Your EIN is an integral part of your business. Without it, your business can end up in hot water with the IRS. This article explains the purpose of an EIN, when to get one, and shares the ways to look up a misplaced EIN or locate the identifier of another business should you so desire.
What is an EIN? – EIN Lookup
An employer identification number (EIN) is a unique nine-digit code your business uses for tax purposes. It acts like a personal social security number and is tied to your company for life.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issues EIN numbers to companies for free. If applying online, you’ll receive a number immediately, along with a confirmation letter for your records.
When Should My Business Get an EIN?
Sole proprietorships and single-employee LLCs can skate by without needing an EIN. Each of these business types will need to provide the owner’s social security number in its place. Even if one isn’t required, obtaining an EIN can help separate personal and business dealings.
The moment your company hires its second employee, you can no longer use a social security number and must file for an EIN. This is immediately the case for a business formed as a partnership or corporation.
Most banks want to see an EIN before allowing you to open a business bank account, even if you’re still a one-person show. This holds true for business credit cards as well.
You’ll also need an EIN if you file excise taxes or withhold taxes for any nonwage income you’re paying to a resident alien.
Ways to Apply for an EIN
Only registered businesses are able to apply for an EIN. In most cases, obtaining your tax identifier is one of the first things you’ll want to do after completing the formation process.
Here’s how to register your business before you go on for EIN lookup.
There are a few ways in which you can apply for an EIN:
Creating an EIN online through the IRS is the fastest and easiest method. Through the IRS’s Internet EIN form, you can fill out the application in one quick session. The IRS will validate your information during the session, and if everything checks out, you’ll receive your number immediately.
If you want to save time, you can alternatively use ZenBusiness to get your EIN with ease.
You can send a completed SS-4 Form to the appropriate fax number at the IRS. Once the IRS determines you’re eligible for an EIN, they will fax back confirmation along with your new EIN. Expect the process to take around four business days.
Send a completed SS-4 Form to the appropriate IRS address if you want to submit your application by mail. The average time it takes to hear back by mail is four weeks.
Those living overseas can apply for an EIN via telephone. You’ll be asked a series of questions from the SS-4 form to prove you have the authority and necessary information to receive one.
This option is not available to business owners living in the United States.
How Can I Find My EIN Number? – EIN Lookup Guide
If you need to locate your own EIN number, there are a few options you can try.
Check Your EIN Confirmation Letter
When you apply for an EIN, the IRS issues a confirmation letter validating your request. This document is the first place you’ll see your EIN and is the best place to track it down.
For those filing online, you’ll receive an instant notification in the form of an EIN confirmation letter. You can save the letter to your computer or access it online in the future.
If applying by fax or mail, you’ll receive your EIN confirmation letter via the same correspondence. Hopefully, you saved this physical document with other important business papers for easy reference.
Lookup EIN on Other Forms
Since your EIN represents your business on tax forms, you’ll find yourself recording it on tax returns and business license requests. Any tax notices you’ve received back from the IRS may also have your EIN.
Your employer ID number likely won’t change for the duration of your business, so any old records you have on hand would be a good place to look.
Talk to Your Bank
Many banks require an EIN when creating a business account or taking out a loan. Call the bank you do business dealings with and have them assist you in tracking your tax identifier down.
Read more about how to create a business bank account with an EIN only.
Contact a State or Local Agency
Any business requesting a business license at the state or local level has to provide an EIN on the application. Even if you no longer have the paperwork, you can contact the agency to see if they still have it on record.
Reach Out to the IRS
The IRS has a Business & Specialty Tax Line that, among other things, can provide you with your lost or misplaced EIN. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 7 am to 7 pm in your local time.
When you get through, an assistor will ask a series of questions to ensure you’re authorized to receive the EIN number. You’ll receive the identifier over the phone and not through any physical or online means.
Wait times for speaking with someone at the IRS can be insanely long, so use this route as your last resort.
How to Find Another Company’s EIN – EIN Lookup
Locating the EIN for another company may not be as straightforward a process. Here are a few methods you can try for looking it up.
Look at the SEC Database
If the business you’re interested in publicly traded stock, you can use the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission database to locate EIN information. The filings should have the information on hand, but you can also check a recent 10-Q or 10K.
Check the Tax Exempt Database
Tax-exempt companies are all part of a database on the IRS website. All you need is the name of the business you’re inquiring about.
Search the Web
There’s a chance you can find a company’s EIN through some careful internet searching. Local, state, or federal websites may have employer information just waiting for you to find it. If you know the state the company operates in, the Secretary of State site may be a good place to start.
Get a Credit Report
There are few privacy protections for business credit reports. If you can get your hands on one, you may see that company’s EIN mixed in with financial information. Some places may charge a fee to let you leaf through a report.
Hire a Third Party
EIN databases keep tabs on tax identifiers for a wide variety of businesses. It’s not free, but these services may have the information you’re looking for.
You can always pick up the phone and reach out to someone in the financial department of the company you want an EIN from. This may work well for businesses you have a relationship with, but these organizations have no obligation to share this information.
How to Look Up an EIN Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
This FAQ provides answers to common questions about EIN numbers.
Bottom Line on EIN Lookup
You’ll need your EIN to file annual taxes, open a bank account, or request a business license with the authorities. Should you misplace it, there are a few potentially time-consuming methods for getting your EIN back. Keeping proper documentation can save you the hassle of tracking it down and will help protect your company’s privacy down the road.