An employer identification number (EIN) is a nine-digit number assigned by the IRS. It's used to identify the tax accounts of employers and certain others who have no employees. The IRS uses the number to identify taxpayers who are required to file various business tax returns.
An EIN identifies tax returns filed with the IRS and, as a business owner, you may be required to get an EIN. Here's the examples when you might need an EIN.
If you pay wages, have a self-employed retirement plan, operate your business as a partnership or corporation, or are required to file any of these tax returns (employment, excise, fiduciary, or alcohol, tobacco, and firearms), you'll need an EIN.
You may need an EIN if your company is dealing with other companies, such as banks, that demand an EIN in order to set up company accounts.
If you encounter a website that says they will charge you for setting up an EIN number, RUN AWAY! The section below describes the various ways to work with the IRS to secure an EIN number for your business.
There's a few options to apply for an EIN number using forms supplied by the IRS. The following options are from the IRS on (9/1/2021).
The Internet EIN application is the preferred method for customers to apply for and obtain an EIN. Once the application is completed, the information is validated during the online session, and an EIN is issued immediately. The online application process is available for all entities whose principal business, office or agency, or legal residence (in the case of an individual), is located in the United States or U.S. Territories.
Taxpayers can fax the completed Form SS-4 application to the appropriate fax number (see Where to File Your Taxes (for Form SS-4)), after ensuring that the Form SS-4 contains all of the required information. If it is determined that the entity needs a new EIN, one will be assigned using the appropriate procedures for the entity type. If the taxpayer's fax number is provided, a fax will be sent back with the EIN within four (4) business days.
The processing timeframe for an EIN application received by mail is four weeks. Ensure that the Form SS-4 contains all of the required information. If it is determined that the entity needs a new EIN, one will be assigned using the appropriate procedures for the entity type and mailed to the taxpayer. Find out where to mail Form SS-4 on the Where to File Your Taxes (for Form SS-4) page.
International applicants may call 267-941-1099 (not a toll-free number) 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday to obtain their EIN. The person making the call must be authorized to receive the EIN and answer questions concerning the Form SS-4, Application for Employer Identification Number. Complete the Third Party Designee section only if you want to authorize the named individual to receive the entity’s EIN and answer questions about the completion of Form SS-4. The designee’s authority terminates at the time the EIN is assigned and released to the designee. You must complete the signature area for the authorization to be valid.