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Do I Need an EIN?

April 29, 2016

Most businesses are required to have an Employer Identification Number (EIN). It is a nine-digit number that is used by the IRS to identify a business. The EIN is used by the business when filing its tax returns.

When You Need an EIN

Businesses need an EIN if any of these conditions are met:

  • Your business has employees
  • If you operate your business as a corporation or a partnership
  • If you file any of these returns: employment, excise, or alcohol, tobacco, and firearms
  • 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 these organizations:
    • Trusts, except certain grantor-owned revocable trusts, IRAs, Exempt Organization Business Income Tax Returns
    • Estates
    • Real estate mortgage investment conduits
    • Non-profit organizations
    • Farmers’ cooperatives
    • Plan administrators

Non-profit organizations, trusts, and co-operatives may also be required to obtain an EIN. All corporations and Limited Liability Companies with more than one member generally need to have an EIN.

An EIN can be obtained easily from the IRS at no cost. However, before applying, ensure that your business is formed legally. If there’s a change in ownership or business structure, you need to get a new EIN.

How to Obtain an EIN

Online: The simplest way to apply for an EIN is online through the IRS website. To apply online, you must have a valid Taxpayer Identification Number (SSN, ITIN, or old EIN), and your principal business must be located in the U.S. or U.S. territories. When the application for an EIN is completed and sent, the information is validated by the IRS, and the EIN is issued immediately.

Fax or Mail: Businesses can use fax or mail to apply for an EIN. When using fax or mail, complete Form SS-4, Application for Employer Identification Number, and fax or mail it to the address below (if your principal business, office or agency, or legal residence is located in a U.S. state or the District of Columbia).

Internal Revenue Service
Attn: EIN Operation
Cincinnati, OH 45999
Fax: (859) 669-5760

If you have no principal place of business, legal residence, or principal office or agency in any of the U.S. states, you may fax Form SS-4 to this address:

Internal Revenue Service
Attn: EIN International Operation
Cincinnati, OH 45999
Fax: (859) 669-5987

The IRS usually issues an EIN within four business days if the application is sent through fax, and four weeks if sent through the mail.

Phone: International applicants can obtain an EIN by phone. They may call 267-941-1099 from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) on weekdays. The IRS will have questions when helping you to complete Form SS-4. Therefore, make sure that the person calling is qualified to provide the information needed by the IRS.