What is an EIN and How Do I Get One?

What is an EIN and How Do I Get One?

What is an EIN and How Do I Get One?

In the upper right hand corner of the PPP application, there is a box asking for your Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN). Although many sole proprietors or independent contractors who don’t have employees file taxes with their Social Security Number (SSN), there are many more small businesses that file with an Employer ID Number (EIN), also known as your Federal Tax Identification Number—the IRS uses this number to identify your business entity.

Does Every Business Need an EIN?

The quick answer is no, but there are circumstances where the IRS requires an EIN to file your taxes. According the IRS, here are circumstances when you will need an EIN:

  • If you have employees
  • If your business is a corporation or a partnership
  • If you file any of the following tax returns:
    • Employment
    • Excise
    • Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
  • If you withhold taxes on income, other than wages, paid to a non-resident alien
  • If you have a Keogh plan
  • If you are involved with any of the following types of organizations:
    • Trusts, except certain grantor-owned revocable trusts, IRAs, Exempt Organization Business Income Tax Returns
    • Estates
    • Real estate mortgage investment conduits
    • Non-profit organizations
    • Farmer’s cooperatives
    • Plan administrators

If any of the above applies to your business, you likely already have an EIN. If you have questions about your business and whether or not this applies to you, you should consult with your accountant or CPA before you apply for the PPP.

The IRS makes it pretty easy to apply for an EIN with an online application, by FAX or by mail.

“Applying for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) is a free service offered by the Internal Revenue Service. Beware of websites on the Internet that charge for this free service.

“All EIN applications (mail, fax, electronic) must disclose the name and Taxpayer Identification Number (SSN, ITIN, or EIN) of the true principal officer, general partner, grantor, owner or trustor. This individual or entity, which the IRS will call the “responsible party,” controls, manages, or directs the applicant entity and the disposition of its funds and assets. Unless the applicant is a government entity, the responsible party must be an individual (i.e., a natural person), not an entity.”

If You’ve Lost or Misplaced Your EIN, What Should You Do to Retrieve It?

Because the EIN is a unique identifier for your business, if you previously applied for and received an EIN for your business, but have since misplaced it, the IRS spells out some things you can do to retrieve it.

  • “Find the computer-generated notice that was issued by the IRS when you applied for your EIN. This notice is issued as a confirmation of your application for, and receipt of an EIN.
  • “If you used your EIN to open a bank account, or apply for any type of state or local license, you should contact the bank or agency to secure your EIN.
  • “Find a previously filed tax return for your existing entity (if you have filed a return) for which you have your lost or misplaced EIN.  Your previously filed return should be notated with your EIN.
  • “Ask the IRS to search for your EIN by calling the Business & Specialty Tax Line at 800-829-4933. The hours of operation are 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. local time, Monday through Friday. An assistor will ask you for identifying information and provide the number to you over the telephone, as long as you are a person who is  authorized to receive it. Examples of an authorized person include, but are not limited to, a sole proprietor, a partner in a partnership, a corporate officer, a trustee of a trust, or an executor of an estate.”

I Don’t Have an EIN, But Need One to Apply for a PPP Loan, How Long Will it Take to Get One?

The IRS advises that you should apply early, but you can get one immediately.

“You can get an EIN immediately by applying online. International applicants must call (267) 941-1099 (Not a toll-free number). If you prefer, you can fax a completed Form SS-4 to the service center for your state, and they will respond with a return fax in about one week. If you do not include a return fax number, it will take about two weeks. If you apply by mail, send your completed Form SS-4 (PDF) at least four to five weeks before you need your EIN to file a return or make a deposit.”

In other words, if you need an EIN to file your application for a PPP loan, you will either need to locate a misplaced EIN or apply for one if you don’t already have one.

Please keep in mind this information is changing rapidly and is based on our current understanding of the programs. It can and likely will change. Although we will be monitoring and updating this as new information becomes available, please do not rely solely on this for your financial decisions. We encourage you to consult with your lawyers, CPAs and Financial Advisors. To review your real-time funding options with one of Nav’s lending experts, please contact us.

This article was originally written on April 10, 2020 and updated on July 18, 2022.

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