Updated August 18, 2020: 

Need to know how to find a state tax ID number for a company? Most types of business entities must have an employer identification number (EIN) in order to open a bank account, receive a business license, file taxes, or apply for a loan. This EIN, also known as a business tax ID number or federal tax ID number, is a nine-digit number that the IRS uses to identify a business.

Whether or not your company employs workers, you'll probably need this number for federal tax filing purposes. However, not every company needs an EIN. In some instances, a sole proprietor without any employees can simply use their own social security number.

Some states may require your business to have an EIN prior to completing state tax forms or registering your company within the state. In addition to tax filing, the EIN is used to identify a business in order to process a business license or satisfy other state requirements. For example, California State requires most businesses to have an EIN prior to registering state payroll taxes.

Which States Do Not Require EINs?

Some states do not collect personal income tax, and as a result, do not require an EIN. These states are:

  • Washington.
  • Tennessee.
  • Alaska.
  • Florida.
  • Nevada.
  • Texas.
  • New Hampshire.
  • Wyoming.
  • South Dakota.

When Will I Need My Company's EIN?

There are many situations in which you'll need to provide your company's EIN, including:

  • Processing a company tax payment.
  • Filing a company tax return.
  • Opening a company bank account.
  • Applying for a company loan or credit card.
  • Processing tax forms to independent contractors (Form 1099).

How Do I Find an EIN?

For a company, an EIN is similar to a social security number for an individual. As such, most companies keep their tax ID numbers private, so you probably won't find it published on the company's website. However, many documents require the number. If you're an employee of a company, look in box B on your W-2 statement. If you're an independent contractor, you can find this number in the Payer's Federal Identification Number box on Form 1099.

If you're an employee of a company and have been unable to find your company's EIN, you may call or e-mail the Department of Revenue for your state. You'll need to provide your employer's legal company name and any additional required information.

If you have a valid reason to know a business's EIN, you can simply call the business and ask for it. If you are dealing with a small company, you can speak with the company owner or your usual contact person. If you are dealing with a large company, get in touch with the accounts payable department if you need to send an invoice. If you've received an invoice from a company, contact that company's accounts receivable department. This is usually the contact person whose name is printed on the invoice.

If you are providing a product or service to another company and would like to know whether that company qualifies for tax exemption, you can ask your customer for the number. In some situations, this number will appear on a state-issued certificate.

Another option is the Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval Database, or EDGAR. This free search tool is provided by the Securities and Exchange Commission and is available to the public. You can enter a business name and look up all the associated paperwork. Many of these documents include the business's EIN. However, the Securities and Exchange Commission only deals with publicly traded companies that sell stock on an exchange. Thus, information regarding privately held companies is not available on EDGAR.

How Do I Recover a Lost EIN?

Companies will keep the same EIN so long as their firm is open unless they reorganize and apply for a new number. You can recover a misplaced or lost EIN by looking up the number on your computer-generated IRS notice associated with the ID number assignment.

If you are unable to use that original paperwork, contact your bank or credit union. These institutions keep your company's EIN on file with the rest of your account information.

If these options are unavailable, you can contact the IRS Business and Specialty Tax Line. You'll need to provide personal information in order to confirm your identity before the department will provide the EIN.

If you need help understanding how to find a state tax ID number for a company, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.