Employer Identification Number (EIN)

HR Glossary for HR Professionals

Glossary of the most common HR terms and acronyms to assist professionals navigating the ever-growing and ever-changing world of HR terminology.

Employer Identification Number (EIN)

What is an EIN?

Employer identification number, or EIN, is a number that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) assigns to businesses.

What is the EIN used for?

The use of an Employer Identification Number, or EIN, is to identify the tax accounts of employers and others who have employees. Moreover, the IRS can use the EIN to identify taxpayers who have to file various business tax returns. 

What is a state EIN?

Firstly, a state tax identification number, or state EIN, is a unique number that the state where the business operates assigns to businesses or organizations. Secondly, the use of state tax identification numbers is for filing and hiring employees. 

Who needs an EIN?

An EIN is required for most businesses who are classified as LLC, corporation, or partnership.

If your business is a sole proprietorship or single member LLC, the IRS does not require you to have an EIN. In this case, you can use your Social Security Number unless: 

  • You hire employees.
  • Your LLC elects a corporate-style taxation structure.
  • You have a solo 401(k) plan.
  • You file for bankruptcy.

EIN application:

If your business is located within the US you may apply for an EIN on the IRS website, found here.

How long does it take to get an EIN?

You will get your EIN immediately upon application completion. You can save, download and print immediately.

Are EIN’s free?

This is a free service the IRS offers. 

What to do if you lost your EIN?

Firstly, if you lost your EIN, you can find a previously filed tax return for your existing entity. However, if you did not file a tax return yet, you can ask the IRS to search your EIN by calling their hotline at 800-829-4933.

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