How to Get an EIN

By Barry Solomon , last updated November 30, 2011

If you are an owner of a business that employs workers or that sells products and/or services that require you to collect and/or pay taxes, you will need to get an EIN. An EIN is your Employer Identification Number, which is your business' unique tax identification number. And fortunately, getting an EIN is very easy. You can secure it online, by going to your local IRS office or by getting it from the IRS over the telephone.

The easiest way to secure your EIN is to apply online. The IRS makes this feature available seven days a week. Check their website for times. If you are applying for multiple EIN's, be aware that the IRS limits the number to no more than five a day per party. The process begins by reading the rules to determine whether you even need an EIN or a new EIN for an existing business. Once you have determined that you should apply, then you can go ahead and do so. You must complete the application process in a single online session and you may not be inactive for more than 15 minutes during the application process or it will erase what you have done and default you back to the beginning of the application. You will be given your EIN immediately upon confirmation of the details of your application. You will need to have Adobe Reader in order to receive an online letter of confirmation. If you are using a third party to complete the application, then there must be a formal authorization of that third party by the taxpayer. Your business must be located within the United States or its territories.

You will begin by identifying the legal form of your business. Next you will authenticate this information and then provide addresses for the company, for service of process, and for the key individuals. Afterwards you will provide some details about the business and then move on to EIN confirmation. Provided that you have your information ready, the entire process should not take more than about fifteen minutes to complete.

If you are not comfortable with applying over the Internet, you can also file your application over the telephone by calling the IRS Business and Specialty Tax Hotline at 800-829-4933. They will take your information over the phone and walk you through the entire process. Make sure to have the basic information required by IRS form SS-4 available to you before you call. The alternative is to go down to your local IRS office and sit with an advisor and fill out the SS-4 form in person.

The SS-4 requires the legal name of your business entity, along with basic demographic data including the address and name of the principal officer or owner. It asks the type of entity, the state or location of incorporation, your reason for applying for an EIN, the date the business was first started, and the closing month of your accounting year. It asks the nature of your business, the first date ages or annuities were paid or will be paid, a projection of the highest number of employees you will have in the next 12 month, the principal line of merchandise sold or services provided, and whether you have ever applied before.

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A Federal Tax Identification Number, also known as an Employer Identification Number (EIN), is a nine-digit identification number that the Internal Revenue Service ...
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