How To Get a Federal Tax ID Number

Many government forms will require you to enter your business' Federal Tax Number or Employer Identification Number (EIN). This number is used by several federal entities to identify your business for regulation purposes. While the IRS doesn't require all types of businesses to apply for one, it's generally a good idea to get your Tax ID Number anyway. Getting one is easy, and shouldn't take too much time. Here's how:

  1. Contact the IRS field office closest to you, or visit the IRS website at, and get a copy of IRS Form SS-4, the Application for Employer Identification Number.
  2. Fill the form up as instructed. A set of instructions can be conveniently found on the IRS website.
  3. Your company's "Trade Name of Business" is the name you want your customers to recognize. For example, while your company's legal name might be registered as "Johnson and Smith, Inc," you may want your customers to see the name "Johnson-Smith" instead. Enter the company's legal name in item 1 and your desired trade name in item 2.
  4. Identify your executor, or the individual you'd like to have in charge of your company's legal matters, in item 3. Be sure to include one of his or her legal identification numbers, like a Social Security number, ITIN, or EIN.
  5. In case your business is an LLC your run with your spouse, you may want to enter "1" on line 8b. Do this if you both are the business' sole owners in a community property state and want to treat it as a "disregarded entity."
  6. Item 9a refers to how you want your business to be taxed. Consult your CPA before answering this.
  7. Item 10 requires you to provide a description of your company if you answered "Started a new business." Keep the description short and to the point. Any other answers on the form should follow this rule of thumb as well.
  8. You can enter any reasonable date, such as the day you opened your establishment's doors to the public, as the "Date Business Started." This has ramifications on the way your business will be taxed, so check with your CPA regarding any tax implications.
  9. Item 12, selecting the closing month of your accounting year, also affects taxation, so again, check with your CPA.
  10. If you won't be having any employees, or will be paying less than $4000 in employee wages for the year, answer "no" in item 14.
  11. You might want to identify your attorney as your "third party designee" should you need him or her to represent you in certain matters.
  12. Double-check every answer before you sign the form. Once you declare that everything is indeed "true, correct, and complete," you can send it in online. An EIN will be issued to you almost immediately after. Print it out or write it down as you'll need the number for various forms and documents. Keep any confirmation notices you may receive on file as well.


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