Ready to hire your first employee, or are you required to provide an Employer Identification Number on government and bank forms? Getting an EIN from the IRS can be done entirely online. There's a do-it-yourself option, or you can use an online filing service.
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What is an Employer Identification Number?
An employer identification number (EIN) is a nine-digit number assigned by the Internal Revenue Services (IRS) to identify a business for reporting and tax purposes.
The most common reasons a business will need an EIN is if it plans to hire employees or is a corporation or partnership. In addition, a Limited Liability Company (LLC) with multiple members (owners) or a single-member LLC that will be taxed as an S-corporation will also need a federal EIN. Learn more about other reasons on the IRS website.
With a federal EIN, you will be able to send collected payroll taxes to the IRS and use it on IRS tax and employment forms instead of using your social security number. You may also need an EIN to apply for a business license or open a business bank account.
A Federal EIN is a unique tax identification number for businesses.
Many states also require a State Employer Identification Number (SEIN) for businesses that have employees--this is a separate EIN from the federal EIN you get from the IRS.
Check if your state requires a State EIN or State Tax ID. If yes, you will need to apply for one on your state's website, not with the IRS.
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How To Get a Federal Employer Identification Number
There are two options for getting a federal employer identification number (EIN). You can get one for free on the IRS website or use an online filing service.
1. Do-It-Yourself on the IRS website (Free Option)
The IRS offers a free service on its website to apply for an EIN. There are three options for you to apply for an EIN:
Apply by Mail
Apply by Fax
The easiest option is to apply online directly on the IRS website. Or, if you choose to apply by mail or fax, you will need to download and complete Form SS-4 and follow the instructions on where to mail or fax your form.
Before you apply online, review Form SS-4 and know what information the IRS will request about your business.
2. Use an Online Filing Service (Paid Option)
As with most IRS forms, they can sometimes be difficult to fill out since there can be sections you might not know how to complete correctly. Most importantly, you don't want to make mistakes on IRS forms, especially regarding your business.
If you found Form SS-4 difficult to complete, then it's best to leave it to the experts and use an online filing service. They can help you complete the form and submit it to the IRS on your behalf.
Here are some popular online services that have excellent online reviews from many business owners who have used them to obtain an EIN:
Use ZenBusiness if you are considering forming a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or corporation.
Not ideal for sole proprietors or partnerships unless you want to convert your business into an LLC or corporation.
Swyft Filings offers a separate service for obtaining an EIN. You can also get an EIN when you use their service to form an LLC or corporation.
An excellent option for sole proprietors and partnerships that need an EIN but don't what to convert into an LLC or corporation.
Not sure which one? Compare prices and package features and see which one offers a better deal. If you are a sole proprietor or partnership, use Swyft Filings.
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