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Employer Identification Number (EIN) Questions Answered

Jason Smith

Jason Smith

Senior Author

Jason Smith

Senior Author

There are a lot of different parts to running a small business. There are all kinds of regulations and rules you need to follow. Some of the most important rules have to deal with paying employees.

Employees need to get paid if you’re going to have a successful business. However, when you pay employees you need to deal with taxes. Employers are obligated to report payments made to employees and independent contractors. You need to do this in order to stay current with federal and state tax law.

The way that you report these payments is through your Employer Identification Number. Many small business owners have been wondering what exactly an EIN is. That’s why we put together this helpful guide and FAQ. We’ll briefly explain what an EIN is and why it’s important. Then we’ll answer some of the most common EIN questions. Use this information to ensure your business stays current with federal and state guidelines for employers.

Reasons You Need an EIN

Understanding EIN

An EIN, or Employer Identification Number, is the number that the IRS gives you so that you can properly file payroll tax information. This goes for W2 employees as well as independent contractors whom you issue a 1099 form.

You need an EIN for nearly every type of business. The only time you wouldn’t need one is if your organization is exempt under IRC 501(a). Thankfully it’s easy to apply for and receive an EIN for your business.

In order to get an EIN you just need to go to the IRS’s website. You can follow a link to their site to apply for an EIN.

Once you’re there, you’ll need to complete the application. It’s important to note that you need to complete the application all at once. You can’t save your information and go back. Your session will time out after 15 minutes of inactivity, which means you’ll have to start over.

In order to get an EIN you’ll need either:

  • A Social Security Number
  • An ITIN – Individual Tax Identification Number
  • An EIN – if you’re forming a company owned by another company

Additionally, you’re limited to one EIN per responsible party per day.

Employer Identification Number (EIN) Questions Answered

Why You Need an EIN

W2 Employee Taxes

 An EIN allows you to properly file payroll taxes and make deductions on behalf of your W2 employees. That includes social security, Medicare, and federal income taxes. Failure to pay taxes on your W2 employees can have serious consequences. These include having to pay all of your back taxes at once, fines, and other penalties.

1099 Employee Taxes

An EIN means you can properly report payments to 1099 independent contractors to the federal government. That allows the government to know who should be filing a tax return and reporting income from your business. Moreover, it helps ensure you’re following the law and maintaining good accounting practices. Filing a 1099 can help demonstrate that money spent on independent contractors really was spent on that labor. This can prevent unfortunate accounting errors and theft.

Open a Business Checking Account

A business checking account is essential to separating your personal finances from your business finances. This allows you to simplify your accounting processes. It means you can clearly track what was purchased for the business. As a result, you won’t need to dig through old receipts and transactions trying to remember what’s business and what’s personal.

Protect Your Identity

If you’re not using an EIN, then you use your social security number on all of your business paperwork. This places you at risk for identity theft. Identity thieves know that your social security number is one of the biggest keys to stealing your identity. That means your business paperwork will put your personal identity at risk.

Build Business Credit

Once you open your company’s checking account you can also start applying for business credit cards. A business line of credit is a valuable tool that allows you to grow your business much faster than if you only operated on cash. However, you’ll need an EIN to prove that your business credit account is for the business and not your personal use.

General EIN Questions

This section contains the basic information you’re looking for when it comes to EIN numbers. It includes and explanation of what they are, how they look, and how they work. Use this information to gain a solid understanding of EIN numbers so that you can ensure your business is operating legally and paying the appropriate taxes for your employees.

What is an EIN Number?

An EIN is an Employer Identification Number. It’s used by the IRS and state governments for tax-filing purposes. You can get an EIN from the IRS’s website.

How Many Digits is an EIN?

There are 9 digits in an Employer Identification Number. The number is unique and won’t be shared by any other entities.

Is Federal Tax ID same as EIN?

No, a federal tax ID is issued to individuals who do not have or cannot obtain a social security number. For example, legal resident non-citizens will have a federal tax ID number. An EIN is an Employer Identification Number. It’s used by the IRS to track taxes for an employer. It can also be used in certain other situations for a business that has no employees.

What Does an EIN Number Look Like?

An EIN is a 9 digit number. It has 2 digits, a dash, and then 7 more digits. For example, 12-1234567. Each number is unique to the employer it is issued to.

What is the Difference Between EIN and TIN?

A TIN, or Tax Identification Number, is an identification number given to people that are not able to obtain or don’t have a social security number, or SSN. An EIN is issued to an employer. That means it could be given to a person or to a company. It’s used to track different payroll taxes.

How Much Does an Employer Identification Number Cost?

You can get an EIN for free. All you need to do is fill out IRS for SS-4 or file an application for it online. Don’t let others charge you money for obtaining a free service. This can happen with some incorporation services.

What is Employer Registration Number?

An Employer registration number is another way of saying an employer identification number. It’s a 9 digit number issued by the IRS to employers for tax purposes.

What is Employer Tax Reference Number?

An Employer tax reference number is another term for an Employer Identification Number. This is a special number given by the IRS to employers to use for tax filing purposes.

Employer Identification Number (EIN) Questions Answered

Obtaining an EIN

There are a lot of questions about how to get an EIN. There are also lots of questions about whether or not certain people or organizations need an EIN. This section has the answer to all of those questions and more. Keep in mind that it’s free to get an EIN. Don’t let services charge you money for filling out a simple form.

How Can I Get a Copy of My EIN Number?

You have several options if you’ve lost or forgotten your EIN. First, you can find the original information the IRS sent you. You can also call 800-829-4933. That’s the IRS’s Business & Specialty Tax line. They will be able to help you get your number.

Additionally, many companies open a bank account in the company’s name. If you did so, then your bank likely has your EIN on file. You can also find an old tax return from your company, which will list your EIN on it.

Do I Need an EIN for an LLC?

Usually. If you’re a single member LLC then you might not need an EIN. That includes people who operate a home-based business where you fill all the roles. Instead, you’re treated as a sole proprietorship for tax purposes and you’ll use your social security number as your LLC EIN.

How Can I Get a Free EIN Number?

It’s easy to get a free EIN number. You can either apply online through the IRS website or you can fill out and mail IRS form SS-4.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Employer Identification Number?

If you apply online then you can get an EIN immediately. If you fill out for SS-4 and fax it to the IRS, then you’ll get a return fax in about 1 week with your information.

How do I Get an EIN Number for My LLC?

Getting an EIN for your LLC is very easy to do. You can apply for one through the IRS website. The application is pretty straight-forward, and you’ll get your EIN immediately. You can also fill out form SS-4 and fax it to the IRS. This will get you an EIN in about a week.

Does a Sole Proprietor Need an EIN?

There are a few situations that would require a sole proprietor to get an EIN. If you hire employees, buy or inherit an existing business, incorporate, file for bankruptcy, or if you have a Keogh or Solo 401(k) retirement plan. Even if you don’t need an EIN there’s no reason you shouldn’t get one. It helps you avoid identity theft and can help you establish independent contractor status.

How to Apply for EIN Number?

There are two ways to apply for an EIN number. The first way is to fill out IRS form SS-4. You can fax it to the IRS and you’ll receive a return fax in about a week with your information. You can also apply for an EIN online through the IRS’s website.

Do I Need a New EIN?

That depends on several factors. If you have employees, want to incorporate, declare bankruptcy as a business, or have certain kinds of 401(k) accounts, then you’ll need an EIN. However, if you’re just an individual person and don’t employ anyone, you don’t need an EIN.

How to Get an EIN for an Estate?

You can get an EIN for an estate the same way you’d get one for a business. You can fill out form SS-4 from the IRS and send it in. You can also apply for one online by going to the IRS’s website.

Employer Identification Number (EIN) Questions Answered

Locating an EIN

There are many questions about where to find an EIN. There’s no database of EINs for private companies. However, public companies and non-profit organizations are different. It can also be difficult to find an EIN on different forms and paperwork. This section answers your questions about locating an EIN so you can make sure all of your paperwork is in order.

How Can I Find My Employer Tax ID Number?

You have several options to find your EIN. You can find the original message the IRS sent you. You can also check your bank accounts for your company online. You likely used your EIN to open the accounts. Finally, you can look at old tax returns issued by your company, these will have your EIN on them.

How do I Find My Employer Identification Number on My Paystub?

Your employer identification number most likely won’t be on your paystub. Instead, you can check your W2 from the employer. You can also contact your employer’s human resource department to get the EIN for the business.

How do You Find a Company's EIN Number?

There are a few different ways to find a company’s EIN. You can search the SEC database for your company. You can also look at a W2 or 1099 the company gave you for your taxes. If you’re looking for a non-profit company’s EIN, then you can find it in the IRS exempt organizations database. Finally, you can usually get the EIN if you ask the company’s accounting department.

Where do I Find Employer Identification Number?

You can find an EIN in many places. Most people only encounter these numbers when they’re doing their taxes. A company’s EIN will be on your 1099 or W2 which shows your income from that company. You can also check the SEC database, EDGAR. Finally, you can call the company and ask.

How to Look Up EIN?

You can look up an EIN with the SEC database, EDGAR. You can also check the IRS database of exempt organizations if you’re looking for the EIN of a non-profit company.

Where is Employer Identification Number on W2?

It depends on which version of form W2 you’re looking at. Most people will find the EIN to the right of their social security number. That works if the form is printed in a portrait fashion. If the form is printed in a landscape style, then you’ll find the EIN under your social security number. Look for box b.

How to Find Employer ID Number Without W2?

The best way to find the EIN without a W2 is to call the company and ask. You can also research it with the SEC database, EDGAR.

Using an EIN

Many people and small business owners don’t realize the range of uses of an EIN. You can use it just like you’d use a social security number for yourself. That means there’s a lot of utility to getting an EIN so that your business can take advantage of credit and accounting benefits. This section answers all of the questions you might have about how you can use your business’s EIN.

What is an EIN Number Used For?

The EIN is used by the IRS to identify tax accounts of an employer or some other organizations. The IRS uses it to identify people who are required to file a tax return.

How to Build Credit with EIN Number?

You can use your EIN number to establish a credit account for your business. First, you’ll need to use it to open a checking account. You’ll also need to register with Dun & Bradstreet and use it to get a D-U-N-S Number. Once you do that, you can apply for credit cards using your EIN.

Can I Use My EIN to Apply for Credit?

Yes, most financial transactions use your company’s EIN number. An easy way to think about it is that your company’s EIN is like your social security number. Anything that you’d use your SSN for as an individual, you’d use your EIN for as a business.

Can I Buy a Car with My EIN Number?

Yes, you’ll use your EIN in place of your social security number when you’re filling out the credit application to purchase the car. The car will be registered as belonging to your business and will be treated as a business asset.

Employer Identification Number (EIN) Questions Answered

EIN Records

Many people want to know how to find an EIN. This section will help you understand how to interact with different records in order to get the EIN you’re looking for.

What is My Employer's EIN?

To find your employer’s EIN you’ll need to look at your W2 or 1099. You can also call the company and ask for the number. The human resources or accounting departments will have access to that information.

Are EIN Numbers Public?

Yes, EIN numbers are public information. You can search for them through the SEC database. That’s why it’s a good idea to get an EIN number even if you’re a sole proprietor. If you don’t get an EIN, then your social security number will be used and will be public information. It won’t be indicated as a social security number, but it’s still risky.

Can I Look Up an EIN Number?

Yes. You can look up an EIN number using the SEC’s EDGAR database if the company is publicly traded. It will be on form 10-k. You can also call the IRS for more information.

Can I Find My EIN Number Online?

There are a few places you can check online. If your company is publicly traded, then it can be found on form 10-K, obtainable through the SEC’s EDGAR database. You can also check your company bank account. You needed to use your EIN to open the account, so the number will be available there.

Can I Look Up a Business Tax ID Number?

Yes, depending on the nature of the business there are different places you can look to find an EIN. Publicly traded companies can be found on EDGAR, through the SEC. Non-profit companies can be found through the IRS list of exempt organizations.

Can I Verify a Tax ID Number?

There isn’t a way to verify an EIN unless you’re a person at the business who has the authority to do so. The exception to this rule is for publicly traded companies, where it can be found through the SEC. Non-profit and tax-exempt organizations can be looked up through the IRS.

Are Federal EIN Numbers Public Record?

There’s no public record for the EIN of private businesses. However, you can get the EIN from public businesses through the SEC. You can also get the EIN of non-profit and tax exempt businesses through the IRS list of exempt organizations.

How to Verify Federal Employer Identification Number?

There’s no way to verify an EIN for a private company other than calling the company and asking what their EIN is. However, you can find the EIN for publicly traded companies through the SEC on for 10-K. You can also find the EIN for tax exempt organizations through the IRS.

How to Retrieve Employer Identification Number?

You can retrieve your Employer Identification number by calling the IRS Business & Specialty Tax line at 1-800-829-4933. You can also check your business’s bank or credit card accounts, as you would use that number to open those accounts.

Other EIN Questions

There are lots of random questions that people have about EINs and things that EINs are used for. This section covers all of these questions so that you can understand whatever it is you need to know about employer identification numbers and your business or employer.

What is Deducted on a Paystub?

There are several things deducted on a paystub. Moreover, different items might be deducted in different states. Generally, you’ll see federal income tax, social security, Medicare, and state income tax. You can also find certain state programs deducted on your paystub.

Does EIN Cost Money?

No, it’s free to apply and receive an EIN from the IRS. You can apply online through their website or you can fill out and fax form SS-4.

Do EIN Numbers Expire?

No, EIN numbers do not expire. No other business will get your EIN once it has been issued to you.

Do Business Tax ID Numbers Expire?

No, Business Tax ID numbers, or EIN numbers, do not expire. There’s no inactivity period or anything else that will cause your EIN to expire.

How to Cancel EIN Number?

That’s easy – you can’t. It doesn’t matter if you never use the EIN for federal tax returns or anything else. Once an EIN has been assigned to a business it becomes permanent.

What is the EIN Number for My School?

You’ll need to check with your school’s accounting department (the administrative account department, not the accounting department in the business school). They’ll be able to tell you what the EIN is for the school. If your school is tax-exempt then you can also find it online through the IRS database of tax-exempt organizations.

Can You Have 2 EIN Numbers?

An individual business or entity cannot have 2 EIN numbers. However, if one business owns another, distinct business, then each business can have its own EIN number.

How to Find your State Employer Account Number?

That depends on the state where you live. Each state has a different system for employer account numbers. You should check with your state’s department of commerce or equivalent organization for more information.

Do I Need a State Employer Identification Number?

That depends on the state you live in. You should check with your state’s department of commerce or similar department to get more information on what you need for your business to legally operate in the state.

Does your Employer Identification Number Change?

No, your employer identification number will never change. Once it’s issued to you, that will be your EIN forever. EIN numbers are not reused, and they cannot be canceled.

Can an Employer Ask for Your Social Security Number?

Yes, your employer can ask for your social secured number for a number of reasons. They need your SSN in order to file payroll taxes for W2 employees or report payments for 1099 employees. They also might use it to run a background or credit check. However, in most states they will need to notify you and ask your permission to do a credit or background check.

Can My Employer Give Out My Social Security Number?

That depends on several different factors, including the state you live in, who they give your social security number to, why they gave your number out, and other aspects of the situation. You should contact an employment lawyer for more information about your specific case.

What is Employer Group Number?

An employer group number is a number used to identify the benefits that are associated with your employer’s health care plan. It’s not related to their EIN in any way.

Jason Smith

Jason is a Senior Author for SBL. He has been working with small business owners like you for the past ten years. He graduated with an MBA and began a career as an independent financial consultant for small businesses in his state. 

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