Mostly all businesses with employees are required to have an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for tax filing and reporting purposes, including businesses running as corporations or partnerships, non-profit organizations, certain trusts, estates, farmer's cooperatives, and plan administrators.
Every state has different tax rules for employers, which must be considered before applying for an EIN. Taxpayers may file Form SS-4 to apply for an EIN, or apply online using the free service provided by the IRS on their website. The IRS provides an EIN immediately after reviewing the information provided by the employer. The EIN confirmation notice can be downloaded, saved and printed.
Those who wish to use Form SS-4 for applying for an EIN can download it from the irs.gov website, print it and file it through post. Employers who do not have an EIN and want to file their tax return can attach Form SS-4 with their tax return and post it to the IRS. The IRS will first assign an EIN and then process the return. Employers can expect to receive their EIN within four weeks.
Those who have applied for an EIN but haven't received the confirmation may write "Applied for" and include the date on which the application was sent when filing a tax return.
Employers can also place a request for an EIN by calling the IRS toll-free at (800) 829-4933. Taxpayers residing outside the country may call (267) 941-1099 to apply for an EIN.
IRS Form SS-4 can also be faxed, but it must be faxed to the service center of the state where the business is located. If a return fax number is included, the EIN can be expected to be received within a week; if not, it may take close to two weeks.
Before 2001, an EIN's first two digits indicated the geographical area where the business operates, but now the EIN prefix indicates the campus that assigns the EIN. Each campus, including the internet and the Small Business Administration (SBA), has unique prefixes for identification and organization. In total, there are 12 campuses.
It is best to apply for an EIN early, at least four weeks before filing a tax return online, because after the confirmation the IRS can take up to two weeks to record your EIN in its permanent records. Paper tax returns can be filed immediately after receiving the EIN, but electronic returns can only be filed after the EIN is added to the IRS' permanent records.