What is an EIN?
An EIN, short for Employer Identification Number, is a unique identification number that is assigned to a business entity so that it can easily be identified by the IRS (Internal Revenue System). It is commonly used by businesses for the purpose of reporting taxes, and by the IRS to track a business’ spending.
Applying for an EIN
If you’re trying to find your EIN number online and you don’t have one yet, you’ll need to get one. There are a few ways to get an EIN – online, by phone, by fax or by mail. The easiest out of all of them has to be applying online. The IRS’ hours of operation for obtaining your EIN are Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., and need to have your own valid taxpayer’s ID (for instance your SSN, ITIN or EIN).
You can only apply once a day so it is a good idea to be prepared and make sure you have all the correct information with you. Once you start the process, you won’t have time to be sifting through documents trying to find the right things: the session times out after 15 minutes if not in use. As soon as the application finishes, you will get an EIN straight away. Questions are very basic, such as the name of your business, your business structure, who is the responsible party and their details.
Finding your EIN number
Sometimes you might find that you have lost your EIN number. This isn’t as big of a problem as it seems – there are 3 easy ways for you to locate it instantly:
Check your EIN confirmation letter
This may seem obvious but depending on how long ago you received your EIN, it could be a thought at the back of your mind. This will be the original document that the IRS sent you when you first applied for your EIN.
If you applied online, you would have received confirmation online too straight away – or if you had chosen to receive confirmation by traditional mail, that’s where you would have gotten it. The same goes for if you applied by mail: it will be by return mail. If you applied by fax, it will have come by return fax.
Check other places it could be recorded
If you’ve misplaced your confirmation letter, chances are you’ve used your EIN somewhere else. Such places include, but are not limited to:
- Previous federal tax returns
- Previous business loan applications
- Official tax notices from the IRS
- Business licenses, permits and any relevant applications
- Business bank account statements/online account profile (if you have a business bank account)
- Your business credit report
- Payroll paperwork
Your business’ EIN generally does not appear on any formation paperwork, as these only establish your business’ legal setup, and not your business’ tax ID number.
Call the IRS
If all else fails, hope is not lost. You can call the IRS’ Business and Specialty Tax Line, and as long as you are authorised to receive it (for instance you’re a partner in a partnership or a corporate officer), a representative can provide you with the number over the phone.
Finding someone else’s EIN
In rare instances, you might need to look up someone else’s EIN. Such moments include when the nature of your business requires this, or if you want to look up another business’ EIN before doing business with them, to validate their information.
If the company publicly traded and is registered with the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission), they are actually required by the SEC to put their EIN on all documents. If this is the case you can use the SEC’s EDGAR system to find the EIN for free.
But if the company is privately held, here are a few things you can try:
- Contact the company and ask
- Hire a service to look it up
- Try purchasing the business’ credit report
TRUiC shows some of the easiest methods to do things like apply for and find an EIN. Visit their site for more.