Use Form SS-4 to apply for an employer identification number (EIN). An EIN is a nine-digit number assigned to sole proprietors, corporations, partnerships, estates, trusts, and other entities for filing and reporting purposes.
You must file Form SS-4 if you have not obtained an EIN before and:
- you pay wages to one or more employees,
- you are required to have an EIN to use on any return, statement, or other document even if you are not an employer,
- you are a withholding agent required to withhold taxes on income, other than wages, paid to a non-resident alien, or
- you file Schedule C (Profit or Loss From Business) or Schedule F (Profit or Loss From Farming) of Form 1040 (US Individual Income Tax Return) and you have a Keogh plan or are required to file excise, employment, or alcohol, tobacco, or firearms returns.
The following entities must have EINs even if they do not have any employees:
- trusts, except certain grantor owned revocable trusts and IRA trusts,
- real estate mortgage investment conduits (REMICs),
- non-profit organizations,
- farmer's' cooperatives, and
- plan administrators.
If you become the new owner of an existing business, do not use the EIN of the previous owner. If you already have an EIN, use that number. If you do not have an EIN, apply for one on Form SS-4. If you become the owner of a corporation by acquiring all of its stock, use that corporation's EIN.
If you already have an EIN, you may need to get a new one if either the organization or ownership of your business changes. If you incorporate a sole proprietorship or form a partnership, you must get a new EIN. Do not apply for a new EIN if you change only the name of your business.
File only one Form SS-4 regardless of the number of businesses operated or trade names under which a single business operates. File a separate Form SS-4 for each corporation in an affiliated group.
An employer identification number can be obtained either by mail, telephone or online.