employer identification number lookup

How to Find Your EIN | Employer Identification Number Lookup

Right now is one of the best times to start a business. Some of the best businesses have started during times of economic disruptions. As more and more business owners decide to venture out on their own, one of the biggest items on their administrative checklist will be getting an EIN or an Employer Identification Number. 

It’s important to understand why an EIN is so important to have, even if you may not be required to have one. Then it’s important to understand if you already have one and how to get one if you don’t. Finally, you may have wrapped up an old business but may still need to handle documentation around the active EIN. Below we explore EIN further in-depth in all these regards. 

What is an EIN, Employer Identification Number?

An EIN, or an Employer Identification Number, is a 9-digit number issued by the Internal Revenue Service that serves as an identifier of a business. Very much like what a social security number is for individuals. This can be used to submit all forms of tax filings at the federal and state level.

Not all business businesses would need an EIN. For example, an individual that is a sole proprietor can simply use his or her social security number in place of an EIN.

Why do I need an EIN?

Although not all businesses may need an EIN, there are certain types of businesses for which it is a requirement. Below are some examples of businesses that will be required to have their own EIN.

  • A business that is hiring employees
  • A business that is acquiring another business
  • A business that is incorporated
  • A business that is an LLC with more than one member
  • A business that has set up or a 401k or Keogh plan

Another point to keep in mind is that an EIN is meant to be public information, a social security number is not. Considering that, many businesses simply apply for an EIN to not have to continually furnish their social security number for business purposes. 

How is an EIN different from a TIN?

An EIN is not the same as a TIN. An EIN is one form of TIN. A TIN, or a Taxpayer Identification Number, is a blanket term that is an application for different numbers used for identification purposes by the IRS. These numbers include;

SSN (Social Security Number) – An identifier used by the IRS for individuals 

EIN (Employer Identification Number) – An identifier used by the IRS for businesses 

ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) – An identifier used by the IRS for non-U.S. citizens or legal residents.

Does my business already have an EIN?

Your business may already have an EIN. Your accountant or lawyer, who assisted in the registration of the business may have preemptively applied for an EIN. The EIN can be found on any one of the below-listed documents.

  • A business credit report
  • The tax returns for a business
  • Any payroll tax forms submitted at the State or Federal level
  • Computer-generated receipts included in the company filing business registration documentation 

If you’re still not able to locate an EIN, you can call the below organizations for additional help

  • The IRS Business & Specialty Tax Line to help identify it
  • Your lawyer who may have filed the business registration documents.
  • Your accountant who files the business taxes
  • A credit agency from which a credit report may have been requested
  • Your bank, if you’ve applied for a loan or have a business account with them.
  • Your payroll service which may file state and federal payroll tax filings on your behalf.

How do I get one?

Getting an EIN is a very straightforward and quick process. The application can be made by completing the Form SS-4 and faxing it in. Where businesses would need to fax it in is depending on the place of business or legal residence.

With a place of business or legal residence in the US: (855) 641-6935

With no place of business or legal residence in the US:

Fax: (855) 215-1627 (Application from within the U.S.)

Fax: (304) 707-9471 (Application from outside the U.S.)

There is the preferred option of filing the Online EIN Application through the IRS website

Business owners can even apply for an EIN by simply calling the IRS Business & Specialty Tax Line at (800) 829-4933 between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, from Monday to Friday.

Finally, there is also the option to mail in the application depending on the place of business or legal residence.

With a place of business or legal residence in the US: 

Internal Revenue Service

Attn: EIN Operation

Cincinnati, OH 45999

Fax: (855) 641-6935

With no place of business or legal residence in the US: 

Internal Revenue Service

Attn: EIN International Operation

Cincinnati, OH 45999

What do I do with the EIN if my business no longer exists?

An EIN is noncancelable. Just because a business no longer exists does not mean the EIN will also cease to exist. The IRS will always keep a record of a business formed, and an EIN granted to identify it. 

However, if a business was closed out, the IRS should be notified of that fact so that they can record the closure of that business account in their database. The business owner would simply need to inform the IRS in writing of the conclusion of the business, sharing the business name, the address, and the EIN issued, as well as the EIN Assignment Notice for good measure. 

The current times are very opportune for entrepreneurs to set up new businesses. However, there are some administrative requirements all owners must fulfill, such as getting an Employer Identification Number. Many businesses that may not be legally required to get an EIN can still find it useful to have one. There are easy ways to check if your business may already have an EIN or get one if you do not. There are specific regulatory tasks to complete regarding an already issued EIN if your business is wrapping up that is important to complete as well.

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