Now that you've decided that your business needs an Employer Identification Number (EIN), you need to know how to get one. You will need to file an SS-4 form with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Fortunately, obtaining an EIN will be one of your easier dealings with the IRS.
What is an EIN?
An Employer Identification Number is required for certain types of businesses and other entities in order to file certain forms with the IRS. It does not only apply to employers, which is why it is also referred to as a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) or Tax ID Number, although this is a general term that refers to various types of numbers used on tax forms.
A Social Security number, Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, and Employer Identification Number are all TINs. An EIN number has nine digits, the same as a Social Security number, but uses one dash instead of two, such as: 66-6666666.
What is an SS-4 and how do I obtain one?
The IRS Form SS-4, Application for Employer Identification Number (EIN), is the form you file with the IRS to request an Employer Identification Number. There are three ways to obtain an SS-4 form from the IRS. The form can be obtained from the IRS website, from your local IRS office, or by mail. Other possible places to obtain an SS-4 form are your local library or from various websites.
What information is required for an SS-4?
Form SS-4 is relatively simple. You will need the following information to complete the form:
- The legal name of your business
- The trade name of your business, if you will use one that is different from the legal name
- An “in care of" person, if you wish to designate someone to receive tax information
- The mailing and street addresses of the business
- The county and state where the principal place of business is located
- The responsible party; this is typically the owner, a general partner, or principal officer
- The Social Security Number, Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or EIN of the responsible party
In addition, you will need to answer various other questions about your business, such as the type of business entity (e.g., sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, corporation), the date your business began or was acquired, information about expected employees, and your principal business activity.
How do I file an SS-4?
There are three ways to file an SS-4 form with the IRS: online, by fax, or by mail. Even if you file your form by fax or mail, you should consult the IRS website to be sure you are sending it to the correct fax number or address, as these may change over time.
- Filing online. You can complete the form and file it online at the IRS website. This will enable you to get you your EIN number immediately.
- Filing by fax. If you file by fax, you will get your number in about four business days. If your principal place of business or legal residence is in one of the 50 states or the District of Columbia, fax your SS-4 to: 855-641-6935. If your principal place of business and your residence is outside of the U.S., fax it to: From the U.S.: 855-215-1627; From outside of the U.S.: 304-707-9471. Be sure to check the most current version of the IRS Instructions for Form SS-4, and the most current version of the SS-4 form itself, to be sure you have the most current information.
- Filing by mail. If you file by mail, it will take about four weeks to get your number. Mail your Form SS-4 to: Internal Revenue Service, Attn: EIN Operation, Cincinnati, OH 45999. But again, check the current version of the IRS Instructions for Form SS-4, and the SS-4 form itself, to be sure you have the most current information.
For more information
If you require any more information about completing Form SS-4, including whether you need an EIN, you should consult the following IRS documents, available at the IRS website:
- Form SS-4
- Instructions for Form SS-4
- IRS Publication 1635, Employer Identification Number: Understanding Your EIN