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Rev. date: 091/2006


Employer Identification Number (EIN) – How to Apply

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previous topic occurrence Individual Taxpayer Identification Number next topic occurrence
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Tele-Tax Topic 755
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Generally, an employer is a person or organization for whom a worker performs services as an employee. As an employer, you are generally required to withhold, deposit and report employment taxes. To file the various tax returns, including employment tax returns, you need an Employer Identification Number (EIN). However, a sole proprietor may use his or her social security number in lieu of an EIN if the business has no employees and is not required to file excise, employment, alcohol, tobacco, or firearms returns. A sole proprietorship is the only type of business that may use a social security number rather than an EIN.
An entity is considered to be a sole proprietorship for Federal tax purposes if an individual operates his or her business through a domestic Limited Liability Company (LLC) owned solely by the individual and does not elect for that LLC to be taxed as a corporation by filing Form 8832, Entity Classification Election. In such a case, the LLC is disregarded for federal tax purposes. Generally, the LLC without employees should not request its own EIN. However, the owner of a LLC that elects to be disregarded for federal tax purposes must pay all employment taxes and file employment tax returns with respect to wages paid to employees performing services for the LLC using the LLC's name and EIN.
There are four ways to apply for an EIN:
  1. The Internet EIN application is the preferred method for customers to apply for and obtain an EIN. Once the application is completed, the information is validated during the online session, and an EIN is issued immediately. The online application process is available for all entities whose principle business, office, or agency, or legal residence (in the case of an individual) is located in the United States or U.S. Territories. The principal officer, general partner, grantor, owner, trustee, etc. must have a valid Taxpayer Identification Number (Social Security Number, Employer Identification Number, or Individual Taxpayer Identification number) in order to use the online application.
  2. You may obtain an EIN immediately by telephone 5 days a week, Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. (local time), by calling IRS at 800–829–4933. You may use this EIN immediately to file a paper return or make a payment of tax.
  3. You may obtain an EIN by completing Form SS-4, Application for Employer Identification Number, and faxing it to the IRS for processing. The IRS Fax numbers are provided in the Instructions SS-4. An EIN applied for by fax will be issued within 4 business days.
  4. You may also obtain an EIN by completing the Form SS-4 and mailing it to the IRS service center address listed on the Form SS-4 Instructions. By mailing the completed Form SS-4 to the appropriate service center, you can obtain an EIN within 4 to 5 weeks.
If you already have an EIN and the organization or ownership of your business changes, you may need to apply for a new number. For more information, refer to Publication 1635, Understanding Your EIN. If you prefer, you may call 800–829–4933 for more information.