your newly acquired EIN involves tax filing and reporting. As a business owner, you are obligated to file business tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as per the stipulated regulations. Your EIN serves as the identification number required for submitting these tax returns, including various forms for income tax, employment tax, and other applicable taxes.

Make sure to maintain accurate records of your company’s financial transactions and file returns on time to avoid penalties or other non-compliance issues. Additionally, keep the EIN confirmation letter for your future references, as it may be required during tax filing or other legal procedures.

To summarize, after receiving your EIN, follow these steps:

  1. Open a business bank account.
  2. Apply for a business credit card.
  3. Use your EIN for business loans.
  4. File business tax returns.

Special Circumstances

Changes in Business Structure

There are instances when a change in a business structure requires obtaining a new Employer Identification Number (EIN). When a sole proprietorship decides to incorporate or form a partnership, it must apply for a new EIN. Additionally, if a business changes from a partnership to a corporation or a limited liability company (LLC), it will also need to obtain a new EIN.

However, not all changes in business structure necessitate a new EIN. For example, if an LLC with a single member converts to an LLC with multiple members, it can continue using its existing EIN.

Here’s a summary of when to obtain a new EIN based on changes in the business structure:

Original Structure New Structure New EIN Required?
Sole Proprietorship Corporation or LLC Yes
Partnership Corporation or LLC Yes
Corporation or LLC Partnership Yes
Single-Member LLC Multi-Member LLC No

Replacing a Lost EIN

In the event that a business loses or misplaces its EIN, there are ways to retrieve it. One method is to search through the EIN database or financial documents such as tax filings, as the EIN will be listed on those documents. Another option is to contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Business and Specialty Tax line at 800-829-4933 (Monday to Friday) to request the EIN information. Keep in mind confidential information protection; only authorized individuals, such as company officers or designated representatives, can request the lost EIN from the IRS.

Using EINs for Credit and Financing

Securing Business Loans

An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is a unique number assigned by the IRS to businesses for tax reporting and identification purposes. While an EIN is mainly used for tax purposes, it can also be useful when securing business loans and establishing business credit. Securing loans with an EIN helps separate personal credit from business credit, ensuring a clear distinction between the two.

Many lenders offer small business loans to companies that can provide their EIN. However, it’s crucial to note that while some lenders may approve loan applications based on EIN alone, others may still require a personal credit score for approval. The required personal credit score range varies among lenders, but common minimums hover around 600.

When applying for business loans, it is essential to provide accurate financial information and have a solid business plan in place, which can contribute to a quicker and smoother approval process.

Credit Reporting

Establishing and maintaining a business credit report is crucial for any company, particularly when it comes to business financing. Just like a personal credit score, a business credit report represents the creditworthiness of a company, allowing lenders to assess whether a business is a reliable borrower. Using an EIN, you can build and manage a separate credit file for your business, without affecting your personal credit score.

To initiate a business credit report, you’ll need to have your EIN registered with major business credit bureaus, such as Dun & Bradstreet and Experian. Here’s a brief process overview:

  1. Register your EIN with the IRS.
  2. Open a business bank account, using your EIN.
  3. Obtain credit from vendors that report to business credit bureaus.
  4. Make timely payments to establish good credit.

By diligently managing your business finances and making prompt payments, your business can build a strong credit history, which in turn can lead to more favorable loan terms and lower interest rates on future borrowing.

Legal and Regulatory Considerations

IRS Regulations

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has specific regulations in place for businesses to obtain a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN). An EIN, also known as a Federal Tax ID Number, is a unique nine-digit number issued by the IRS for businesses operating in the United States and its territories. It is used for identification purposes, tax filings, and reporting.

To apply for an EIN, businesses need to complete Form SS-4 and provide accurate information, such as the name of the business, the type of organization, tax classification, business address, and contact information. The true principal officer, general partner, grantor, owner, or trustor must also disclose their name and Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN), which can be either a Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

The IRS imposes a daily limitation on EIN issuance, where only one EIN per responsible party can be issued per day. This is to ensure fair and equitable treatment for all taxpayers.

Non-profit organizations should be mindful of their tax-exempt status, as failure to file the required annual returns for three consecutive years will result in automatic revocation of the tax-exempt status by the IRS.

State and Local Compliance

In addition to federal regulations, businesses must also comply with state and local requirements. This often involves obtaining a business license or multiple licenses, depending on the nature of the business and the location. Some states and localities may require specific permits or registrations depending on the business activities.

State taxes can vary based on the state and the type of business. Some states may impose income taxes, sales taxes, or other types of taxes. It is essential for business owners to be aware of their tax obligations and ensure compliance with all applicable rules.

In summary, obtaining and maintaining a valid EIN involves adhering to both federal and state regulations. Businesses must fulfill the requirements set by the Internal Revenue Service, comply with state and local tax laws, and ensure they possess all necessary licenses and permits for operation.

Additional Resources

Professional Assistance

When applying for an EIN, it can be beneficial to seek help from a professional. Accountants and tax professionals have the expertise needed to guide businesses through the process. They can advise on the appropriate time to apply for an EIN and ensure that all necessary documentation is correctly prepared.

Consulting with a professional during a session can save time and potential complications, as they can address specific questions and concerns. Additionally, some businesses may benefit from using an EIN assistant service, which can streamline the application process and provide additional support throughout the setup period.

Governmental Guidance

For governmental resources, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offers numerous tools to assist businesses in obtaining their EIN. One effective method is to call the IRS directly at their Business and Specialty Tax line (800-829-4933). They can provide guidance and answer questions regarding the application process, available Monday through Friday.

The IRS also offers an online EIN application service, which is free of charge and can supply businesses with their EIN immediately upon completion.

To further aid in understanding EIN requirements and procedures, here are some useful resources provided by the IRS:

By consulting both professional and governmental resources, businesses can efficiently navigate the process of obtaining an EIN, ensuring compliance with tax laws and requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I obtain an EIN for my business?

To obtain an EIN for your business, you can apply online by visiting the IRS website. The process is free and straightforward, and you will receive your number upon completion. Alternatively, you can apply by mail, fax, or phone. For international applicants, you can call 267-941-1099 (not a toll-free number) on weekdays during specified hours.

What is the process to verify an existing EIN?

To verify an existing EIN, you can contact the IRS directly by calling their Business and Specialty Tax line at 800-829-4933 during regular business hours, Monday through Friday. Please note that you must be authorized to inquire about the EIN and answer specific questions related to the company.

How do I locate my previously issued EIN?

If you have misplaced your previously issued EIN, you can find it on official IRS documents such as past tax returns. If you still cannot locate the number, you can call the IRS Business and Specialty Tax line at 800-829-4933 for assistance.

In what scenarios is it mandatory to have an EIN?

An EIN is necessary for most businesses, including those with employees, corporations, partnerships, and certain trusts and estates. Additionally, an EIN is required for opening a business bank account, applying for business licenses, and filing tax returns.

What is the method to look up another company’s EIN?

Looking up another company’s EIN may be possible through public records, such as filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission for publicly traded companies. However, it can be challenging to find the EIN of private companies, as this information is generally not publicly available.

Can you explain the significance of possessing an EIN?

Possessing an EIN is crucial for businesses as it allows the IRS to identify a business for tax reporting purposes. It also enables a company to establish its legal business identity, open bank accounts, apply for loans, and obtain required permits or licenses. Overall, an EIN serves as an essential identification number for all business-related activities, ensuring compliance with tax laws and supporting business operations.