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How Do I Find an EIN?

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How Do I Find an EIN?

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: August 26, 2010 Updated: January 28, 2015

No doubt, there are probably quite a few regulatory and administrative items on your new business checklist – getting a permit, registering your business name and more (check out these 10 steps to starting a business for a useful reference point).

One of the key requirements for most new businesses (or businesses that are restructuring) is obtaining an Employer Identification Number, or EIN, from the IRS.

Here’s what you need to know about EINs and how to go about getting one for your business.

What is an EIN?

An EIN is a unique nine-digit number that identifies your business for tax purposes. Think of it as the business equivalent of a social security number (although it shouldn’t be used in place of it).

As a business owner, you’ll need an EIN to open a business bank account, apply for business licenses and file your tax returns. It’s a good idea to apply for one as soon as you start planning your business. This will ensure there are no delays in getting the appropriate licenses or financing that you need to operate.

Who needs an EIN?

An EIN is needed by any business that retains employees. However, non-employers are also required to obtain one if they operate as a corporation or partnership.

Not sure whether you need an EIN? Check out this guide from the IRS. Answering yes to any of the questions in the list means you need one for your business.

Other quirky rules apply, particularly as your business grows, so be sure to check out this guide from the IRS – Understanding Your EIN – for a complete breakdown of the nuances of who needs an EIN.

How to apply for an EIN

The easiest way to apply for your EIN is online via the IRS EIN Assistant. As soon as your application is complete and validated, you’ll be issued an EIN. There is no charge for this service (beware of Internet scams that will try to sell you their EIN application services).

You can also apply by fax or mail using Form SS-4 and sending it to this address. If you are overseas, you can call 267-941-1099, 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday.

Read more about How to Apply for an EIN and How Long Will it Take to Get an EIN?

Changing your business structure? Get a new EIN

As your business grows and matures, you may choose to change its legal or ownership structure. For example, a sole proprietor may decide to incorporate or a partnership may be taken over by one of the partners and is operated as a sole proprietorship. In instances such as these, your business will need a new EIN.

There are other scenarios that require a new EIN, such as bankruptcy, a change in a corporation’s name or location and reorganization of a corporation. Check out Do You Need a New EIN? for a complete guide by business structure.

Using your EIN to make tax deposits

If you have employees, you will have been automatically enrolled in the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) when you applied for your EIN. This allows you to make tax deposits, including estimated taxes and federal employment and corporate taxes, online or by phone.

Lost your EIN?

If you lost or misplaced your EIN, you can retrieve it in the following ways:

  • Reference the original notice issued by the IRS when you received your EIN or call the IRS Business & Specialty Tax Line at 800-829-4933.
  • If you used it to open a bank account or get a license, contact these organizations they should be able to retrieve your number.
  • Find an old tax return. Your EIN should be on it.

Additional resources

About the Author:

Caron_Beesley
Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

Comments:

when do and how do you answer the question
I need my child's previous childcare provider's EIN number and was given one only 7 numbers long. Is there a way for patrons, and not the business owner, to look up EIN numbers for tax filing purposes?
when do you answer this question?
I have apparently gotten an EIN at sometime in my life, I'm guessing when I got my CNA License through the state of MO. I was issued one. Only nobody ever told me I had one. Recently I went to apply for one and it says that I already have one issued to my social security number. The part of the IRS I'm needing to contact is shut down, I've contacted everyone I can think of to try and get this number that I desperately need. How else can I find my number?
FYI in most states you need an EIN before you can setup a corporation or LLC etc. 

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