What is an EIN: The Ultimate Tax ID Guide

Are you starting a business and feeling overwhelmed by all the technical jargon? Let’s demystify one of these terms for you: EIN. Often mentioned but rarely explained, an EIN, or Employer Identification Number, is a cornerstone of starting an LLC.

Luckily, the folks at LLCBase are here to lighten your load. This unique nine-digit code is essentially the business world’s equivalent of a Social Security Number. Created and regulated by the IRS, it’s an identifier the government uses to monitor your business’s tax obligations and filings. So, buckle up as we dive into the world of EIN and, more importantly, understand why you need one.

What is an EIN

The EIN serves several important functions for a U.S. business. Opening business bank accounts, applying for business loans, and filing business tax returns are required. It is also used when hiring employees, as it appears on payroll tax withholding forms. Additionally, the EIN helps differentiate individual business entities, even if they are in the same line of business or geographical area, leading to better organization and accuracy in tax administration.

An EIN, once assigned to a business, is permanent. Even if a business closes its operations, the EIN associated with it will not be reused. This aligns with its purpose to provide a unique identity to the business.

Moreover, business entities can apply for and receive an EIN, including sole proprietorships, corporations, partnerships, non-profits, government agencies, and certain individuals. Providing unique identification to each business entity, the EIN aids the IRS in tracking the financial activities of businesses and ensuring they meet their tax obligations.

Obtaining an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your LLC is critical to your business formation. Choosing one of the best LLC formation services gives you the guidance and expertise to navigate the complex process swiftly.

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Requirements for an EIN

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has specific reporting requirements that require certain companies to secure an Employer Identification Number (EIN). This is mandatory in a series of situations outlined by the IRS. The IRS mandates a company to apply for and receive an EIN:

  • If that business has any employees. In this circumstance, the EIN is necessary for tracking and reporting purposes.
  • If the business structure is set up as a corporation or a partnership, the IRS also necessitates the acquisition of an EIN. This is due to particular tax obligations these types of businesses must fulfill.
  • If the circumstance involves tax returns concerning employment, excise, or those related to alcohol, tobacco, and firearms. Companies that file these types of tax returns require an EIN for proper monitoring by the IRS.
  • If they withhold taxes on income that is paid out to non-resident aliens. This is to ensure there’s a correct record of taxes for individuals not residing within the United States.
  • If it involves companies that have a Keogh plan. A Keogh plan is a tax-deferred pension plan available to self-employed individuals or unincorporated businesses for retirement purposes. Businesses with this type of plan need an EIN to report the plan’s activities correctly.
  • If it involves certain organizations, this includes but is not limited to trusts, estates, or non-profit organizations. The wide range of activities and tax obligations of these entities necessitates the inclusion of an EIN for better monitoring and accountability.

While not all companies need an EIN, the IRS requires it in these circumstances. This allows the government agency to track and ensure all appropriate taxes are managed and reported correctly.

Top Things You Need to Know About EIN

An EIN is for more than employers – even sole proprietorships may need one in certain circumstances. It does not expire and remains with the business entity until it is closed down or ownership/structure is substantially changed. In addition, the IRS does not consider EINs as sensitive information, and they are often used by public-facing businesses instead of an owner’s SSN.

  1. EIN as ID Number: An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is a nine-digit number issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It’s a Social Security number for businesses, allowing the IRS to identify taxpayers who must file various business tax returns.
  2. EIN is Free: You can obtain an EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. Be wary of platforms or services charging a fee for obtaining an EIN; it’s a service provided for free by the government.
  3. EIN is Permanently Assigned: Once an EIN has been issued to an entity, it cannot be reused or transferred to another business entity. The IRS records all the assigned EINs for security and tracking purposes.
  4. Who Needs An EIN: If you operate a business, have employees, or meet certain IRS criteria, you may need an EIN. Corporations, partnerships, and non-profit organizations, among others, all require an EIN. Even some freelancers and sole proprietors may need one.
  5. EIN for Banking and Business Licensing: Banks may require an EIN to open a business account or apply for a business loan. Moreover, some cities or states might require an EIN for business licenses or permits.
  6. Privacy Protection: For sole proprietors, using an EIN for business transactions rather than their personal Social Security number can provide privacy protection. It can help separate personal and business finances and reduce the chance of identity theft.
  7. EIN Is Not a Requirement for All Businesses: Some small businesses, particularly sole proprietors without employees, may not need an EIN and can use the owner’s personal Social Security number instead.
  8. Multiple EINs: Sometimes, a company may require more than one EIN. For instance, if a corporation operates several subsidiary companies that run independently, each might need its own EIN.
  9. EINs Don’t Expire: Once the IRS issues an EIN to a business, that number is valid for perpetuity. However, a new EIN might be required if the business structure or ownership changes significantly.
  10. Replacement of Lost EIN: If a business owner needs to remember their EIN, they can call the IRS’ Business and Specialty Tax Line to retrieve it. The IRS will ensure you are authorized before sharing the EIN over the phone.


An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is a unique identifier the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) assigns to businesses operating in the United States. Like a Social Security Number (SSN) is used to identify individuals for tax purposes, an EIN identifies a business entity for tax administration. It’s used to open business accounts, apply for business licenses, file tax returns, and do other business-related activities. It’s the corporate equivalent of a personal SSN and is essential for any business, regardless of size.

On the other hand, a Tax Identification Number (TIN) is a general term used by the IRS. It includes a variety of identification numbers, such as SSN, EIN, and Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). An ITIN is a tax processing number issued by the IRS to individuals who are required to have a U.S. taxpayer identification number but who do not have and are not eligible to obtain an SSN. That includes foreign nationals and others with federal tax reporting or filing requirements who do not qualify for SSN. While an EIN is specifically for businesses, a TIN can refer to any tax identification number, including an EIN.

EIN serves as an identifier for your business for tax purposes and other business activities. Be aware of the requirements, the process to obtain one, and the benefits it provides for your business.

Benefits of an Employer Identification Number

Here are some of the important benefits of EIN for your LLC.

1. Easy Business Formation

Forming a business involves several legal processes, and obtaining an Employer Identification Number (EIN) simplifies these processes by providing your business with a unique identifier. This identifier is essential and often mandatory for numerous business-related applications and obtaining licenses, ensuring smooth interactions with federal agencies. The EIN proves the legal existence of your business entity and allows you to conduct business operations, enter into contracts, and abide by tax laws appropriately.

2. Opening a Business Bank Account

Most financial institutions will ask for your EIN when opening a business bank account. This number is much more than a banking requirement; it distinguishes your personal finances from your business finances, ensuring clarity and accuracy in bookkeeping. Having a separate business account under your EIN makes your tax preparation process easier, prevents personal and business funds from commingling, and portrays professionalism in your transactions.

3. Hiring Employees

EIN plays a critical role in the process of hiring employees. In compliance with Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations, employers must have an EIN to withhold and report taxes appropriately. Having an EIN provides documentation that you’re operating a legitimate business and are committed to following employment tax laws. It also lets you set up payroll, pay employees, and provide them with necessary year-end tax documentation.

4. Keeping Personal Information Private

You may be asked to provide a taxpayer identification number in many business dealings. Using your EIN in these cases, instead of your personal Social Security number, protects your privacy and reduces the risk of identity theft. An EIN offers an extra layer of security to your personal data and ensures that your personal and business identities remain separate in your business transactions and reporting.

5. Establishing Business Credit

Just as an individual’s social security number is linked to their personal credit history, your EIN is tied to your business’s credit history. This helps create a distinct credit profile for your business, separate from your personal credit. Over time, as you use your EIN in financial transactions, your business can build up its creditworthiness. This can make securing business loans easier and also increase your business’s credibility in the eyes of financial institutions and potential partners or clients.

Obtaining Your EIN: A Guide

Starting a business can be exhilarating and demanding, especially when setting up an LLC. A crucial phase in forming your LLC involves securing an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This distinct nine-digit number is requisite for tax filing and other business undertakings. Here is the step-by-step guide to obtaining an EIN for your LLC.

Step 1: Determine if Your LLC Needs an EIN

When obtaining an Employer Identification Number, the first thing to consider is if your business needs one. Most businesses operating in the United States need an EIN for tax purposes. However, keep in mind that it’s not every LLC that will require an EIN. Only LLCs with employees, or those that decide to be taxed as corporations or partnerships, will need an EIN. If your LLC doesn’t fall under these categories, it’s essential to consider whether obtaining an EIN benefits your LLC’s particular situation.

Step 2: Visit the IRS Website

The application process for an EIN is straightforward and free of cost on the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) official website. Navigate through the website until you reach the EIN section. The “Apply for an EIN” option can be found under the “Businesses” dropdown bar. Once there, you can begin the online EIN application process.

Step 3: Complete the Form SS-4

You will be asked to complete the form with the necessary information about your business. Form SS-4 is the form the IRS uses to assign the Employer Identification Number for tax filing and reporting purposes. The information you need to provide includes your business’s legal name, a DBA name if applicable, the mailing address, the name and SSN of the responsible party, and an explanation for why you’re applying for the EIN.

Step 4: Submit the Application

After you have completed all of the required fields in the form, the last step is to review the information carefully to ensure that everything is correct and accurate. Ensuring the accurate submission of Form SS-4 is vital in preventing future complications related to taxation. Once you’ve reviewed it, you can apply. The IRS will then verify your information and present you with your unique EIN. This EIN is your LLC’s permanent federal taxpayer identification number and will never expire.

Be aware that while you immediately receive your EIN upon completion of the application, it can take up to two weeks before the EIN becomes part of the IRS’s permanent records. You should wait until this two-week period ends before you file an electronic return, make an electronic payment, or pass an IRS Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) matching program.

Step 5: Receive Your LLC EIN

Upon validation, the IRS will assign you an EIN. You can then download and print your confirmation notice for your records.

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Closing Your EIN

Closing an EIN account is a crucial step to take when you discontinue your business. Whether you have sold your business or closed its operations, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) must be informed so that your EIN account can be closed. This is important as it ensures you don’t have an open account that could be misused or create confusion in the tax administration process. It also prevents any possible mix-ups or miscommunications with the IRS regarding tax liabilities associated with that EIN.

To close your EIN account, you must send a formal written notice to the IRS. This letter should include your complete legal business name, the Employer Identification Number (EIN), and the business address associated with the EIN. This information helps the IRS identify your business entity and the correct account to close.

In your letter, specify the reason for closing the account, such as the sale of the business, bankruptcy, or because the business entity was dissolved. The IRS will not necessarily remove the EIN from its records, but it will mark the number as “closed” to signify no tax reporting will be under that EIN. Closing your EIN account is an administrative task that legally separates you from any further tax obligations associated with that EIN. Always ensure to retain a copy of this letter for your records.


What does EIN stand for?
EIN stands for Employer Identification Number.
What is the purpose of an EIN?
The purpose of an EIN is to identify a business entity for tax purposes.
Are EIN and TIN the same thing?
No, EIN and TIN are not the same thing. While both are unique identifiers assigned by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), EIN is for business entities and TIN (Tax Identification Number) is for individuals.
Who should have an EIN?
Any business entity, such as corporations, partnerships or limited liability companies, which needs to file business tax returns, should have an EIN.
Why is it necessary to acquire an EIN when starting a business?
Acquiring an EIN makes business formation process easy, helps in opening a business bank account, hiring employees, keeping personal information private, and establishing business credit.
How does having an EIN help in maintaining privacy?
Having an EIN helps in maintaining privacy as it eliminates the need to provide your personal social security number in business documents.
Can an EIN help in establishing business credit?
Yes, an EIN can help in establishing business credit as it allows businesses to apply for credit under the business name, separate from the owner’s personal credit.
How can you apply for an EIN?
You can apply for an EIN online through the IRS’s website, by mail, or by fax.
Can multiple businesses share one EIN?
No, each business entity must have its own EIN.
Is there a fee for getting an EIN?
No, the IRS does not charge a fee to apply for an EIN.
Are there any specific requirements to be eligible for an EIN?
The main requirement for getting an EIN is that the business must be located in the United States.
Can you change or cancel an EIN once it’s been assigned?
An EIN cannot be changed or cancelled once it’s been assigned by the IRS. However, you can close your business account with the IRS.
When should an EIN be used?
An EIN should be used when filing tax returns, opening business bank accounts, and hiring employees.
Will my EIN expiration?
No, an EIN does not expire.
Can I use my EIN number instead of my social security number?
Yes, businesses can use their EIN number in place of a social security number for business-related activities.
What happens if I lose my EIN?
If you lose your EIN, you can contact the IRS to retrieve it.
Can a non-US resident get an EIN?
Yes, a non-US resident who operates a business in the United States can get an EIN.
Is an EIN required for a sole proprietorship?
A sole proprietorship may not always need an EIN, but it could be beneficial for opening bank accounts, and for hiring employees.
What documents are needed to apply for an EIN?
The main document needed to apply for an EIN is the SS-4 form, which is provided by the IRS.
Can a business operate without an EIN?
While it is possible for some businesses to operate without an EIN, it is generally required for tax purposes and for other business activities like opening a bank account, hiring employees and establishing credit.

How to Find My Ein Number

If you’re a business owner, freelancer, or self-employed individual, it’s crucial that you have an EIN in order to conduct business legally and comply with tax regulations. But what do you do if you’ve misplaced or forgotten your EIN? Don’t worry, finding your EIN is not as complicated as you might think.

The first place you should check for your EIN is on any official documentation you have received from the IRS. This could include tax returns, W-9 forms, or any correspondence you have had with the IRS regarding your business. Your EIN should be clearly printed on these documents, making it easy to locate.

If you can’t find your EIN on any paperwork, don’t panic. There are other ways to retrieve this important number. One option is to call the IRS Business & Specialty Tax Line at 1-800-829-4933. Be prepared to provide identifying information about your business, such as your name, address, and social security number, in order to verify your identity. The IRS representative should be able to provide you with your EIN over the phone.

Another option is to check with your bank. Many financial institutions require an EIN in order to open a business account, so they may have this information on file. You can also check any loan or credit applications you have submitted, as lenders often require an EIN as part of the application process.

If all else fails, you can request a copy of your EIN confirmation letter from the IRS. You can do this by filling out Form SS-4, Application for Employer Identification Number, and submitting it to the IRS. Be sure to include as much identifying information as possible to expedite the process.

Remember, it’s important to keep your EIN in a safe place once you have located it. You may need this number for various tax and business transactions in the future, so it’s best to have it readily accessible. Additionally, be cautious about sharing your EIN with others, as it can be used for identity theft or fraudulent purposes.

Finding your EIN may seem daunting at first, but with a little effort and persistence, you should be able to locate this important number. Whether you choose to contact the IRS, consult your bank, or fill out a form, there are several options available to help you find your EIN and continue conducting business legally and responsibly.


In the world of business and entrepreneurship, understanding the importance of an EIN is vital. This unique nine-digit number is more than just a number; it’s your business’s passport to legitimacy in the eyes of the IRS and, ultimately, the world. From opening a bank account for your business to hiring employees and filing tax returns, having an EIN is essential to a smoothly functioning and accountable business.

Got more questions about how to navigate the business ecosystem? LLCBase has you covered. Whether you need clarification on LLCs, EINs, or business structures, we’re here to support you in setting strong footings for your business’s future. Visit our website for many valuable information, resources, and dedicated services. Your business journey is ours too. Don’t get lost in the jargon – nail the basics with LLCBase.

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