Employer Identification Numbers: What is an EIN and How to Get One

An Employer Identification Number, also known as an EIN or FEIN, is a 9-digit number that identifies your business with the IRS. It is basically your business’ social security number, and all businesses need one. The EIN helps the IRS track wages and identify your business tax account. 

Follow this handy checklist to get your EIN today:

EIN checklist if you have a Social Security Number:

 Go to IRS.gov and select “Apply for EIN Online

 Have this company information ready:

  • The business name
  • When your business’ fiscal year ends
  • The SSN of the “responsible individual”
  • Both physical and mailing addresses for the business
  • Specific information for a few other preliminary tax questions

 When you’ve completed the form you will receive your EIN instantly

EIN checklist if you do not have a Social Security Number:

 Go to IRS.gov

 Select SS-4 on the left hand side under “Forms and Pubs”

 Have this company information ready:

  • The business name
  • When your business’ fiscal year ends
  • The SSN of the “responsible individual”
  • Both physical and mailing addresses for the business
  • Specific information for a few other preliminary tax questions

 Submit to the IRS and they will fax you back an EIN

How do I know whether or not my business needs an EIN?

  • If you want to open a bank account for your business
  • If you have employees
  • If you operate your business as a corporation or partnership
  • If you file Employment, Excise, Alcohol, Tobacco or Firearms tax returns (the EIN is required on tax forms)
  • If you withhold taxes on income (other than wages) paid to a non-resident alien
  • If you have a Keogh plan

If you are involved with any of the following types of organizations:
-Trusts, except certain grantor-owned revocable trusts, IRAs, Exempt Organization Business   

About the Author

Drake Forester, Chief Legal Strategiest - Northwest Registered AgentDrake Forester is the chief legal strategist at Northwest Registered Agent, LLC. Throughout his career, Drake has researched many complicated nonprofit compliance issues and provided whitepaper and publications for many leading nonprofit organizations in the United States.