Running a business involves a lot of information and new documents. You’re probably learning that you have a business credit score for example, and that you can check it for free with places like Nav. If you’re filing your business taxes or thinking of applying for business financing for the first time, you might be scrambling to find a few things for the application. One thing that likely stands out is your Employer Identification Number (EIN), a unique nine-digit number assigned to your business by the IRS. You can think of it as your company’s social security number. In order to know what your EIN is, you’ll need to file Form SS-4 with the IRS. Once the IRS has assigned an EIN to your business, you’ll receive your Form SS-4 notice, which serves as verification of your EIN to potential lenders.
The Form SS-4 notice differs from the Form SS-4 in that a Form SS-4 is simply the application for an EIN, and the notice is proof that you have an EIN.
Why You Need Your Form SS-4 Notice
Anytime you apply for a business loan, you’ll likely see ‘Form SS-4’ listed as one of the required documents. Be aware that this does NOT refer to the Form SS-4, but to the Form SS-4 notice, which is proof that your entity has been issued an EIN by the IRS. It’d be like submitting your application for a driver’s license instead of providing the actual issued license, although there are no cards issued for an EIN.
You won’t be able to use your tax returns as verification of your EIN, because errors on business tax returns are common and your lender knows this. Without the Form SS-4 Notice, your loan application process could be delayed, putting your business behind schedule on any big plans you may have.
How to Get Your Form SS-4 Notice
Form SS-4, the application for an EIN, is available online. You’ll need information about your business, including the administrator or trustee of your business, and name of responsible party along with their social security number or tax ID. You’ll also need to know what type of entity your business is (sole proprietor, partnership, corporation, non-profit, etc.). You can apply online as well.
While your Form SS-4 notice will usually arrive within two weeks, it is recommended that you apply at least four or five weeks prior to when you need your EIN in case of any hangups in the process. That means you should look ahead to when you anticipate you’ll be applying for credit, filing taxes, or any other activity for which you’ll need your EIN, and time it out correctly.
What If I Lose My Form SS-4 Notice?
In the unfortunate situation that you can’t find your Form SS-4 notice, you will not be able to receive a new physical copy. However, hope is not lost. You can contact a lender with whom you previously applied for credit, check old tax returns, or look for the computer-generated notice that was sent to you when your entity was issued an EIN. You should always verify in this situation that you have the correct number by calling the IRS. As long as an authorized person makes the call and has verifiable information available, they should be able to provide the number over the phone.
Despite stereotypes, the IRS has a system in place to help you out in this situation. Be sure to use the resources available to make sure your information is in your hands and correct. By having all the necessary information in place, you can be prepared to take the next steps with your business.