Find an EIN: Everything You Need to Know
To find an EIN, or an employer identification number, is to find the number that identifies a business to the IRS and is used to track that business’s financial data. 3 min read
Find an EIN
To find an EIN, or an employer identification number, is to find the number that identifies a business to the IRS and is used to track that business’s financial data. This number functions in the same way that a Social Security Number functions to identify an individual, although not all businesses are required to have an EIN, and an EIN, unlike a Social Security Number, can change. In order to find an EIN for a business, there are a number of routes that one may take.
Finding Your Own EIN
If you forgot or misplaced your EIN, possible ways to find it include:
- Finding your last tax return, on which your EIN will be listed.
- Finding your original EIN assignment notice from the IRS.
- Contacting your bank. If your EIN was used with your business bank account, your bank will have your EIN on file.
- Contacting the IRS. If you cannot find your EIN by other means, you can contact the IRS by phone, although you will have to be able to prove your identity to them, so this could take longer.
Finding Another Business’s EIN
If you find that you have a legitimate business needing to know the EIN of another business, there are a number of ways you may do this, including:
- Contacting the business. Unlike a Social Security Number, an EIN is not private, sensitive information. That said, a company may be reluctant to reveal such information over the phone and want to know your reason for desiring the information or want you to prove your identity. Also, some sole proprietorships and single-member LLCs are not required to obtain an EIN.
- Using the SEC’s database. Any business that is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission must provide their EIN in their paperwork. The SEC’s Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval (EDGAR) system will have the company’s EIN on file, along with other information. This system is free to use and open to the public. The greatest challenge with it may simply be combing through all the documents on file in order to find the EIN.
- Searching the public record. If the company is not registered with the SEC, the public record may be searched through the local county or city files. If a business had to apply for a license, the EIN mightbe listed in the public record.
- Searching nonprofit databases. If the EIN you are searching for belongs to a nonprofit organization, several free databases will list the EIN. One is the IRS’s tax-exempt group search engine, which will list the EIN of nonprofits that registered for tax-exempt status. Another is GuideStar, which tracks nonprofit organization’s financial information. GuideStar maintains an index of IRS form 990, on which nonprofits must record their EIN.
- Check invoices. If a company is not listed in any of the above databases, obtaining a client invoice may yield the desired information, as companies usually list this to help clients and contractors in completing Form 1099 of their tax return.
The EIN and Personal Taxes
An EIN can be helpful in filling out your W2 form for the IRS. If you use tax preparing services to file your taxes, the EIN will help them identify the easiest way to enter your W2, and the EIN may be necessary for e-filing. The EIN can usually be found in box b of your W2 form, right below or above the address and name of your employer. It will be nine digits long, with a dash between the second and third digit. It should not be confused with your employee number or your employer’s state ID number.
The company you work for is required to give you their EIN for your W2 form, and this form must be mailed to you by January 31st. If you have not received your W2 by February 14th, the IRS recommends you take action. You can contact your employer for this information, but they may be reluctant to disclose it over the phone. If you can gain no information concerning your employer’s EIN by any means, you should contact the IRS at 800-829-1040.
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