If you’re thinking about starting your own business, you may have heard you need an Employer Identification Number (EIN). An EIN is a Federal Tax Identification Number for businesses, similar to a Social Security number for individuals. Not all businesses are required to get an EIN, but if your business needs one, there are several different ways you can apply.
When Do You Need an EIN?
Some businesses don’t require an EIN. But if any of the following apply to your organization, you’ll need to get an EIN. You’ll also want to double check with your state to see if you also need a state ID:
- If you have employees
- If the business is a partnership or corporation
- If you file Employment, Tobacco, Excise, Alcohol, or Firearms tax returns
- If you withhold taxes on income, other than wages, that are paid to a non-resident alien?
- If your business is a non-profit organization
- If you have a Keogh plan
If your business is involved in any of the following, you will need to get an EIN:
- Business income tax returns
- Farmers’ cooperatives
- Real estate mortgage investment conduits
How to Apply For an EIN
If you determine your business needs an EIN, you can apply for your ID number for free through the Internal Revenue Service. You can apply online, over the phone, by fax, or through the mail.
Apply for an EIN Online: when you fill out the online EIN application, your information is validated and an EIN is issued immediately. To apply online, you must have either a Social Security number or an Individual Taxpayer Identification number.
Apply by Phone: you can apply for your EIN by phone, by calling (800) 829-4933 between the hours of 7 am and 10 pm, Monday through Friday.
Apply by FAX: print out IRS Form SS-4 and send to the FAX number listed for your state. Include a return fax number and you will receive a return facsimile within four business days containing your EIN.
Apply by Mail: if you’re not in a hurry and prefer to conduct your business via the US Postal Service, fill out IRS Form SS-4 and mail it to the location specified. You will receive your EIN in about four weeks.