An EIN number, also known as an employer identification number, or federal tax ID number, is a unique number assigned to businesses by the IRS for tax purposes. Your company’s EIN number is like your business social security number. For many businesses, having a business EIN number is a legal requirement. There are some exceptions though. If you’re just starting your business, you might have some questions on how to get your EIN or where to find your tax ID number if you’ve already been assigned an EIN number.
As a small business owner, you might find yourself in a position where you want to look up your business EIN number. Keep reading our article to learn more about how to apply for an EIN, how to find your tax EIN ID number, and how you can lookup your EIN number.
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Why do you need your EIN number?
It’s likely you’re looking for your EIN number because you’re thinking of getting a small business loan and you need the EIN number in order to apply out the small business loan application, or because the small lender you’re working with wants an EIN letter in order to prove you own the business. The EIN number acts like a social security number, and it represents your business when it comes to filing taxes.
Applying for an EIN is very easy and can be done in minutes. Typically, we recommend that businesses apply for an EIN ASAP, since it’s crucial for various purposes. You don’t need an EIN if you are the only employee, but if you want to scale your business – having an EIN is beneficial.
- If your business has employees, you need an EIN number
- If you business has employment or excise taxes, you need an EIN number
- If your business is taxed as a partnership/corporation, then you need an EIN number
- If your business withholds taxes etc, you need to have an EIN number
If your business is a sole prop, or LLC with no employees, it’s recommended you get an EIN in order to separate your business and personal taxes.
What is an EIN number, and what is an EIN number used for?
Your EIN is a unique number assigned to you by the IRS. The primary purpose of an EIN is for the IRS to identify taxpayers who file business tax returns. Not every business is required to have an EIN. There are several criteria you must pass in order to make sure you don’t need an EIN.
According to the IRS, if you answer YES to any of the questions below – you need an EIN
- If you have employees
- If you operate your business as a corporation
- Do you file tax returns like employment, excise, alcohol, tobacco, or firearms
- Do you withhold taxes on income, like wages
If your business is involved with trusts and estates, non-profits, farmer coops, plan administrators, then you need an EIN.
One type of business that doesn’t need an EIN is a sole proprietorship. This is because this type of business organization isn’t require to register as a business, and nor does it have employees. Just because you’re not required to have an EIN doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea to get it. Getting an EIN is smart, because it lets you separate your business and personal taxes. Having an EIN number will help you keep business and personal finances separate. If you’re a sole prop without an EIN, then banks will use your social security if you try to open a business credit cards. By keeping an EIN, it helps you separate your personal and business finances
Most people know their social security number by heart, but not all business owners know their business tax ID number, and it’s super important to know it. Your EIN isn’t something you use on a day to day basis, so keeping this number on hand is super important. Ideally you should memorize tax Id number, or have it in an easily retrievable place.
EIN Lookup: How to find your EIN Tax ID Number
If you forgot or lost your EIN, this is a common issue. Many small business owners have this issue. There is not a convenient, searchable, database of EIN numbers.
Check your old documents for your ein number before you ein number lookup
The first place to find a lost EIN number is check your previous tax returns. If you can’t find them, then speak to your accountants. If you can locate legal or financial papers, like loan applications, permits, or documents, that is the best. Typically tax related documents have your EIN on them. The easiest way to find your EIN is digging up the EIN confirmation letter. This is the original document you were issued when you first applied for your EIN. The letter will show you the business tax ID, and other information about your business. If you applied online, then the IRS would issue your confirmation letter right away. You also have the opportunity to choose to get it sent by traditional mail. If you apply by fax, you will get the confirmation letter by return fax. If you apply by mail, you get it by mail.
In this sample letter, you can find your EIN at the top of the page.
Check your old federal tax returns for ein number lookup
Many people don’t know this, but your federal business tax return has the EIN number listed there. Many people forget about this. If you look at it, you’ll see the EIN letter on the tax return.
Look at official tax notices from the IRS for your ein number
Often, another great place to look for the EIN number is old, tax notices, from the IRS.
Call the IRS to ein number lookp
Another idea is to call the IRS by calling their tax line. Make sure to call between 7 am and 7 pm. You should be able to track down the EIN number by looking at one or more of the documents above. But, if you’re still not having any luck then IRS can help you with this. You can call the IRS’ phone number and a representative can give you the number over the phone, and can even fax you the EIN letter.
Can you look up an EIN number of another business?
Some business owners may try to find out the EIN of another company, also known as a reverse EIN lookup. For example, some vendors might need an EIN from a company they are doing business with. In some industries, such as insurance, and law, you need another company’s EIN. Another possibility is you look up another business’s EIN to make sure their information is valid. There is no convenient searchable database where you can type in the name of the company and get its EIN. If it’s a publicly traded company, and registered with the SEC, then the business is required to have its EIN on all documents
Finding the EIN of a private company is difficult. You likely need the company to reveal it.
How to apply for an EIN number
Applying for an EIN number is easy, and you should do it ASAP. You will need it in order to open business bank accounts, hiring employees, etc.
One of the fastest ways it to apply for an EIN online. Another way is to apply for EIN by fax. A third way is to apply for EIN by mail. There are a few stips about applying for an EIN. Applicants must either have a SSN, ITIN, or an existing EIN to be eligible for an EIN online. In addition, the applicant must be an individual, not a business entity, and a true owner/officer of the business.
Why you need to know your business federal EIN number
The IRS requires most business owners to apply for an EIN. The exceptions are for sole proprietors and owners of single-member LLC. These people can use their social security number instead of an EIN. If the IRS requires you to get an EIN, or if you choose to get one, here are some examples of situations where you’ll need to provide your business tax ID number.
- When you file business tax returns or making business tax payments
- When you apply for a business loan
- When you open a business bank account
- When you apply for a business credit card
- When you are issuing 1099 to independent contractors
Will My EIN Number Ever Change?
There are certain events which can happen, in terms of your business, which will require you to apply for a new EIN. Below are some situations where you need to apply for a new EIN:
- If your business structure has changed, you’ll need a new EIN if you’re a sole prop, and decide to incorporate or take a partner in your business
- You are subject to bankruptcy
- You purchase a business, or inherit a business, that you operate as a sole prop
If you’re simply changing the name of your business, and open a new location for your existing business, you won’t need to reapply for a new EIN number.
What if I Lose My EIN Number?
If you lose, or misplace, your EIN number, there’s no need to panic and apply for a new one. There’s a number of ways to look up your EIN business tax ID.
- Look for the computer invoice you got when you applied for the EIN
- If you opened a bank account, with an EIN, then ask your bank to get it
- Find your EIN number on a previous tax return
- Many companies like insurance companies, merchant services, tax professionals, etc, require an EIN number. You can reach out to one of these to see if they are willing to provide it.
- Contact the IRS to get your EIN number looked up.
Applying for an EIN is free on the IRS’s website.