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When you open a new business, applying for an employer identification number (EIN) may need to be near the top of your priority list. While not every business needs an EIN, many do. Nearly 5.4 million businesses applied for new EINs in 2021.
Getting an EIN for your business is free. But the application process does require some legwork on the part of the business owner. Here’s everything you need to know about EINs.
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What Is an EIN?
A federal tax ID number, or an EIN, is a nine-digit number that identifies your company with the IRS. This nine-digit identifier is a bit like a Social Security number (SSN), but for your business.
Once you establish an EIN, your business can use the number to pay both federal and state taxes. An EIN may also empower your business to complete the following actions:
- Open a business bank account
- File business or corporate tax returns
- Get business licenses
- Apply for small business financing like business loans and business credit cards
EIN Lookup:How to Find Your EIN Online
If you previously applied for an EIN and have forgotten it, here are a few possible ways to look up your business tax ID number.
1. Check Your EIN Confirmation Letter
The IRS will notify you when it approves your EIN application. Depending on how you apply, you may receive a confirmation letter with your EIN online at the time it was issued or via mail or email.
Look back through your paper and digital business files. You or whoever helped you apply may have saved a copy of it for future reference.
2. Check Other Places Your EIN May Be Recorded
Aside from confirmation letters from the IRS, you may be able to find a copy of your EIN on other important documents. For example, you might want to take a look at previously filed tax returns. Or you might look over old financing documents, like applications for business loans or lines of credit.
The IRS also suggests that you might be able to get a copy of your EIN by contacting institutions with which you shared that information in the past such as your business bank or local and state business license agencies.
3. Call the IRS
A third way to look up your EIN is to call the IRS. You can reach out to the Business and Specialty Tax line by calling 800-829-4933. The department is open Monday through Friday between 7:00 am and 7:00 pm local time.
How to Look Up a Company’s EIN
There may come a time when you need to look up another company’s EIN for verification purposes, risk assessment or other reasons. Here are a few potential ways you might be able to find a business’ EIN when you need it:
- Ask for the information. The company’s payroll or accounting department might be a good place to submit your request, though there’s no guarantee a business will be willing to share those details.
- Check the company’s credit report. Unlike consumer credit reports, which have more robust privacy protections, almost anyone can check a business’ credit report. Some business credit reports and scores may feature a company’s EIN alongside other important details, like how the business manages its credit obligations.
- Search state and federal websites. You may be able to find information about a company, including its EIN, by searching various state and federal government websites. The secretary of state’s website (in the state where the business is located) may be a good place to start. You might also consider searching the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) website for SEC filings if the company is publicly traded.
- Pay a third party for help. Another option to consider is an EIN database. For a fee, these third-party services may be able to provide you with useful information about various businesses.
When Should My Business Consider an EIN?
Some businesses may be able to operate without an EIN. However, according to the IRS, you may need to apply for one if your business plans to:
- Pay employees
- Withhold income taxes (aside from wages) for nonresident aliens
- Establish tax-deferred pension plans
- Operate as a corporation or partnership
- File employment, excise, tobacco, firearms or alcohol tax returns
If you’re unsure whether your business needs an EIN, you can talk to a certified accountant or tax professional for guidance regarding your individual situation.
How to Apply for an EIN
You can apply for an EIN from the IRS in a few different ways. The fastest and preferred way to apply is online. However, here’s a look at all four of your options:
- Online. The IRS provides a user-friendly online application platform—the EIN Assistant—that you can use to request a number for your business. If you opt to use the online tool, you will need to complete your application in a single session. There’s no option to save your work and return later to pick up where you left off. If you leave your session inactive for 15 minutes, a security measure kicks in and you’ll have to start your application over from the beginning.
- Fax. You may also apply via fax. You can download and complete Form SS-4 from the IRS website. If your principal business address is located in the U.S., you can fax your completed form to 855-641-9535. You can look up other fax number options on the IRS website.
- Telephone. If you’re applying for an EIN from an international location, you have the option to complete your application over the phone. Applicants can call 267-941-1099 Monday to Friday from 6:00 am to 11:00 pm EST.
- Mail. The IRS also allows you to apply for an EIN via mail. You can send in a completed Form SS-4 to the following address as long as your business is located in the U.S.:
Internal Revenue Service
Attn: EIN Operation
Cincinnati, OH 45999
You can look up alternative mailing addresses for your EIN application on the IRS website.
Your business needs to be located in the U.S. or one of the U.S. Territories to be eligible for an EIN number. As an applicant, you must also have a valid SSN or other acceptable Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN, EIN, etc.). Unless you hire a third party to manage the process for you, applying is free of charge.
How Long Does It Take to Get an EIN?
The amount of time it takes your business to receive an EIN can vary. Your results will depend on how you apply for your business tax ID number in the first place.
- Online: If you apply for an EIN online, you may get an EIN number right away.
- Fax: With faxed applications, you should receive a fax back (if you provide a return fax number) with your EIN within four business days.
- Mail: Send in your EIN application via mail and you’ll have to wait around four weeks for processing.
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How to Cancel an EIN
The IRS can close your business account and cancel your EIN upon request. You must send a letter to the IRS with the following details:
- Business’ legal name
- Mailing address of the business
- Reason you wish to close the account
You can mail your notice to the Internal Revenue Service, Cincinnati, OH 45999.
Note that even after you close a business, the EIN may still be associated with that entity. The IRS won’t issue the same nine-digit identification number to a business in the future.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can I look up an EIN number?
The IRS doesn’t provide a public database you can use to look up EIN numbers for your own company or others. However, you can look at your EIN confirmation letter or other places your number may be recorded, including previously filed tax returns or old financing documents.
Is an EIN the same as a business ID number?
The terms EIN and business tax ID number are interchangeable. However, a business may have several different types of identification numbers such as a D-U-N-S Number, state ID number, business license number and more.
Is an EIN number free?
The IRS doesn’t charge a fee to apply for an EIN number. The only time you might incur any fees where an EIN is concerned is if you hire a third party to manage the application process on your behalf.
Can I use the same EIN for another business?
It depends. If you’re changing the ownership structure of a business, such as purchasing a new business, you’ll need a new EIN for the new business. But if you’re only operating the other business as a division of your current business, then you won’t need a new EIN. It’s best to consult a tax advisor if you’re unsure.
How much does it cost to get an EIN?
It’s free to get an EIN from the IRS. Applying is simple, and you can get your EIN instantly if you apply online. You don’t need to pay for a service to do this.
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Unfortunately, looking up your EIN on IRS.gov isn't an option, as there's no EIN lookup tool. Still, that doesn't mean you're entirely out of luck. You can find it on the official IRS notice you received when it was issued, call the IRS directly or locate your EIN on business documents.Is there a free database for EIN lookup? ›
This online service is completely free. The EDGAR database includes several forms that may contain a business's EIN, including the 8-K, 10-K, and 10-Q forms.Can you get a copy of your EIN online? ›
The only way to get an EIN Verification Letter (147C) is to call the IRS at 1-800-829-4933. For security reasons, the IRS will never send anything by email. Instead, the IRS will send you an EIN Verification Letter (147C) two ways: by mail.Can I verify my EIN online? ›
No authorization needed – access directly from IRS website
You can directly access the online IRS application to find your EIN number. The online database search can be conducted using specific parameters like the company name, state, and city of operations.
Unfortunately, you cannot get a copy of the IRS EIN confirmation letter online. The IRS will not email or fax the letter, they will send it via mail within eight to ten weeks of issuing your company a Federal Tax ID Number.Is it possible to look up an EIN number? ›
The IRS doesn't provide a public database you can use to look up EIN numbers for your own company or others. However, you can look at your EIN confirmation letter or other places your number may be recorded, including previously filed tax returns or old financing documents.Is there a way to look up a company's EIN number? ›
- Ask the company. Someone in the payroll or accounting department should know the company's tax ID.
- Search SEC filings. Source: SEC.gov. ...
- Inquire with a credit bureau. ...
- Use a paid EIN database. ...
- Use Melissa Database for nonprofits.
To request a 147c letter from the IRS, contact the IRS Business and Specialty Tax line at 1-800-829-4933. They are open Monday through Friday from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM, taxpayer local time (Alaska and Hawaii follow Pacific Time). Be prepared to answer several security questions.Does my EIN still exist? ›
Once an EIN has been assigned to a business entity, it becomes the permanent Federal taxpayer identification number for that entity. Regardless of whether the EIN is ever used to file Federal tax returns, the EIN is never reused or reassigned to another business entity.How do I retrieve my EIN number from the IRS? ›
Simply call (800) 829-4933 and select EIN from the list of options. Once connected with an IRS employee, tell the assistor you received an EIN from the Internet but can't remember it. The IRS employee will ask the necessary disclosure and security questions prior to providing the number.
Is EIN Public Information: Everything You Need to Know. Is EIN public information? Yes, it is, but should be strictly guarded. An employer identification number (EIN) is a number exclusively assigned to an entity to enable the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to easily identify such an entity.Are IRS EIN numbers free? ›
You may apply for an EIN in various ways, and now you may apply online. This is a free service offered by the Internal Revenue Service and you can get your EIN immediately. You must check with your state to make sure you need a state number or charter.Is there a list of EIN numbers? ›
the IRS maintains a list of EINs. Public listed company EINs are available via the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Other EINs may be available by asking the organisation concerned, and are sometimes published on their websites.How do I verify a TIN or EIN? ›
- Interactive TIN Matching – verify up to 25 name/TIN combinations and results will be received immediately. ...
- Bulk TIN Matching – verify up to 100,000 name/TIN combinations and results will be received within 24 hours.