A Federal Employers Identification Number (EIN) is the equivalent of a business social security number. Businesses and some individuals apply for and employers’ identification number in order to report income/withholdings and file tax forms. Some independent contractors (while not required to have one) prefer to use an employers identification number instead of a social security number.
Who Needs an Employers Identification Number
If any of the following apply to you or your business then you must apply for an EIN:
- Your business has employees
- Your business is a partnership or corporation
- You file excise, employment or all tobacco and firearms tax forms
- You withhold taxes on income
- Have Keogh plan
- You are involved with trusts, estates, nonprofit organizations, plan administrators, farmers or operatives or real estate mortgage investment conduits
How to apply for an EIN
Understanding how important it is to have an employer’s identification number, the government makes it easy to apply for one. You may apply one of several ways:
- Online EIN Application: To apply online visit the IRS website and complete the online application.
- EIN by Phone: If you choose to apply by telephone, call their Business & Specialty tax line at 800-829-4933. This office is open Monday through Friday from 7 AM to 10 PM.
- Fax Application: To apply by fax you must first complete form SS-4: Application for Employer Identification Number. Once the form is completed fax it to the appropriate office. If you reside in one of the 50 states or the District of Columbia fax it to (859) 669-5760. If you don’t have a legal residence or principal office, fax it to (267) 941-1040
- Via Snail Mail: If you’re completing the applet if you wish to obtain an EIN through the mail, complete the exact same form as if you were to fax the application. However, instead of faxing Form SS-4, mail it to the appropriate address. If you’re within the United States 50 states and the District of Colombia mail it to: Internal Revenue Service,Attn: EIN Operation,Cincinnati, OH 45999. Otherwise, mail it to: Internal Revenue Service, Attn: EIN International Operation, Philadelphia, PA 19255
Federal Employer Identification Limitation
Because the government is receiving a high volume of requests for federal employer identification numbers, there was a limit of 5 EIN in any given business day. If you are a small business owner or an independent contractor and are applying for an EIN this limitation most likely won’t apply to you. However, if a routine part of your business is to secure federal employer identification numbers for your clients, there is a 5 EIN per day limitation.
For more information regarding Federal employer identification numbers, download the IRS document Understanding your EIN
Note: The above link for Form SS-4 does not include the instructions for completing the form. Here’s the link to the instructions for completing Form SS-4 (for the life of me I don’t understand why the instructions are not included with the form).