Many people know what a Social Security Number (SSN) is but may not be familiar with an EIN. An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number and it’s used to identify a business entity. Generally, businesses need an EIN. The IRS uses the number to identify taxpayers that are required to file various business tax returns. EINs are used by employers, sole proprietors, corporations, partnerships, non-profit associations, trusts, estates of decedents, government agencies, certain individuals, and other business entities.
An EIN It is a nine-digit number that is unique to every business. Many banks also require an EIN before businesses can apply for business accounts and establish lines of credit, which can be essential for startups. EINs help to legitimize businesses in the eyes of institutions that want to verify them, so the EIN becomes the business’s ID. Typically, getting an EIN is one of the first steps when starting a business.
How do you know if your business needs an EIN?
Determine your eligibility:
- You may apply for an EIN online if your principal business is located in the United States or U.S. Territories.
- The person applying online must have a valid Taxpayer Identification Number (SSN, ITIN, EIN).
- You are limited to one EIN per responsible party per day.
- The “responsible party” is the person who ultimately owns or controls the entity or who exercises ultimate effective control over the entity. Unless the applicant is a government entity, the responsible party must be an individual (i.e., a natural person), not an entity.
Take a look and complete this questionnaire from the IRS to help you determine your eligibility.
How do you apply for an EIN?
Apply for an EIN online:
- You must complete the application in one session, as you will not be able to save and return at a later time.
- Your session will expire after 15 minutes of inactivity, and you will need to start over.
- When you’re ready to apply for your EIN go to the online application from the IRS
- After all validations are done you will get your EIN immediately upon completion. You can then download, save, and print your EIN confirmation notice.
Apply for an EIN via mail or fax:
- You can apply for an EIN by filling the application (Form SS-4) found here.
- The IRS has a useful, readable, and specific instructions sheet full of help.
Once Form SS-4 is completed, it must be mailed to the appropriate location or faxed to the appropriate fax number. The quickest way to receive an EIN by fax is to include a fax number in the application where the IRS can send the EIN. To find out where to send or fax the form, this instructions sheet provides that information on the second page.
It takes the IRS about 4 business days to send the EIN if Form SS-4 is faxed. However, it can take about 4 weeks to receive an EIN if Form SS-4 is mailed.