The IRS, or Internal Revenue Service, issues EINs, or Employer Identification Numbers, also known as Tax Identification Numbers to all types of businesses so they can file their tax returns. It’s similar to the Social Security numbers that are issued to individuals. Any organization with an EIN is required to file its tax returns and financial papers with various government offices. In these filings, they will report their top leadership and company ownership. As long as the organization has an EIN, you can find it. Some of the organizations with EINs include sole proprietorships, partnerships, corporations, nonprofit companies and governmental bodies. The employer identification number search process differs based on what type of organization you’re dealing with.
Public companies are companies that sold all or part of their stock to the general public. They are required by the United States Securities Exchange Commission to submit certain documents. One of these is the 10K annual report which always includes their employer identification number on the first page. Other SEC filings also have more information, such as ownership and leadership information for the company. These documents are considered by law to be part of the public record and should be easy to access for anyone. All you have to do is visit the SEC’s EDGAR database and do an employer identification number lookup, after which you will have their basic information in the results.
Private companies are those that haven’t sold any of their stock to the general public. They are owned by private investors or the founders of the company. Such companies aren’t obligated by law to make their finances public because they do not solicit any investment from outsiders. For a tax ID lookup for such a company, you’ll have to do it on one of the many online free and paid databases.
For the paid databases, you will have to create an account, and you will pay based on either the number of searches you make or the amount of time during which you will use their services. A good example is FEINSearch, which has access to millions of employer identification numbers. There are other sites which are free, such as Westlaw and LexisNexis. Once you have registered, type in the employer identification number and basic information about the company name, location, ownership and leadership will appear.
There is no ownership for nonprofit organizations. They have a board of directors or trustees who run the affairs of the organization and plow the profits made by the organization back into the business of the nonprofit. These organizations file forms 990, and you can find out information about their board members in Part V-A of such forms. Form 990 is a tax return unique to nonprofits. You can also find out more information about them in GuideStar, which has an extensive database of the Forms 990 of nonprofit organizations. You will have to register, but performing a basic search on this site is free.
The quickest and cheapest way to get information about a company is still on the company website, where many companies will indicate their employer identification numbers. The website will also likely have some financial documents posted on its website if you’re looking for financial information.