If you’re a small business owner, you’ll probably need an employer identification number — also known as an EIN or a federal tax ID — at some point. An EIN is a unique nine-digit number issued to your company by the IRS for business and identification purposes.
Do you really need an EIN for your biz, though? What’s it even for? And how do you get one? We answer all these questions for you below!
An EIN is used to identify your business, much like your Social Security number can be used to identify you. An EIN is also required for business banking. If you open a new line of credit or open a business bank account (which is a super important legal step when starting a business) your bank will usually ask for an EIN.
You’ll also need an EIN to file for a new LLC. Before you pick a business address and after you choose your LLC name, you’ll need an EIN to complete your LLC form.
If you don’t have an EIN, you’ll probably have to provide your Social Security number instead as a form of identification. So even if you don’treallyneed an EIN — more on that in a minute — it’s a good idea to have one to keep your Social Security number private.
According to the IRS, if you answer “Yes” to any of the following questions, you need an EIN:
If you don’t remember your existing EIN or whether you’ve gotten one already, you can:
Ready to get your EIN? You’ll need the following bits of information, which you can find by looking over Form SS-4: Application for Employer Identification Number:
Once you have Form SS-4 filled out, you have a few options for filing your application.
Applying online is the easiest and most convenient way to get your EIN. The information you submit is validated while you’re applying, and an EIN is issued to you immediately.
Need to fax your Form SS-4 instead? You’ll fax it to one of two addresses based on your information. You’ll then receive a fax back with your new EIN within four business days.
If you’re mailing your EIN application, you’ll send it to one of the two aforementioned addresses based on your business info. Your new EIN will be mailed back to you within four weeks.
If you’re not based in the United States, you can call 267-941-1099 (not a toll-free number) 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday, to apply. You’ll answer questions about Form SS-4 in order to get an EIN.
You should apply for an EINbeforeyou need it for tax purposes or for business banking. Don’t wait until the last minute! Remember, you can get an EIN immediately by applying online, but if you choose to apply by fax or mail, it can take anywhere from one to five weeks.
If for some reason you don’t have your EIN by the time you need to file a tax return, the IRS recommends you write “Applied for” and the date you applied in the space for the EIN. Don’t input your Social Security number in that space.
Getting an EIN is easy peasy, right? And you definitely need it if you decide to open a business bank account, file an LLC, hire employees, and all those other lovely reasons listed by the IRS.
Applying for an EIN is just one early but crucial step in starting your business on solid legal ground. Even though getting an EIN is easy, we know that all those other steps can be much more complicated and overwhelming. That’s why our comprehensive and super-affordable course, Lawless to Flawless®, is here to help you out!
Lawless to Flawless® will teach you everything you need to know to get your business up and running with multiple modules, helpful videos, downloadable worksheets, and other resources. You can complete it on your own time and at your own pace, too!
Oh, and did we mention you can gain access to Lawless to Flawless® for just $14 for life? That’s a pretty sweet deal. What are you waiting for?
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