What is an EIN and Why Get One?
EIN stands for Employer Identification Number and it’s a 9-digit code that identifies your business as a legally operating entity. Basically, an EIN is like a social security number for a business. That’s really all there is to it. You and the IRS will heavily rely on this number throughout each tax year you’re in business.
Filing Fee: $0
EINs are sometimes called Federal Identification Numbers or FEINs.
Do I Need an EIN?
This is a common question. First, do you have employees on the payroll? Are you going to be operating an LLC, corporation, nonprofit, or partnership of some kind? Even current businesses that are changing their structure, or sole proprietors facing bankruptcy are required to obtain a new EIN.
Trusts, estates, farmer’s cooperatives…there’s a lot of reasons to have a federal tax identification number. If for some reason you aren’t quite sure, either contact a business attorney or the IRS directly.
EIN Application Options
There are several ways to obtain an EIN, but keep in mind you can only file using one of these methods, not multiple.
The easiest and quickest way to obtain an EIN is through Online EIN Application, if your, “Principal business, office or agency, or legal residence (in the case of an individual), is located in the United States or U.S. Territories.” To apply for an EIN online, head to the IRS website and fill out the application form. Make sure to complete all necessary entries correctly then submit it.
After your application has been validated, you’ll immediately receive your EIN.
There’s a fair amount of questions people ask about the online process, for example how long after submission can you use your EIN to make payments or file a return? Answer: instantly. Visit the Online EIN: Frequently Asked Questions page on IRS.gov for more.
Faxing your EIN application is also an option. First off, you need to download the SS-4 Form and fill it out. Afterwards, you can fax the form to one of These Fax Numbers. When you send in your form, make sure to include your fax number as well so your EIN can be sent to you.
Note: It takes 4 business days to wait for an EIN through fax application.
For US taxpayers/residents who prefer to complete an EIN application by phone, call the IRS toll-free number at 1-800-829-4933. Make sure you have all the necessary information on your business because you’re going to be asked about it more than once throughout the call.
Note: You can call between 7:00 AM and 10:00 PM (Eastern). As soon as the call ends, you’ll have your EIN.
For postal mail EIN application, fill out your SS-4 form, double check it, and send it to this address:
Internal Revenue Service Center
Attn: EIN International Operation
Cincinnati, OH 45999
Keep in mind because we’re talking about the mail, this method comes with a 4-week turnaround time (longer if you made any mistakes on the form). IF all goes well, once processed you’ll get an EIN and the IRS will mail you evidence.
Disclaimer: this article is an informational guide only and shouldn't be taken as legal advice, nor is it a substitute for a legal professional. Refer to your lawyer for taxation and legal questions or if you're confused about the process of starting a business.