If you’ve spent any time looking over tax and accounting information for new or small businesses, chances are you’ve encountered Form SS-4, also known as the “Application for Employer Identification Number.” As the name indicates, this form is used when businesses apply for an employer identification number, or EIN.
An EIN is a 9-digit number issued by the IRS that serves as a unique identifier to your business for tax and accounting purposes. Most businesses will need an EIN, and even those that aren’t required can benefit from having one.
In this guide, we’ll explain how to know if you need to file Form SS-4, and how to go about doing so.
An EIN is required in order to conduct many basic business functions, beyond just the ability to hire employees. Without an EIN, you won’t be able to pay federal taxes, open a business checking account or apply for business loans.
Corporations and partnerships are required to file Form SS-4, as are businesses who have employees or pay employment taxes. Non-profit organizations, trusts and estates are also required.
If you operate an LLC and want it to be taxed as an S-Corporation, you’ll need an EIN in order to file Form 2553.
You’re not required to file Form SS-4 in every circumstance. If you’re a sole proprietor or have an LLC with no employees, for example, you don’t technically need an EIN. In this case, you’d use your personal social security number as your taxpayer identification instead.
Keep in mind, however, that the absence of an EIN will hamper your flexibility as a business. Situations may arise that will require you to file Form SS-4, like if your business grows such that you want to hire employees, or if you need to file for bankruptcy. Even if you’re a sole proprietor, it’s probably best to have an EIN even if you’re not required to have one right away.
There aren’t separate sections on this form, so we’ll go line by line.
Finally, sign and date Form SS-4.
Instead of mailing or faxing Form SS-4 to the IRS, owners of U.S.-based businesses may apply online through the IRS website. The online portal is available Monday to Friday, and from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. Be aware that the session will expire after 15 minutes, so be sure to have all of the necessary information before you begin.
If you incorporate your business through Firstbase, we’ll take care of all the necessary paperwork to get an EIN for your company. Simply fill out the initial incorporation form and let us handle the rest. Click here to start the incorporation process now.
At just one page long, Form SS-4 is relatively quick and easy to fill out. The required information shouldn’t take long to acquire, particularly if the applicant is a new or small business.
As we’ve already noted, filing Form SS-4 has advantages even for business entity’s that are not required to do so. Consult with a tax professional if you have any further questions about whether you’re required to file, or whether it’s right for your business.