1997 Tax Help Archives  

Employer Identification Number (E-I-N) - How to Apply

This is archived information that pertains only to the 1997 Tax Year. If you
are looking for information for the current tax year, go to the Tax Prep Help Area.

An employer is a person or organization for whom a worker performs services as an employee. As an employer you are required to withhold and report employment taxes. To file the various tax returns, you need an employer identification number, or EIN.

A sole proprietor who has no employees and who files no excise or pension tax returns is the only business person who does not need an employer identification number. In this instance, the sole proprietor uses his or her social security number as the taxpayer identification number. A sole proprietor may have only one EIN regardless of how many different businesses are owned.

To obtain an employer identification number, you must complete Form SS-4. You can get this form at most Social Security Administration and IRS offices. You may also call the IRS at 1- 800-829-3676 to order it.

After you have completed the Form SS-4, you can obtain the EIN by mail, FAX, or in some cases by phone. The instructions for the Form SS-4 provide both an IRS service center address as well as a phone or Fax number for Tele-TIN. By mailing the completed Form SS-4 to the appropriate service center, you can obtain an EIN within 30 days. If you choose to call the Tele-TIN number, you may obtain the EIN immediately. You must have the SS-4 completed before calling Tele-TIN. For information on faxing your application, call 1-800-829-1040.

For more information, order Publication 1635, Understanding Your EIN, by calling 1-800-829-3676.

If you already have an EIN, and the organization or ownership of your business changes, you may need to apply for a new number. Some of the circumstances under which a new number is required are as follows:

  1. An existing business is purchased or inherited by an individual who will operate it as a sole proprietorship, unless the new owner already has an EIN,
  2. A sole proprietorship changes to a corporation or a partnership,
  3. A partnership changes to a corporation or a sole proprietorship,
  4. A corporation changes to a partnership or a sole proprietorship; or
  5. An individual owner dies, and the estate takes over the business.

For more information, order Publication 1635, Understanding Your EIN, by calling 1-800-829-3676.

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