How do I get an EIN?
An EIN is an Employer Identification Number used by the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) to identify a business entity. This nine-digit number is used for tax-filing and reporting purposes - it functions similarly to how a SSN functions for an individual.
A business will typically file for an EIN when they are formed. If your business has employees, then you likely will have an EIN. The common exception to not needing an EIN is if you are a single-member LLC as you can use your social security number to file your taxes. However, if your entity has employees, then even a single-member LLC will need to file for an EIN.
Obtaining an EIN from the IRS is a fairly straightforward process. The IRS offers a handful of ways in which you can file for and receive an EIN:
- Online Application
- Mail Application
- Phone Application
An online application via the IRS is one of the more common methods for obtaining an EIN given how quick and efficient it can be. The beauty is that once you complete the application, you will immediately receive your EIN. Head over to the IRS website and follow their outlined steps to fill out your application and get the process started on receiving your EIN. This process is fairly instantaneous once you complete all the relevant steps on the application.
Filling out an application and sending it in via mail or fax is definitely an "old school" way of going about this. While it isn't necessarily quick nor practical, it will still get the job done and result in you obtaining an EIN. In order to apply via mail, you need to fill out a form SS-4 and then submit it by fax or mail. This process tends to take around four to six weeks to receive your EIN.
Mail a completed Form SS-4 to:
Internal Revenue Service
Attn: EIN Operation
Cincinnati, OH 45999
Fax a completed Form SS-4 to:
Applying by phone is not a common way to go about this, but it is a valid path forward. In order to apply for your EIN, you will need to call the IRS Business & Specialty Tax Line. You'll need to follow their prompts and answer the questions accordingly. This process tends to take up to two weeks to finalize your EIN.
IRS Phone Number:
It's one thing to know how to get an EIN, but that is worthless if you don't know when you should do it. Let's break down the relevance of this question based on two high level categories. We'll walk through an explanation as well as provide a score, 1-10, that shows you how relevant this question is whether you do or don’t have a product.
The first scenario we will walk through will be if you do not have a product yet. Whether it is a website or a mobile app, you are still in the ideation or planning phase and have not yet built anything. Maybe you have started development but just aren’t finished with your first version. Whichever it is, we'll get into why this question is or isn’t relevant and why you should or shouldn't care about it if you do not have a product.
If you don't have a product, then you likely are at the earlier stages of your business journey. This means that you probably aren't out in market nor have revenue. If that is the case, you don't need to worry about an EIN just yet, but be aware of it as once you set up your business, you will need an EIN. If you are a sole-proprietary of an LLC and don't have employees, then you don't need to worry about an EIN at all.
Live Product: 8/10
The second category is if you do have a live product. Maybe you just launched your business or maybe it's been live for years and you're continuing to improve its quality and release new features. Regardless of the scenario, if your product is live, this question carries a different weight of relevance.
If you have a product and your business is live, then you more than likely will need an EIN, so be familiar with this process. Again, if you are the sole-member of your LLC and don't have employees, then you don't need an EIN as you will use your SSN to file your taxes.
Filing for an EIN can be an annoying process to do alone. It is something that can require a lot of time and even more critical thinking. Thankfully, there are tools and services out there that can help you through this journey. Keep reading below to find out more!
While you can complete this fairly simply on your own, if you are busy, you can leverage legal services to complete this process. If you are using a legal service to help register your business, then you should leverage that same service to complete your EIN application. You can read more on top legal services to help you establish your business in our blog post on how to start an LLC.
Here is a highlight of those legal services we would recommend looking into:
- Incfile - $0 + state fees
- Doola - $197 + state fees
- ZenBusiness - $199 + state fees
- LegalZoom - $79 + state fees
- RocketLawyer - $39.99/month
Keep in mind, these prices aren't for only filing your EIN, they include a suite of services that you may need for your business.
- An EIN is like the SSN for a business, used by the IRS to identify your entity and allow you to file taxes.
- All business typically need an EIN. The most common exception is a single-member LLC without employees.
- While you can file for an EIN alone, there are tons of services out there that can help you.