EIN Series Part Two — How Do I Get An EIN?

Welcome back to MyCorp’s three-part series for Guidant Financial covering the (e)ins and outs of Employer Identification Numbers (EINs)! In part one, we defined EINs and how these nine-digit numbers are formatted for legal identification use. We also provided nine reasons why it’s time to look into filing for an EIN, from opening a business bank account to hiring (or planning to hire) employees. For part two of the series, we’re taking a look at what entrepreneurs need to do to obtain an EIN.

What do you need to know about applying for an EIN? Where can you apply for an employer identification number? Can you apply for multiple EINs daily? Is there anything else you should know before applying — and what happens after you’ve submitted your application?

What Should I Do Before Applying for an EIN?

Before you begin and submit an EIN application, it is advised that you understand whether or not your business is eligible for an EIN. Check these eligibility items off of your list.

  • Is your principal business located in the United States or U.S. territories? If so, you may apply for an EIN.
  • Do you have a valid taxpayer identification number? If not an EIN, this may be a social security number (SSN) or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN).
  • Is your company legally formed? If yes, great! Go ahead and begin the application process. If not, it is strongly advised that you do not apply for an EIN. The IRS presumes that organizations filing for EINs have been legally formed — and those that have not are subject to automatic revocation of their tax-exempt status.

Ready to learn more about becoming a small business owner? Read our Complete Guide to Becoming a Small Business Owner.

How Many EINs Can I Apply For?

The IRS has set a daily limitation to the number of EINs that may be issued out. This rule went into effect on May 21, 2012 and limits applications to one EIN per responsible party per day. Not sure who qualifies as a responsible party? This is term from the IRS given to an individual or entity that controls, manages, or directs the applicant entity and its disposition of its funds and assets.

Is It Expensive to Apply for An EIN?

Not at all! You may apply with the IRS using their free service.

How to Begin Applying for An EIN

There are four ways you can file for an EIN — by mail, via fax, on the phone, or online. Let’s break down what applicants need to know about applying through each available option.

Application pro tip! Before you get started, make sure you have obtained Form SS-4. This is an employer identification number application. It must be completely filled out with the required application whether you file through mail, fax, telephone or online.

Apply for EIN by Mail

Applying for an EIN through the mail means submitting Form SS-4 with all required areas filled out to a specific address noted on the IRS’ website.

Currently, if your principal business is located in one of the 50 states or the District of Columbia, the mailing address for U.S. taxpayers is as follows.

Internal Revenue Service
ATTN: EIN Operation
Cincinnati, OH 45999

MyCorp advises checking in on the site regularly to make sure you are mailing the application to the proper point of contact. Once your form has been received in the mail, expect up to four weeks for the EIN application to be processed.

Applying for EIN by Fax

Do you have Form SS-4 fully completed? Great! You may fax the application to the appropriate fax number. According to the IRS, this number for U.S. taxpayers is (855) 641-6935. Remember to include your fax number to ensure that you receive your EIN within four business days. If your fax number is not included, it may take up to two weeks to receive your EIN.

Applying for EIN by Telephone

This option is available for organizations formed outside of the United States or outside of U.S. territories. International applicants may call (267) 941-1099 from 6 a.m. until 11 p.m. EST to obtain their EIN from Monday through Friday. Keep in mind that this is not a toll-free number and that the individual calling must be authorized to receive the EIN.

Applying for EIN Online

Filing for an EIN online tends to be the most popular choice for applicants. Why is that, exactly?

  • It’s fast, generally taking no more than 15 minutes from start to finish.
  • All entities with a principal business located in the U.S. or U.S. territories may apply online.
  • Applying online also means you’ll get your EIN quickly — receiving an online confirmation as soon as you have completed the application process!

However, there are a few rules of the road to be aware of when applying for an EIN online.

Tips for Applying for Your EIN Online

  1. Before you begin, make sure you have a valid taxpayer identification number on hand. This may be your SSN or ITIN.
  2. There is no time limit to applying for an EIN online. That being said, do not stay on any one page for more than 15 minutes.. If you do, your session on that page will expire and you will need to apply all over again.
  3. There is no option available to save your place and return to it later. It is best advised that you set aside time and come prepared with everything you need before applying.. This ensures that you are able to apply for and receive your EIN in one session without repeatedly coming back again and again.

Once your application is completed and submitted, you’ll receive your EIN immediately via email.

What Happens If I Don’t Receive My EIN?

Let’s say that you submitted your application and haven’t gotten anything back. What’s the best course of action to take next, especially with return and deposit deadlines coming up? For returns, the IRS recommends writing “applied for” and the date you applied for an EIN in the space shown for the number.

For deposits, submit your payment to the service center address for your state. This check should be made payable to the Internal Revenue Service and include your name, address, kind of tax, and period covered, along with the date that you applied for the EIN.

Join us next month for the final post in our EIN series as we take a look at differences between EINs and ITINs and how soon you can use an EIN upon receiving one.

And don’t forget to check out EIN Series Part One – What is an EIN?

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com which provides online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, startup bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent services, DBAs, and trademark and copyright filing services. You can find MyCorporation on Twitter at @MyCorporation.

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