Federal Taxpayer Identification Number (EIN)

One of the first things you need to do when you set up a new business is to obtain a Federal Taxpayer Identification Number (EIN) for that business. The Federal Taxpayer Identification Number (sometimes referred to as the Employer Identification Number or EIN) is a nine digit number that the IRS issues and requires to be used to identify the business on all tax filings, think social security number for your business. All corporations must have one. All LLCs with more than one member must have one. All businesses that hire an employee must have one. All businesses that open a business checking account must have one. So, basically, your business must have one.

The good news is it is easy to obtain and it is free. If you apply on line, you get your EIN immediately. To apply online, click here.

If for some reason you prefer the paper route, the form is referred to as SS-4 and it can be accessed here.

Instructions for the paper form are here.

Some states also require that you have a state taxpayer id number. To check if you need that as well, here is a link to the IRS page with links to the various state agencies.

There is a helpful treatment of Federal Taxpayer Identification Number issues on the Small Business Administration web site here and on their blog here.