Most businesses in the United States are required to have a FEIN number. This term stands for Federal Employer Identification Number or Federal Tax ID Number and represents a unique identifier assigned by the IRS. There are instances when you may want to find a company's FEIN, whether you're an employee, supplier or business partner. Several resources exist, so use them to get the information you need in a timely manner.
Depending on your needs and budget, you can look up a company's FEIN using free or commercial databases. Another option is to contact its accounting department and request the information you need.
All U.S. citizens have a Social Security number (SSN). Businesses, on the other hand, are assigned federal employer ID numbers for identification purposes. As a business owner, you need this nine-digit number to file tax returns, apply for licenses and permits or open a bank account.
Not all companies require this identifier, though. Sole proprietors, for instance, must apply for a FEIN only if they file any excise or pension tax plan returns, hire employees or form a limited liability company. A FEIN is also required for sole proprietorships that file for bankruptcy or form a partnership. In some circumstances, this number is required for opening a business bank account.
Even if you don't need a FEIN, it's worth getting one. Having a federal tax ID number may help reduce your risk of identity theft because you won't need to provide your SSN to clients and other third parties. It also shows that you're an independent business, not an employee, which can make you more appealing to potential customers.
This unique identifier can be obtained online by any business owner with a valid taxpayer ID number. Simply go to IRS.gov, click File, select Business & Self-Employed and follow the instructions on the EIN page.
As a business owner, it's important to make sure you're working with legitimate companies. One way to do that is to verify their federal tax ID numbers.
Start with the EDGAR Database, an online filing system developed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Here you will find information on all foreign and domestic businesses that are required to file reports and other documents via EDGAR. More than 3,000 filings are processed daily. Users can research a company's financial data for free.
Access SEC.gov, click Filings and then select EDGAR Search Tools. Enter the company's name or ticker symbol in the designated field to get the information you need. In addition to its FEIN number, you may research its history, financial statements, annual reports and other documents.
Another way to find a company's FEIN is to Real Search, FEIN Search and other commercial databases. These services typically require a monthly fee. Some provide a limited number of free searches. FEIN Search, for example, allows users to research up to five companies at no extra charge. It features more than 16 million tax ID numbers as well as business records compiled from public and private resources.
If you need these services regularly, consider using proprietary databases. Dun & Bradstreet, for instance, provides access to over 330 million business records, including federal tax ID numbers, credit ratings, business registrations, contacts and more. A similar service is LexisNexis, the largest online database for legal information. The downside is that these services come with a high price tag.
Some commercial databases are free, but they have limited search features. A good example is Melissa, which provides information on U.S. nonprofits. Access its website, click Lookups and select Federal Resources. Click Nonprofit Organizations and then enter the company's name or ZIP code to look up its FEIN number, income, assets and other relevant data. If you still can't find the information you need, contact the company’s accounting department and inquire about its federal tax ID number — just make sure you have a valid reason for your request.