How to apply for an EIN

Most business owners and sole traders will need an EIN, or Employer Identification Number, for tax purposes. If your business has employees, operates as a corporation or partnership, has a Keogh plan, or has links to organizations such as estates or non-profit organizations, your business will likely need an EIN. An EIN is a unique nine-digit number that is used to monitor your business activity, provide information about assets, liabilities, and trading status, and is also used for tax filing purposes. Fortunately, applying for an EIN is relatively simple.

If you're a sole trader or household employer who already has an EIN, you won't need to apply for an EIN, but can continue to use your existing EIN. If you don't know your EIN, you'll need to perform an EIN lookup in order to source your EIN. An EIN lookup search can be performed in a number of ways: you can perform an EIN lookup over the phone, by looking through your old tax documents, or by using an online EIN lookup service such as the EDGAR database.

If you do not yet have an EIN, you'll need to apply for one. The simplest way to apply for an EIN is to use the Internet EIN application form on the IRS website. Applying for your EIN online has instantaneous results, and you'll receive your EIN once you've provided the required information, such as proof of residency and a valid taxpayer identification number.

Other ways of applying for an EIN online including using the Business and Specialty Tax Line during work hours. Once you've provided the required information to the operator, you'll be assigned an EIN, and your EIN will be relayed to you over the telephone. An EIN can also be applied for via fax by completing and faxing in an SS-4 form. This process typically takes four business days. You can also apply for an EIN through the post by completing and posting an SS-4 form. Obtaining your EIN through this process usually takes four weeks.

Once you've applied for your EIN, you should note down your EIN and begin using it in all of your business correspondence. Because other people, such as employees, donors, and related organizations, will need access to your EIN, it can be helpful to ensure that it is readily available for your employees or trading partners. You'll need to place your EIN in your invoices, as well as any reports and filings sent to the SEC, but it can also be helpful to post your EIN on your website, too. This will help save you time when those undertaking an EIN lookup for your company attempt to contact you for your EIN details.

Applying for an EIN is relatively simple, and is typically quick and easy. If you suspect that you already have an EIN, call up the IRS, or perform an EIN lookup to confirm this before applying for a new EIN.