If you require an Employee Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS then you might have a partnership or corporation, be a sole proprietor, or say yes to any of these IRS qualification questions. In order to get this unique tax identifier, you will need to apply using form SS-4. The IRS suggests filling out form SS-4 before starting the application to streamline the process, but this form is long and can be confusing. Here is a step by step guide on how to fill out your SS-4 form.
Step One: Choose An Application Method
This form is available online, through fax or email, and even over the phone for your international applicants. Applying online is the easiest, most popular option and gets you your number faster. When you apply through fax or phone, make sure you send it to the appropriate locations and give yourself enough of a wait time for the results to be returned. Telephone applications are only available for international applicants and require you to call between their work hours.
Step Two: Lines 1-7
These lines focus on some general information for your business entity. For the first line simply enter the legal name of your particular entity or the name of the person applying. The next line wants the trade name of your business, just ask yourself ‘Who are you doing business as?’ or ‘What name do people recognize for my business?’ this doesn’t need to be the same legal name as the line above. Line 3 wants the information for the designated person who receives the tax information, just enter their full legal name here.
For the next line, line 4a-b, write down the mailing address used for correspondence, if you wrote someone down for line 3 use their address here. Line 5a-b requires the physical location address if its different from line 4.
Then enter the county and state where your entity is located. Finally for line 7a-b put down the name of the responsible party. This person has a level of control over your entity and is the same person you used for line 3. Include their full legal name, Social Security Number, and their own EIN.
Step 3: Lines 8a-14
These next few lines go a little more in-depth than the general information above but worry not, they aren’t as scary as they look. Lines 8a-c just ask if you are applying for an LLC (Limited Liability Company) if you answer yes then it wants to know how many members there are and if its international or not. Line 9 is for corporations, simply put down the state or country where incorporated. The next line gives you a list of options and asks you to check the reason for applying; choose the option best suited for your needs. After that, it asks you to list the date your business was acquired or started. Then it wants the closing month of the accounting year. Line 13 wants you to go over the next 12 months and estimate how many employees if any, you are expecting. You can skip line 14 if you entered 0 for the previous line, but if not just ask yourself if you plan on filing Form 944, most people leaving this box blank but consider your personal needs first.
Step 4: Lines 15-18
These last few lines are just some straightforward questions about your entity. Line 15 wants the date of when the first wages or annuities were paid, or if you are withholding for now then just enter the date where it will be paid. The next line has a list of options for you to describe your business. Go over all of them and choose the one closest to the principal activity of your business. After that is a line requesting information on merchandise sold, if there was any constructions work done, products made, or if you provided any services. Finally, line 18 asks if the applier has ever had an EIN before; if you answered yes simply provide the old number on the line.
This one-page application isn’t as scary as it seems. Just slowly go over all the questions and answer as best you can. If you find the wording confusing or aren’t 100% sure what to put give the IRS a call and ask for some assistance. The process is much faster when they don’t have to keep coming back to you for more information so fill out your SS-4 form accurately the first time will get you applying in no time.