It is not unusual for entrepreneurs to start several different businesses in a short period of time. Sometimes, this is a function of business failure. Other times, it is just a part of that entrepreneur's personal investment strategy. Regardless of the reason, a new business needs a new Employer Identification Number from the Internal Revenue Service if it pays wages or certain types of taxes. It is possible, and sometimes preferable, however, to re-use an existing EIN--especially for business name changes.
Send a letter signed by the business owner of a sole proprietorship to the address where the last tax return was filed, informing the IRS of a change of business name. No forms are required.
Change the name of a business partnership by filing Form 1065 (tax returns) and checking the name-change box on Page 1, Line G, Box 3. If the return has already been filed for the current year, then write to the address where the return was filed--the notification must be in writing and signed by a partner, but no specific IRS form is required.
Check the name-change box for a corporation filing a tax return for the current year. This is done differently depending on the form used. On Form 1120, the box is on Page 1, Line E, Box 3. On Form 1120S, the box is on Page 1, Line H, Box 2. If the return has already been filed for the current year, then write to the address where you mailed Form 1120, indicating the name change. The letter must be signed by a corporate officer.
Follow the procedure in Step 1 for a Limited Liability Company, which is structured as a sole proprietorship under federal guidelines.
Businesses need a new EIN when their ownership or structure changes. EINs may be re-used when the only change is in the business name or location, or if an individual entrepreneur owns multiple businesses. The list of regulations about what requires a new EIN differs by business-entity type--the rules are different for corporations, sole proprietorships, LLCs and partnerships.
Failure to properly register a business venture with the IRS can result in penalties, fines or even criminal prosecution. When in doubt, consult with a certified public accountant or business attorney.