If you plan to hire employees, you will have to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN). The IRS requires most businesses to obtain an EIN, also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number, to identify employers’ tax accounts.
Do I Need an EIN?
According to the IRS, you should obtain an EIN if you can answer “Yes” to any of the following questions:
The “EIN Assistant” asks you interview-style questions about your company and includes help topics, keywords, and definitions to answer your questions along the way. Your information is validated during your session, so you’ll receive your EIN immediately.
The IRS requires you to complete your application in one session and will end your session after 15 minutes of inactivity. If your session expires, you will have to start over, so make sure you have all the information you need before starting the application. It might be helpful to look at the paper copy of the application before applying online.
The online application is available Monday through Friday from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm, Eastern time.
You are eligible to apply for an EIN online if your principal business, office or agency, or legal residence is in the United States or U.S. Territories. If you’re not located in the United States or U.S. Territories, you will have to apply for an EIN by fax or mail.
To use the online application, you must have a valid Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN); this can be a social security number (SSN) or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).
Apply by Fax
If you can wait a few days for your EIN, you can apply by fax. When you apply by fax, you’ll receive your EIN within four business days.
A Note about Special Characters in Your Business Name
IRS systems will only accept letters, numbers, a hyphen (-), and an ampersand (&). If your business name contains a special character, you have a few different options for entering your business name into the EIN application.
A backslash (\) or a forward slash (/) can be substituted for a hyphen. If your business name is Jones/Smith Enterprises, you can submit your business name as Jones-Smith Enterprises.
Drop the apostrophe, if your legal business name contains an apostrophe (’). For example, if your business name is Smith’s Company, you can submit your business name as Smiths Company.
If your legal business name contains another special character, such as a plus sign (+) or a period (.), you can either spell out the character or replace it with a space. If your business name is Smith.com, you can either submit your business name as Smith Dot Com or Smith Com.
Line 1. Legal Name of Entity (or Individual) for Whom the EIN is being Requested
If you’re beginning your business as a sole proprietorship, you will enter your first name, middle initial, and last name.
If you’re applying for an EIN as a corporation, enter the business name as it appears on the corporate charter or other legal document.
Enter the legal name as it appears in the partnership agreement, if your business is a partnership.
Line 2. Trade Name of Business
You only have to complete Line 2 if the trade name of your business is different than your legal name, if you’re the sole proprietor, or different than the legal business name. Your trade name is known as a fictitious name or a “Doing Business As” (DBA) name.
Line 3. Executor, Administrator, Trustee, “Care of” Name
If someone is designated to receive all IRS correspondence, enter their name on Line 3. If you do not have a designated person, leave Line 3 blank.
Line 7a-b. Name of Responsible Party
Enter the full legal name and SSN or ITIN of the responsible party.
If your business is a sole proprietorship, you can leave Line 7a-b blank. For a corporation, the responsible party will be a president, vice president or other principal officer of the corporation. If your business is a partnership, the responsible party is a general party of the partnership.
Line 9a. Type of Entity
Check the box that best describes the legal structure of your business.
If your business is a corporation, you will also have to include the number of the income tax form you plan to file. Corporation income tax forms include Form 1120 and Form 1120-S.
Line 12. Closing Month of the Accounting Year
Enter the last month of your accounting year. An accounting year is 12 consecutive months and can either be a calendar year or a fiscal year. A calendar year starts on January 1 and ends on December 31. A fiscal year is 12 consecutive months, ending on the last day of any month, other than December.
Line 14. Do You Plan to File Form 944?
If your business’s employment tax liability is $1,000 or less during the full calendar year, the IRS will notify you that you should file Form 944. If you have not received notification, but you have estimated that your employment tax liability will be $1,000 or less for calendar year 2017, and you want to file Form 944 instead of Form 941, you can contact the IRS to make the request.
When your employment tax liability is more than $1,000 during a full calendar year, you will file Form 941, Employers’ Quarterly Federal Tax Return.
Line 15. First Date Wages or Annuities Were Paid
If your business already has employees, enter the date you first began to pay wages. If your business will have employees, enter the date you will begin to pay wages.
Once you have your EIN, you are well on your way to being able to hire your first employee.