Every business in the United States has a unique nine-digit number known as an Employer Identification Number (EIN). It functions similarly to a Social Security number but for businesses. When you need to track this down for your business or another entity, the process is often referred to as an EIN number lookup. This guide will walk you through the steps of conducting an EIN number lookup for your business or another entity.
Understanding EIN Number Lookup
Conducting an EIN lookup is not as daunting as it sounds. It essentially involves finding the EIN of a business. This unique identifier is issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to businesses operating in the United States. It’s used for tax reporting purposes and is sometimes needed for other business-related transactions like opening a business bank account or applying for a business license.
How to Conduct an EIN Number Lookup for Your Business
If you have misplaced your EIN or simply forgotten it, there are several ways to find it. Firstly, try referring back to the original confirmation letter from the IRS that came with your EIN. If you can’t find this, consider calling the IRS’s Business & Specialty Tax Line at 1-800-829-4933. Remember to have all your business information ready, as the IRS will ask some qualifying questions to confirm your identity.
Another EIN lookup method is to check previous tax returns, as your EIN will be listed on these. If your business has a bank account, your bank will also have this information. Lastly, if your EIN was used for any state agency or local authority applications, such as for a business license or permit, these agencies should also have your EIN on record.
How to Look Up Your LLC’s EIN
If you need to look up your Limited Liability Company’s (LLC) Employer Identification Number (EIN), there are several ways you can go about it:
1. IRS Correspondence
The simplest way to locate your EIN is to refer to the original confirmation letter the IRS sent when you first obtained your EIN. If you saved this document, your EIN would be listed there.
2. Contact the IRS
If you’ve misplaced your IRS confirmation letter, call the IRS’s Business & Specialty Tax Line at 1-800-829-4933. An IRS representative will verify your identity and your association with the business before providing you with the EIN.
3. Review Past Tax Returns
Your EIN will be listed on your business tax returns. If you’ve filed taxes for your LLC in the past, you can find your EIN on the return copy.
4. Business Documents and Licenses
You may find your EIN on official documents or licenses related to your business. If you used your EIN to apply for business licenses, permits, or bank accounts, these documents or records would typically include your EIN.
5. Bank or Financial Institutions
If you opened a business bank account using your EIN, the bank would have this number on record. Contact your bank, and after verifying your identity, they should be able to provide you with the EIN.
Remember that while knowing and having access to your EIN for legitimate business purposes is essential, it’s equally important to keep this information secure to prevent potential identity theft or fraudulent activity.
Paid Method of Finding an EIN for a Business
Several methods are available for businesses or individuals who need to find an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for a business and are willing to pay for the service. These primarily involve business credit reporting agencies and third-party services.
1. Business Credit Reports
Running a business credit report is one effective way to find a business’s EIN. Major credit reporting agencies, such as Experian, Equifax, or Dun & Bradstreet, can provide a comprehensive business credit report that includes the business’s EIN. Note that these services usually come with a cost. Prices can vary, so it is best to check with each agency to find out the cost of obtaining a business credit report.
2. Private Investigation Services
Professional investigation services can locate a business’s EIN for a fee. These companies typically have access to extensive databases and resources, allowing them to provide this information accurately and quickly. However, the service’s cost, time, and reliability can vary between companies, so it’s important to research and choose a reputable service provider.
3. Commercial Database Services
Some online commercial database services offer access to a business’s EIN. These databases usually require a subscription or one-time access fee. They compile data from various public and private sources, making it relatively easy to obtain an EIN.
It’s essential to remember that while these paid methods can simplify the process of obtaining an EIN, all use of EINs should comply with privacy laws and regulations. EINs are sensitive information and should be used responsibly and legally.
Locating Another Business’s EIN
If you’re trying to find the EIN of another business, the process can be slightly more complex. If the company is publicly traded, its EIN should be listed on the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) EDGAR online Forms and Filings database. If you’re a vendor or have some relationship with the company, you could simply ask for it. Finally, for non-profit organizations, their EIN should be listed in the IRS tax-exempt organization search.
When Does a Sole Proprietorship Require an EIN?
As a sole proprietor, you generally use your Social Security Number (SSN) as your tax identification number. However, there are circumstances when you, as a sole proprietor, would need to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS:
1. Hiring Employees
If you hire employees to work for your business, you are required to obtain an EIN for tax reporting purposes. This allows the IRS to track employer tax obligations accurately.
2. Establishing a Keogh Plan
If you’re setting up a Keogh plan, a tax-deferred pension plan available to self-employed individuals or unincorporated businesses for retirement purposes, you will need an EIN.
3. Involvement in Certain Financial Activities
If your business involves certain types of financial activity, you might need an EIN. This includes filing for bankruptcy, buying or inheriting an existing business, or establishing a trust, among other things.
4. Filing Excise Tax Returns
If you’re required to file excise tax returns, such as those for alcohol, tobacco, or firearms, you will need an EIN.
While these situations require a sole proprietor to obtain an EIN, it’s often a good idea to get one anyway. Having an EIN can help protect your personal SSN from being overused, which can increase the risk of identity theft. An EIN is also often required to open a business bank account, and it can lend credibility to your business by showing that you’re committed to it as a professional enterprise.
Protecting Sensitive Information
While conducting an EIN lookup is relatively straightforward, it’s essential to remember the sensitivity of this information. The IRS maintains strict protocols to protect this data, and as business owners or those authorized, we should follow suit. Ensure that you only use this information for legitimate business purposes and protect it from misuse.
How to Get a Free EIN?
Securing an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your business doesn’t have to cost anything. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provides this service for free. Here are the steps to obtain a free EIN:
1. Determine Eligibility
Before you begin, ensure that your business is based in the United States and that you (or the responsible party for the business) have a valid Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN), which could be a Social Security Number (SSN) or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).
2. Apply Online Through the IRS EIN Assistant
The quickest and simplest way to get a free EIN is to apply online through the IRS EIN Assistant. This service is available Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern Time.
You must complete the application in one session, as the IRS does not save your information. The session usually expires after 15 minutes of inactivity, so be prepared to complete the form in one sitting.
3. Fill Out the Necessary Information
The online EIN application will ask for information about your business, such as the legal name, the trade name (if different), the address, and the entity type. It will also ask about the reasons for applying, the number of employees (if any), and the type of business and services provided.
4. Submit the Application
Once you’ve completed the form, review your information, then apply. The system should generate an EIN for your business immediately after submission.
5. Save Your EIN Confirmation Letter
After your EIN is generated, you’ll receive an EIN Confirmation Letter from the IRS. Save this document securely, as it’s your official proof of your EIN.
Remember, you can also apply for an EIN by fax or mail by completing Form SS-4. However, these methods take longer. You should receive your EIN within four business days if you fax your application. If you mail your application, it may take up to four weeks.
An EIN number lookup can be straightforward if you know where to look. Whether you’re trying to find your own EIN or that of another business, multiple avenues are available to you. Just remember, while EINs are crucial for many business transactions, they are sensitive pieces of information that should be handled with care. We must keep these details secure and use them appropriately as we navigate the business world.
FAQs on Tracking Down EIN Numbers
Q1: What is an EIN?
An EIN, or Employer Identification Number, is a unique nine-digit number the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) assigns to businesses in the United States. It’s used for tax reporting and other business identification purposes.
Q2: How can I look up my LLC’s EIN online?
The IRS doesn’t offer a public database to look up your own or any other company’s EIN for privacy and security reasons. However, you can find your EIN on the original confirmation letter from the IRS, in your business tax returns, or by contacting the IRS directly.
Q3: Can I find another company’s EIN online?
For privacy reasons, it’s generally not possible to find another company’s EIN online unless the company is publicly traded or a non-profit. Publicly traded companies often list their EINs in public documents available through the SEC EDGAR database. Non-profits must disclose their EINs, which can often be found in the IRS tax-exempt organization search.
Q4: What are some paid methods for finding a business’s EIN?
Some paid methods for finding a business’s EIN include running a business credit report through agencies like Experian, Equifax, or Dun & Bradstreet. Some private investigation services and commercial database services also offer this information for a fee.
Q5: How can I get a free EIN for my business?
You can get a free EIN for your business by applying online through the IRS EIN Assistant or by fax or mail with Form SS-4. The IRS does not charge to assign an EIN.
Q6: When does a sole proprietorship need an EIN?
A sole proprietor typically uses their personal Social Security Number for business. However, they need to obtain an EIN if they hire employees, establish a Keogh retirement plan, are involved in certain types of financial activities, or are required to file excise tax returns.
Q7: Can I use my EIN instead of my SSN?
Yes, businesses can and should use their EINs for all official business matters, including filing taxes, applying for business licenses, and opening business bank accounts. Using an EIN instead of an SSN can also help protect personal privacy.
Q8: I lost my EIN. How can I recover it?
You can recover your EIN by checking previous tax returns, contacting the bank where you opened your business account, checking business license applications, or calling the IRS Business & Specialty Tax Line.