Where Can I Look up a Federal Tax ID?

by Van Fredrick - Updated June 29, 2018
Young woman business accountant checking documents in finance file archive

There are many methods available to look up a federal tax ID. Ideally, business owners have a copy of the IRS tax identification number assigned when opening the business. If you have misplaced this information or are a vendor seeking the tax identification number to report payments, you'll need some basic information about the company to locate it.

Tips

  • Business owners listed as the registered agent can call the IRS at (800) 829-4933 to obtain the tax identification number.

    The EIN is also located on bank records or previous year tax returns.

Definition

A federal tax Identification Number (FTIN) is used by the US federal government to identify a business. The FTIN is also known as an Employer Identification Number (EIN). The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issues the numbers to businesses and generally requires that a new number be issued when a business changes it’s’ structure or name. Both for profit and nonprofit businesses are issued numbers. The business uses the FTIN when submitting forms and other documents to the federal government.

Ask the business

You can begin your search for a business’s FTIN by asking the business. Most businesses will willingly give you their FTIN if they are asked. This is particularly true for nonprofit businesses, since the FTIN is often needed to claim deductions for tax purposes. For profit businesses are also willing to give out their FTIN since it is a public record and can be found by other means such as EDGAR, an acronym for the Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval system.

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EDGAR (for profit businesses)

EDGAR is maintained by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of the US federal government. For-profit businesses file forms using EDGAR, such as their SEC forms 8-K, 10-K and 10-Q reports. These forms contain the company’s FTIN. It is easy to use EDGAR to look up a FTIN. Simply visit SEC.gov's EDGAR Company Filings page. You will be presented with a list of documents filed for that company. Find an 8-K, 10-K or 10-Q form in the list and click on the “Document” button. You will be presented with a list of formats for that document and can now select the format you wish.

Melissa Data (nonprofit businesses)

Melissa Data is a company that collects and supplies data to businesses. They offer several free databases for the public to use, including a database of information about nonprofit businesses. Enter the zip code or the company name into the Melissa Data website to find out the information you need. If you used a zip code, all of the nonprofit businesses in that zip code will be displayed in a list, and you can click on the name of the business that you are interested in. If you entered a company name, then the information will be displayed immediately.

Ask a Reference Librarian

Many public and college libraries have a reference desk staffed with reference librarians. These professionals are skilled at helping to find information. They will often have access to databases such as Westlaw or Lexis Nexis which might have the FTIN information that you are looking for.

Tips

When asking a business for the FTIN, ask to speak to the accounting department.

When using a lookup service such as EDGAR, try just the first few letters of the company name. Many companies are listed with the SEC under names similar to but not exactly their well-known name.

When using a zip code search with Melissa Data, ensure that you are looking in the correct zip code for the corporate offices, rather than a local office.

Resources

About the Author

Van Fredrick is an IT expert with many years of business management experience. Writesfor internal and external clients including Demand Studios. He holds a BA in Liberal Arts from TESC.

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