How to Get a Federal Tax ID Number

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The form you are filling out asks for your federal "Employer Identification Number (EIN)” or “Federal Tax ID Number.” Unfortunately, you don't have one. Do you really need an EIN, and if you do, how do you get one?

The EIN is for Businesses  

Persons who operate businesses may be required to by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to get an Employee Identification Number (EIN), 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.

The EIN allows the IRS to identify businesses and requires them to provide it on all of your tax documents and forms. The terms “EIN,” “Employer Identification Number,” and “Federal Tax ID Number” are often used interchangeably.

Not all businesses need an EIN, but if yours does, the IRS makes it easy to get one.

Does Your Business Need an EIN?

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 its EIN or your Social Security number.

Safe to say, any business that has employees and/or pays any kind of federal, state or local taxes will need an EIN.

How to Apply for an EIN

While you can do it by fax, phone or mail, the best 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.

Just a Few Easy Questions

The EIN application requires answers to just a few simple questions:

  • The type of EIN you are applying for, such as a sole proprietorshipcorporationLLC, 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; and
  • Your Social Security number.

Save the Document with Your EIN

After you complete the application the IRS’ system will create your new EIN, which you can start using immediately. An official IRS document will load onto your computer, which confirms that your application was successful and provides your EIN. It’s a good idea to save a copy on your computer and to print one for your records in case you forget the EIN.

A Few EIN Tips

If you lose or forget your EIN, you can always call the toll-free IRS Business & Specialty Tax Line at 800-829-4933. When you call, the 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. However, if you need it again, the EIN remains available to you and will never be reassigned to anyone else by the IRS.   ​