EIN: What is it?

EIN is an Employer Identification Number that serves as your business’ social security number. It is a unique 9-digit number that your business will use for all federal and state tax filings. This number is permanent throughout the life of the business unless ownership or legal structure is changed.

The EIN may also be required to:

  • Open a business checking account

  • Acquire a line of credit or other funding

  • Create accounts with various vendors

Depending on the form you are completing, an EIN may be referred to as the Tax Identification Number (TIN) or the Federal Employee Identification Number (FEIN) but they are the same number.

Do you need an EIN?

The primary businesses that require an EIN are:

  • All Corporations

  • Limited Liability Companies with more than one member

  • All businesses with employees, including sole proprietorships and LLCs with one member

  • Any business when the owner has a Keogh (retirement) plan.

  • Any business that files Employment, Excise, or Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms tax returns.

If any of these situations fit your business, you must apply for an EIN.

Applying for an EIN

This is a free service offered by the Internal Revenue Service. You can apply online or by fax or mail with Form SS-4. This one page form requires specific information that includes:

  • Legal Name of the business

  • Trade Name of the business, if different

  • Mailing Address and Street Address (if different)

  • County and State where principal business is located

  • Name of the Responsible Party and their SSN, ITIN or EIN

  • Whether the company is an LLC and number of members

  • Type of Entity

  • Reason for Applying

  • Number of Employees

  • Type of Business

The Responsible Party is someone who is active in the business such as an owner or partner. There is a Third Party Designee section of the application but it is rarely used unless you own more than one business or have someone else operating the company.

The IRS prefers online EIN applications over all other forms and you will receive your number immediately.