A federal tax ID number is also known as a Federal Identification Number (FIN) or Employer Identification Number (EIN). The Internal Revenue Service will issue this number to your company at no charge so that you can open a bank account, transact business and file required tax forms. Obtaining a tax ID number takes only a few minutes if you file online. Other methods take longer, so you may want to track the EIN's progress through the system.

1. Apply for your ID Number

Apply for your federal tax ID number by filing Form SS-4 online. The advantage of filing online is that you will receive your ID as soon as you click the “Submit” button. Alternately, you can print and mail a paper form to the IRS and you will receive your tax ID number by mail in about four weeks. If you apply by phone or fax, you should have your tax ID number in about one week. If you have not received your tax ID number when expected, you can contact the IRS to check the status of your application.

2. Check the Status of Your Application

Before contacting the IRS to check the status of your SS-4 application, make sure to have the date of your application and the method of filing. When you file any paperwork with the IRS, you should always make a copy and note the filing date.

3. Contact the IRS

To check on the status of your federal tax ID number, contact the IRS by telephone at 800-829-4933. Press the number on your touchtone keypad as directed by the automated recording to have your call directed to “Employee or Federal Identification Number inquiries.” The wait on hold can be lengthy, so be patient.

4. Ask the IRS to Verify Receipt

Ask the IRS representative to verify receipt of your SS-4 application. If the form was received, inquire as to the reason for the delay and provide any additional information requested by the representative. If the application was not received, find out if you need to apply again or if you can provide a copy of your original SS-4. Take the appropriate actions and ask how long you should wait before you follow up again with the IRS.

5. Wait for Receipt

Wait the specified number of days. If you still don’t receive your federal tax ID number in the time specified, repeat the process again, starting with Step 3.

6. Continue Checking Status

Continue checking the status of your Federal ID Tax Number application so you can provide any additional information the IRS may need to issue your federal tax ID number.

You can start operating your business without a tax ID number, as long as you have the number before you must file tax forms. If you do not have your tax ID number before your first tax filing is due, contact the IRS for special instructions on paying your taxes.

7. File Required Tax Forms

Once you receive your federal tax ID number, you no longer need to contact the IRS for a status report. Be sure to file all required tax forms in a timely manner.