How to Get a Federal Tax ID Number

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Anyone who operates a business may be required to by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to get an "Employee Identification Number," also known as a "Tax ID Number." Just as a Social Security number is used by the IRS to identify individual taxpayers, the unique EIN is used to identify businesses.

If the form you are filling out asks for your federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) or "Federal Tax ID Number," and you don't have one, it's time to ask yourself: Do you really need an EIN, and if you do, how do you get one?

The IRS requires businesses to provide their EIN on all tax documents and forms. Not all businesses need an EIN, but if yours does, the IRS offers several methods to get one.

Does Your Business Need an Federal Tax ID Number?

Any business offering products or services that are taxed in any way must get a federal tax ID number. If your state taxes personal services, or if you are required to collect sales taxes on your sales, you need an EIN. All the government forms you will be required to file for your business will require either your EIN or Social Security number.

With a few exceptions, any business that has employees or pays any kind of federal, state, or local taxes will need an Employer Identification Number.

Apply Online for an EIN

The quickest way to apply for an EIN is online through the IRS website's secure EIN Assistant page. You will be given your EIN immediately after completing the short application form.

After you complete the online application the IRS will create your new EIN, which you can start using immediately. You'll get an IRS document download that confirms that your application was successful and provides your EIN. Save a copy on your computer and to print one for your records in case you forget the EIN.

File for an EIN by Fax or Mail

The IRS also takes applications for an EIN via fax or mail. For these methods, you'll need to fill out the IRS Form SS-4 and contact the appropriate office, depending on where you live. Anyone whose principal business is located in one of the 50 states or the District of Columbia can file for an EIN using:

Internal Revenue Service
ATTN: EIN Operation
Cincinnati, OH, 45999
Fax: (855) 641-6935

When applying by fax, include a return fax number so the IRS can respond with your EIN within four days. By mail, the timeframe for the IRS to process the application is four weeks.

Get a Federal Tax ID Number by Phone

Only international applicants are allowed to apply by phone, and must answer questions regarding the SS-4. These applications can be completed by calling 267-941-1099.

Essential Information for All EIN Applications

The EIN application process requires some basic information, including:

  • The type of EIN you are applying for, such as a sole proprietorship, corporation, LLC, partnership or estate
  • Reason for applying for the EIN, such as starting a new business, banking purposes or a range of other reasons
  • Your name
  • Your Social Security number

A Few Federal Tax ID Number Tips

If you lose or forget your EIN, you can always call the toll-free IRS Business & Specialty Tax Line at 800-829-4933. An IRS representative will ask you for some identifying information, such as your Social Security number, to ensure you are the person authorized to receive the EIN.

Once you have completed the application and the IRS has assigned an EIN, the number can never be canceled. However, if you ever decide you no longer need the EIN, the IRS can close your business account for you. If you need it again, the EIN remains available to you and will never be reassigned to anyone else by the IRS.   

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Your Citation
Longley, Robert. "How to Get a Federal Tax ID Number." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Longley, Robert. (2020, August 27). How to Get a Federal Tax ID Number. Retrieved from Longley, Robert. "How to Get a Federal Tax ID Number." ThoughtCo. (accessed April 14, 2021).