When a business incorporates, it becomes a separate entity. In order to identify a business, the IRS assigns a unique Employer Identification Number (EIN) to the entity. One of the first things that a newly incorporated business must do is apply for a federal EIN through the IRS. This is a free service and is generally a requirement for most businesses.

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What Is an EIN?

An EIN is sometimes referred to as a Federal Tax Identification Number. It’s not unlike your own social security number. It serves as a way to identify the business as a separate entity and is used for tax purposes. Businesses will require an EIN if:

  • The business has employees
  • The business is operating as a partnership or corporation
  • Excise, employment, or alcohol, tobacco, and firearms tax returns must be filed
  • A Keogh plan is in place
  • The business withholds taxes on income that is paid to a non-resident alien

Businesses that are involved in certain industries will also be required to obtain a federal EIN.

How to Obtain an EIN

Obtaining an EIN is a relatively simple process, but will require you to first incorporate your business. Once the business has legally been incorporated, an EIN can be applied for online or you can file a Form SS-4.

Regardless of whether you submit your application electronically, by fax, or through the mail, the SSN, ITIN, or EIN of the company’s principal officer, owner, trustor, grantor, or general partner must be disclosed. This is what the IRS refers to as a “responsible party.” Responsible parties direct, control, or manage the company and its assets and funds.

The EIN application will ask for information about the company, including:

  • The address of the company
  • Type of entity
  • The reason for applying
  • The principal activity of the business
  • Date the business was started or acquired
  • Number of expected employees in the next 12 months

While applying for an EIN may seem like a simple process, incorporating can be a more complicated matter. We can guide you through the incorporation process to ensure that your company is legally and properly incorporated. We’ll even procure an EIN for you during the process so you don’t have to waste time filling out and submitting paperwork.

EIN Lookup

There are numerous ways to locate another company’s Federal Tax Identification Number.

A public company’s EIN will be listed on the first page of their 20-Fs, 10-Ks, and various other SEC filings. These documents can be found through the SEC’s EDGAR database, and searching is free.

Some private companies will list their EIN on their website, although this isn’t common. There are several EIN lookup services that can also help locate a private company’s EIN.

Nonprofit organizations will generally include their EIN on their Form 990. This form will also include the organization’s executive names and the entity’s financial information. Again, there are quite a few EIN lookup services available for nonprofits that allow you to view an organization’s Form 990.

If you have lost your company’s EIN, you can retrieve it through the IRS by calling the Business and Specialty Tax Line. Make sure that you prepare for the call as you will need to supply identifying information before you can retrieve your federal EIN.

Get started Start Your Incorporation Answer a few questions. We'll take care of the rest.

Get started Start Your Incorporation Answer a few questions. We'll take care of the rest.