EIN stands for Employer ID Number, and is the tax identification number most businesses must use. (You could think of it as a company’s Social Security number.)
If you’re setting up a business bank account or need a business license, there will probably be a space on the form for your EIN. Fortunately, it’s simple to apply for your own business tax ID number via the web.
Be warned: There are lots of websites out there that will make a play for your money as soon as you search for the words “apply for an EIN” — but they’re not just costly, they’re totally unnecessary.
Save your cash and sign up quickly and easily online directly through the IRS.
Do you need an EIN?
When you usually need one: The most common reasons people apply for an EIN is if they have one or more employees or operate the business as a corporation (including LLC) or a partnership. There are a few other scenarios that might make it necessary — check them out here.
When you usually don’t need one: If you’re not incorporated and don’t have any employees, you might not need a separate business tax ID number.
Another case where you might not need one: If you’re a sole proprietor but are an LLC (aka a Single Member Limited Liability Company), you can choose to not file your taxes as a corporation, but instead as a “disregarded entity” — meaning you just report your business income on your personal tax return under your own Social Security number rather than with your EIN. Find out more about disregarded entities from the IRS here.
Application tips & notes
- The application must be completed in one session — you cannot save your work and come back to it later.
- If you leave the form for more than 15 minutes, your session will end, and you will have to begin again.
- You will need to list a physical/street address for your company, not just a PO Box.
- You can instead apply via phone, fax or mail — get the details here.
- As soon as your information is verified, you will receive your EIN… but it may take up to two weeks before your ID number becomes part of the IRS’s permanent records (after which you can make an electronic payment or file an electronic tax return).
The information contained on this website is provided for informational purposes only, and is not intended as legal or tax advice.