One of the first things you should do when getting your business set up is to complete an IRS SS-4 Form which establishes your business tax account.

This form is used for identification purposes of employers, legal purposes, bank accounts and for applications such as a merchant services accounts used for accepting credit cards with your credit card processing company.

SS-4 Forms

As of May 21, 2012, the IRS issues only one Employer Identification Number (EIN) per day.

Your EIN will be a nine-digit number (for example, 12-3456789) and assigned to business entities: sole proprietors, corporations, partnerships, estates, trusts, certain individuals, and other entities for tax filing and reporting purposes. Always ensure you use your EIN for business activities and do not use your EIN in place of your social security number (SSN).

How to Apply

You can apply for an EIN online, by telephone, by fax, or by mail, depending on how soon you need to use the EIN. Use only one method for each entity so you do not receive more than one EIN for an entity.

To view an SS-4 form, click here. The form is updated continually, so be sure and check periodically.

Remember, the IRS is the only one allow to provide EINs and they do so free, so beware of non IRS websites that also provide them for a fee.

More Details on Who Needs an EIN

Not every business entity as mentioned above is required to have an EIN, sole proprietorships, for instance, need one only if at least one of the following is true:

  • The company has at least one employee.
  • The proprietor has a Keogh Plan, a special type of retirement plan for people who own small businesses or are otherwise self-employed.
  • The proprietor is obligated to fill out a sales tax forms, or one for alcohol, tobacco or other type of excise tax.

An individual who owns more than one business should have a different EIN for each one and, likewise, if a business changes ownership, then the new owner must apply for a new identification number and not use that of the previous one.