A person sits at a computer and tries to set up a tax ID

Small Business Basics: How to Attain a Tax ID Number for Your Small Business

If you're starting a small business, you may need to set up a tax ID number, also known as an employer identification number (EIN), with the IRS. This number is generally required of businesses that meet any of the following criteria:

  • The business is organized as a corporation or partnership.
  • The business employs workers.
  • The business withholds taxes on income, other than wages, that will be paid to a non-resident alien.
  • The business offers a Keogh plan.
  • The business must file excise, employment, or alcohol, tobacco, and firearms tax returns.
  • The business is a plan administrator, farmers’ cooperative, non-profit, real estate mortgage conduit, estate, or non-exempt trust.
  • The business is obtained through a purchase or an inheritance.

 

How is an EIN used?

The IRS assigns EINs to businesses to match entities with their tax obligations. As a small business owner, you'll use the unique number you’re assigned on every federal and state tax document you submit, but you’ll also use it to hire employees, open bank accounts, and apply for business licenses and permits.

 

How can I attain one?

An owner, a partner, or a principal officer who can serve as a responsible party for the business can set up a tax ID number in one of the following four ways:

  1. Online: Visit irs.gov and complete the online application. This option is available to any entity whose principal business, office, or agency is located in the United States or one of its territories.
  2. Fax: Compete IRS Form SS-4 and remit it to the fax number that’s provided here.
  3. Mail: Download Form SS-4 and mail it to the address that’s provided here.
  4. Phone: Call (800) 829-4933 Monday through Friday between the hours of 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. Eastern Time and work through the process with a representative. International applicants should call (267) 941-1099 Monday through Friday between the hours of 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. Eastern Time.

 

Is there an application fee to set up a tax ID number?

No. This is a free service provided by the IRS.

 

Should I have anything prepared?

Yes. You’ll need a valid U.S. identification number, such as a social security number, and essential information about your business, including its address and legal structure. Applicants who don’t have a social security number may apply for an individual taxpayer identification number with Form W-7: IRS Application for Individual Taxpayer Identification Number and provide proof of their legal residence or visitor status in the United States.

If you plan to complete your application online or by phone, you may wish to complete a paper copy of the SS-4 form ahead of time to ensure you have all the information you need for a simple submission.

 

How quickly will I receive my number?

The speed usually depends on the method you use to apply for the tax ID number. In most cases, you can expect to receive your tax ID number according to the following timetable:

Application process

Expected timeframe for receipt

Delivery method

OnlineImmediatelyDigital
FaxWithin four days of receiptReturn fax
MailWithin four weeks of receiptU.S. mail
PhoneImmediatelyPhone

 

Do I need to set up a state tax ID number, too?

Many states require businesses to pay income tax, sales tax, and/or employment tax, and generally, those states require owners to attain a state tax ID number.

The requirements for attaining this number vary by state, but you can contact your state’s tax authority through the phone numbers or site links below to learn about your obligations and the steps you’ll need to take:

Alabama

(334) 242-9600

Hawaii

(800) 222-3229

Massachusetts

(617) 887-6367

New Mexico

(505) 827-0700

South Dakota

(605) 773-3311

Alaska

(907) 465-2500

Idaho

(800) 377-3529

Michigan

(517) 636-6925

New York

(518) 485-2639

Tennessee

(615) 253-0600

Arizona

(602) 255-3381

Illinois

(217) 785-3707

Minnesota

(800) 657-3605

North Carolina

(877) 252-3052

Texas

(800) 252-5555

Arkansas

(501) 682-4775

Indiana

(317) 232-2240

Mississippi

(601) 359-1633

North Dakota

(701) 328-1241

Utah

(800) 662-4335

California

(916) 845-4669

Iowa

(800) 367-3388

Missouri

(573) 751-2836

Ohio

(855) 995-4422

Vermont

(802) 828-2865

Colorado

(303) 238-7378

Kansas

(785) 368-8222

Montana

(406) 444-6900

Oklahoma

(405) 521-3160

Virginia

(804) 367-8037

Connecticut

(860) 509-6000

Kentucky

(502) 564-2694

Nebraska

(402) 471-4079

Oregon

(844) 469-5512

Washington

(360) 705-6705

Delaware

(302) 739-3073

Louisiana

(855) 307-3893

Nevada

(775) 684-5708

Pennsylvania

(833) 722-6778

West Virginia

(866) 767-8683

Florida

(850) 488-6800

Maine

(207) 624-9670

New Hampshire

(603) 230-5000

Rhode Island

(401) 574-8484

Wisconsin

(608) 266-2776

Georgia

(877) 423-6711

Maryland

(410) 260-7314

New Jersey

(609) 292-6400

South Carolina

(844) 898-8542

Wyoming

(307) 777-5200

What else will I need to do?

If you have or plan to hire employees, you must register with the IRS Electronic Filing and Tax Payments System (EFTPS). This system will afford you the ability to make federal payroll tax payments, including federal unemployment taxes and FICA taxes for Social Security and Medicare and income tax payments.

 

What’s next?

Starting a business is a complicated process, but we have articles and advice that can help you with every action you need to take. Log into your owner’s portal for free, personalized guidance that will help you make your venture a success.

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