Form SS-4: Applying for an Employer Identification Number

If you’re wondering if you need an Employer Identification Number (EIN), then the answer is most likely a resounding “yes.” These unique identification numbers are used by the Internal Revenue Service to distinguish small businesses as well as corporations, partnerships, trusts, estates, churches, government agencies, Indian tribal entities, and others regarding tax filing and reporting purposes.

Is Form SS-4 For You?

Form SS-4 is an application for a 9-digit identification number for your entity. You’ll need to register for one if any of the following criteria apply:

  • You have employees
  • You operate your business as a partnership or firm
  • You file excise, alcohol, tobacco, employment, or firearms tax returns
  • You withhold taxes on revenue, besides pay, paid to a foreign alien
  • You have a Keogh plan
  • You are involved with most trusts, an IRA, estate, non-profit, real estate mortgage investment conduit, farmers’ cooperative, or plan administrator program

An EIN also serves as an alternative to a Social Security number (SSN). Therefore, while you may not have employees yet, you may want to go ahead and file for an EIN to protect your privacy with clients.

For Businesses with an Existing EIN

While you may have an EIN with your current entity, there are some reasons you may need to file for a new number.

  • Ownership or the structure of the company has changed
  • You incorporated your business
  • You are subject to bankruptcy reports
  • You receive a company that you run as a sole proprietorship

Changes such as altering your company’s name or getting a new address do not require obtaining a new EIN.

Taking the Next Step

It’s easy and free to apply for an EIN. You can either apply online through the IRS website, call the IRS team, or download Form SS-4 and send it in by mail. Check out these complete instructions before submitting your form. As an employer, you’re now responsible for not only your own taxes but for tax withholding from your workers’ wages. For guidelines to your employment tax responsibilities, check out Publication 15, a comprehensive employer’s tax guide.

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