An Employer Identification Number is a nine-digit number assigned to businesses by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Similar to Social Security numbers, EINs are used by the IRS to identify taxpayers that are required to file business tax returns.
Why Would I Need an EIN?
There are a number of business activities that you cannot engage in without an Employer Identification Number. Below are the most common business activities that require an EIN:
- Hiring employees
- Operating a business like a corporation or partnership
- Filing an employment, excise, alcohol, tobacco, or firearms tax return
- Opening a business bank account
- Acquiring a business credit card
Even if you’re operating a single-member LLC that does not engage in any of these activities, you may still want to get an EIN to avoid using your personal Social Security number. Acquiring an EIN allows you to keep your Social Security number private.
How Do I Acquire an EIN?
If you would like to obtain an EIN for your business, you can do so for free on the IRS website. You will need to include several specific pieces of information, including the following:
- Your company’s legal name
- Physical address of your business
- Name and Social Security number of the responsible party
- Number of members (if an LLC)
- Reason for acquiring an EIN
- Date and location of the company’s formation
- Number of employees
- Nature of business
If you’re an American, you can acquire your EIN online, via fax, or by mail. For international applicants, an EIN can be obtained over the phone.
Another option is to have a business services provider acquire your EIN for you, in exchange for a small fee. If you are interested in this option, there are plenty of services available.
As you can see, the vast majority of LLCs, corporations, and partnerships will require an EIN. Even if you run a one-person company that doesn’t require any of the business services discussed earlier, an EIN is still a smart acquisition for privacy reasons.
Since the process to acquire an EIN is simple and free, doing so makes sense for just about any business.
Ready to get an ein?
If you’re ready to acquire an EIN for your company, visit the IRS website to get started.