An employer’s federal identification number, commonly abbreviated to EIN, is a nine-digit number unique to each business. It functions as a numerical ID for tax purposes and for other government paperwork. Just as every American citizen has a Social Security number to identify them for tax purposes, every business has an EIN.
When and Why Is an EIN Needed?
Every business needs to open bank and savings accounts for operational funds. An EIN is mandatory for this. Businesses also need to register them when applying for loans or grants and for both state and federal tax filings. If the business needs specialized licensure the EIN is needed to make certain the right business is assigned that license in order to operate.
How Do You Look Up an EIN?
If it is your own employer’s or business’s EIN you are looking for there are a few ways to look it up.
- Contact any bank with which you have a business account or any agency to which you applied for a state or local license and they should be able to locate the EIN.
- Look at any previous IRS filings for the number. It should be easily found on the first few pages.
- The IRS sends a computer-generated notice on a postcard after an EIN is applied for. It functions as both confirmation and receipt so the EIN should be on it.
- Call the IRS at its Business & Specialty Tax Line at 800-829-4933. As long as you are someone authorized to receive the EIN they will be able to assist you. Authorized people are sole proprietors, corporate officers, an estate executor or the trustee of a trust. Keep in mind calls are only answered during business hours so if you need the EIN on a weekend or holiday another method will have to be used.
- If the business is a large corporation, its EIN can be found on the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis and Retrieval System, known as the EDGAR system. While it may take a bit of searching through all the information available through EDGAR, the EIN can be found.
- If the business is a nonprofit, the EIN can be found through a variety of free online databases, including the IRS’s. Nonprofits' registrations are usually a matter of public record.
- There are services that allow you to skip all the research and pay for what you need. A site like EINfinder.com means that for a fee you can discover the numbers of virtually any business as long as you know a few pertinent details.
Depending on the type of company, there are more than a few free methods to look up its Employer’s Federal ID Number. It may take a bit of time and know-how but it can be done relatively quickly. If time is of the essence, consider a service that does the legwork for you and presents the EIN quickly.
Nicky is a business writer with nearly two decades of hands-on and publishing experience. She's been published in several business publications, including The Employment Times and Business Idea Factory. She also studied business in college.