The EIN (Employer Identification Number) is also known as the FTIN (Federal Tax Identification Number). It is a unique number that enables a business entity to be identified. In most cases, all businesses will need an EIN. There are numerous ways in which someone can apply for one, and the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) also offers a free EIN assignment service, whereby a business identity can obtain an EIN immediately. The business’ state will determine whether they also need a charter or state number. An EIN is needed for a variety of different filings, transactions, and forms. Performing an EIN lookup, meanwhile, can be done in several ways.
How To Perform An EIN Lookup:
- Look at your paycheck stub. An EIN is usually printed on income statements, near where the wage or salary is indicated. Usually, a business will indicate its EIN there in order to provide necessary information about the business, and also for employee verification.
- Look at your IRS’ W-2 income tax form. This form will show an Employer ID line, which should have the EIN number listed on it. On older tax filings that included earnings, it was common to see personal information followed by the EIN.
- Speak to a business and request for their EIN number. You can do so in writing, including your personal details and reasons for your request.
- Conduct a private EIN lookup by searching for companies online. It is possible that you will have to pay a fee to get the number. However, if all else fails, then this could be the most viable option.
What If You Want to File as Tax Exempt?
Before applying for an EIN, a business should make sure that the organization has been legally formed. If they do not file a notice or required return for three years in a row, their tax-exempt status will automatically be revoked. When a business applies for an EIN, it is automatically assumed that they are legally formed, which means the three year period starts from that moment.
Change of Structure in Ownership:
Usually, if the ownership structure of a business changes, then they will need a new EIN. The IRS provides a lot of information on whether or not this is needed. Various accounting practices may also help with this issue.
Limitations on EIN Issuance:
Since May 21, 2012, the IRS has limited the issuance of EIN to one per day per responsible party. This has ensured the equitable and fair treatment of all taxpayers. All EIN requests are subject to this rule, regardless of the application being done in writing, by fax, or by mail. While this has caused some inconvenience for some businesses, this rule cannot be changed.
Losing or Misplacing an EIN:
Should a business have applied for an EIN in the past and have received it, but then misplaced or lost the number, there are a number of EIN lookup methods they can try. They can:
- Locate the notice they received from the IRS upon application for their EIN, which is a confirmation and receipt.
- Speak to their bank or state licensing issue, should they have used an EIN to open accounts or apply for licenses, and ask them to confirm the number.
- Look at old tax returns for the business itself, if they have filed a return at any point. This should show the EIN very clearly.
- Speak to the IRS’ Business & Specialty Tax Line, where someone will ask for certain information to identify the business, after which they can provide the EIN number. However, they will only do so for the person who is listed as authorized to receive this information.
- This includes the partner in a partnership, the sole proprietor, the trustee of a trust, corporate officers, or estate executors.
Closing or Canceling an EIN:
An EIN cannot be canceled by the IRS. Once it has been assigned, it is a permanent number used for federal tax identification. It doesn’t matter whether or not this number is used on tax returns or not. It will never be reassigned or reused for other businesses. This means that once it belongs to a particular business, it remains theirs and can also be used again by that business at later stages, should that be necessary.
If a business were to receive an EIN only to find they don’t need it, for instance, if the business didn’t really launch, then the account can be closed by the IRS. This must be formally requested in writing, including the name of the business entity. If possible, the EIN Assignment Notice should be included in this writing to the Cincinnati, OH office of the IRS.
Of importance is that an EIN account cannot be closed if you have made a federal tax payment or federal tax deposit, if you still have to pay business taxes, or if you have been notified that you must file a tax return. The account can only be closed after those affairs have been put in order. The IRS has developed a Closing a Business Checklist to ensure businesses follow the right procedures.
Should the EIN number have been applied for on behalf of exempt organizations that did not apply for this formally, that isn’t covered by group rulings, or that did not file a return at any time, a letter formally requesting the account to be closed can be sent to the EO Entity of the IRS in Ogden, UT. This letter should explain why the entity wishes to close their account. If possible, they should also include a copy of their original EIN Assignment Notice. If they no longer have this, the full legal name of the entity must be included, including the mailing address and the EIN itself.
For further information for exempt organizations, the IRS has released the Termination of an Exempt Organization explanation, which is available through their website. Dissolving exempt organizations can be particularly complex in nature, so it is advisable to seek guidance early on so as not to make any mistakes.