The employer's identification number (EIN) is used to identify corporations, partnerships, nonprofit associations, trusts, and similar non-individual entities and must be shown on returns and depository forms used by the employer. An employer without an identification number must apply for one using Form SS-4 (Application for Employer Identification Number).
An employer identification number can be obtained either by mail, fax, telephone or online. The IRS has established a Tele-TIN program that will assign an EIN by telephone. Under this program, an employer can receive an EIN over the telephone and use it immediately to file a return or make a payment. To receive an EIN by telephone, an employer should complete the Form SS-4 and then call the Tele-TIN phone number for the appropriate state listed on the Form SS-4 under "Where to Apply." The person making the call must be authorized to sign the form. An IRS representative will use the information from the SS-4 to establish and assign the account number. At that time, the employer should note the newly assigned account number on the upper right hand corner of the SS-4, sign and date the form, and mail it to the Tele-TIN Unit at the IRS service center for the employer's state.
An employer should have one identification number. An employer who has more than one number and is not sure which number to use should check with the IRS Center where his returns are filed. When contacting the IRS concerning the numbers, the employer should be prepared to provide the numbers he has, the name and address to which each is assigned, and the address of his main place of business.
If an employer took over another employer's business, the number of the employer whose business was taken over should not be used by the one taking over the business. If the employer taking over the business does not have an employer identification number by the time a return is due, "Applied for" and the date the number was applied for should be written in the space provided for the number.