How to Get an Employer's Tax ID Number

by Susan Ayers

If you are thinking about starting your own business, you will need to get an employer's tax ID number, which is also called an Employer's Identification Number (EIN). An EIN is a nine-digit number necessary for payroll and W-9 tax form reporting. You need an EIN if you operate your business as a corporation or a partnership. In some cases, an EIN is needed if you want to open a business checking account.

Apply online at the Internal Revenue Service's website to obtain your company's identification number (see Resources). Type "Apply for an EIN" in the site's search box. Once you are on the EIN page, click "Apply Online Now" and simply answer a short series of questions about your business and why you are obtaining an EIN. Once the information you submitted is validated, your EIN is issued immediately. This process is available for businesses located in the United States or U.S. territories. The principal officer or partner of your company must have a valid Social Security number to apply.

Apply by telephone between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. Eastern time Monday through Friday at 800-829-4933. An operator will take your information and provide you with your EIN over the phone. If you are an international applicant, you cannot use the 800 number. The number for international applications is 215-516-6999. This number is not toll free.

Complete a copy of Form SS-4, which is the EIN application form, and then submit it by fax to the IRS. The form is faxed to your state's fax number, which is listed on the IRS website. Look under "Where to File -- Business Forms and Filing Addresses." If you provide your fax number, your EIN will be faxed back to you within four business days.

Mail the completed Form SS-4 to the IRS as an alternative to faxing. The processing time is about four weeks. See the IRS website for more information on mailing your form, including the mailing address, as it may vary by state.

About the Author

Based in Richmond, Va., Susan Ayers is a senior learning associate for a financial organization. She previously developed web-based training for Circuit City and spent a number of years creating eLearning courses for a not-for-profit law enforcement organization. Ayers graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in English from Virginia Commonwealth University and holds a master's in education from St. Joseph's College.

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