How to Find Your Employer Identification Number (EIN)

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An Employer ID Number (EIN) is an important tax identifier for your business. It works in the same way as a Social Security number for individuals, and almost every business needs an EIN. The most important reason for an EIN is to identify your business for federal income tax purposes, but it’s also used to apply for a business bank account, loan, or credit card, and for state and local taxes, licenses, and other registrations (like sales tax or a local business license). 

The IRS deadline for 2019 taxes was extended from April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020. That deadline has passed, but upcoming tax deadlines remain the same. If you applied for an extension on filing your 2019 tax return, that deadline is still October 15, 2020. If you are paying 2020 estimated taxes, the third-quarter deadline is still September 15, 2020, and the fourth-quarte deadline is still January 15, 2021.

When Your Business Needs an EIN

Your business will need an EIN when:

  • You have employees
  • You are starting a business that is registered with a state, like a partnership, LLC, or corporation
  • Your business must pay excise taxes or you are subject to alcohol, tobacco, or firearms regulations
  • You withhold taxes
  • You open a business bank account
  • Your business applies for a license or permit 

Get an EIN For Small Business Coronavirus Disaster Loans

Your business will need an EIN to apply for Small Business Administration loans, including these disaster loans for businesses affected by the Coronavirus pandemic:

The Paycheck Protection Program loan gives employers an incentive to keep workers on their payroll. You can submit an application for this loan until August 8, 2020.

The Economic Injury Disaster Loan program is an SBA disaster loan program for businesses with fewer than 500 employees, including sole proprietors, independent contractors, and self-employed persons. Check with your local lender to see if they participate in this program.

How to Get an EIN

You can apply to the IRS for an EIN in several ways: by phone, fax, mail, or online. Filing online is the easiest way, using the IRS EIN Assistant online application. Using the online or phone option you can get your number immediately.

Before you begin the application process, it’s a good idea to print out a copy of the application form (IRS SS-4) and work through the application questions so you have all the answers you’ll need.

Beware of Fake EIN application sites. They look like the IRS site, but they will charge you to file the form. The IRS never charges for this application. Here are some ways to tell if the site is the "real" IRS:

  • Look at the URL. It should be, NOT
  • Most IRS pages have the letters "IRS" and a special symbol with a scale of justice.
  • Look at the fine print on the bottom of the page. Non-IRS sites are required to state that they are not affiliated with the U.S. Treasury Department or the IRS.

How To Find the EIN for your Business

More often than not, there will be an instance when you are working through a business document or application and you come upon a question asking for your EIN and you can’t remember it. Now what? 

The three best places to find your business EIN: 

  • Your business tax return from a previous year
  • The original document of your receipt or the document you received from the IRS when you applied for your EIN
  • Your state’s business division website, if you registered your partnership, LLC, or corporation with your state 

You could also look for your EIN on other business documents or applications, including

Getting IRS Help to Look Up Your EIN

You can ask the IRS to search for your EIN by calling the Business and Speciality Tax Line at 800-829-4933. This department is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time, Monday through Friday.

Only the “authorized person” for your business can get this information. The IRS will ask for your identification, and you must be able to prove your identity as a sole proprietor, a partner in a partnership, an LLC owner, or a corporate officer. 

State Business Tax ID Numbers

You may also need a tax ID number in order to pay taxes to your state. Even states that have no income tax may have other taxes you'll need to pay. Check with your state's department of revenue for more information.

Finding an EIN for Another Business

Getting someone else’s EIN is a more challenging process. Many of the documents with an EIN on them are public documents (available for public information), but there still is an overall concern about privacy and business identity theft involved.

If the business is a public company (with shares traded to the public), you can look them up on the EDGAR Search service on the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) website.

If the company is not a public company, your search will be more difficult. You might be able to buy a business credit report for the company or you may be able to find another public document that includes the company’s EIN. 

Your Company’s EIN and Business Identity Theft Issues

As you can see, it’s easy for someone to get your business EIN, and they might be able to use it to steal your business identity. The IRS recognizes that a company’s EIN may be the target of hackers and identity thieves. It suggests some ways to be watchful for identity theft related to taxes. Your business may have been hacked if:

  • You receive tax notices about fictitious employees
  • Your business tax return is accepted as amended, but you didn’t file for that year yet
  • You receive bills for a line of credit or a credit card you don’t have

The best way to check for business identity theft is to get a copy of your business credit report. Check it in detail for unexplained creditors, inaccurate or out-of-date information.

Article Sources

  1. Small Business Administration. "Get Federal and State Tax ID Numbers." Accessed July 23, 2020.

  2. IRS. "Do You Need an EIN?" Accessed July 23, 2020.

  3. IRS. "Lost or Misplaced Your EIN?" Accessed July 22, 2020.

  4. IRS. "Tax Practitioner Guide to Business Identity Theft." Accessed July 23, 2020.