February 6, 2020

EIN Lookup: What You Need to Know

Read more about Business

If you own a business, you may need an Employer Identification Number (EIN). Read this guide to learn how to get or look up an EIN easily.

What Is an EIN?

An Employer Identification Number (EIN) acts like a Social Security number for businesses. The IRS assigns businesses unique EINs to keep track of their tax filings and returns each year.

An EIN is also known as a Tax Identification Number (TIN), 95 number, or tax ID number.

They help the government keep track of a business's activity, like taxes, loans, legal activity, and business licenses.

Can I Look Up My EIN

Here are a few ways to find your EIN if you misplaced or forgot it:

EIN Confirmation Letter
When you received your EIN, the IRS should have sent you a confirmation letter with your EIN enclosed. Depending on how you applied, they would have sent either an email or mailed letter.

Other Personal Documents
If you can't locate your confirmation letter, look through your business' paperwork. Here are some documents that would have needed your business' EIN:

  • Federal tax returns
  • Business loan applications
  • Government forms
  • Business licenses or permits
  • Business credit report
  • Business bank account statements
  • Payroll documents

Ask the IRS
As a last resort to finding your EIN, you can contact the IRS. Call the IRS' Business and Specialty Tax Line at 800-829-4933 Monday–Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time.

A representative will provide your EIN over the phone. The representative will need to verify your identity before providing your EIN, so have your Social Security number, identification card, or other form of identification available.

The IRS will not give out the EIN over the phone if you are not the sole proprietor, partner, or a corporate officer of the business.

Once you have found your EIN, keep the number in a safe spot so you can find it quickly and easily next time.

How to Find Another Company's EIN

If you need to look up another business' EIN, first identify whether it is a public or private company.

If the company is publicly traded, its EIN will be listed in its SEC Filings. These are publicly available at the Securities and Exchange Commission's website. Search the company's documents for either "EIN" or "IRS No." Typically, the EIN will be found on the first page of a company's filings.

If the company is private, the search is less straightforward. Here are some ways to find a private company's EIN:

  • Contact the company's payroll or accounting department.

  • Ask a current employee (the EIN will be listed on their pay stub).

  • Buy the company's credit report.
    • Sites like Experian and Equifax allow you to buy copies of a company's credit report.

  • Use a paid EIN database like LexisNexis, FEINSearch, or EIN Finder.

If the company is a nonprofit, you can use the free Melissa Database to look up the EIN.

Are federal EIN's public record?
EINs are public record for publicly traded companies. If a private company has filed any local or federal registration forms, these might be published publicly and contain a business' EIN.

Reverse EIN Lookup

Reverse EIN lookup means using an EIN to look up the company it belongs to (rather than the other way around). Depending on how many numbers you need to look up, it might cost some money.

FEINSearch.com provides users five free reverse lookups of EINs. To create a free account, you must register as a business user.

LexisNexis, another database, offers users EIN reverse lookups for either a $20 one-time fee or a monthly membership. Monthly membership prices vary depending on the size of your business and how many access accounts you need.

Why You Need Your EIN

Your business needs an EIN to conduct financial, legal, and business activity, including filing business taxes, payroll for your employees, opening a business bank account, applying for a small business loan or business permits.

An EIN is required for your business if ANY of the following apply:

  • The business has employees.

  • The business files any of these tax returns: Employment, Excise, or Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.

  • The business operates as a partnership or corporation.

  • The business withholds taxes on income, other than wages, on a non-resident alien.

  • The business has a Keogh plan.

You'll also need an EIN if your business is involved with any of these organizations:
  • Trusts, except certain grantor-owned revocable trusts, IRAs, Exempt Organization Business Income Tax Returns
  • Estates
  • Real estate mortgage investment conduits
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Farmers' cooperatives
  • Plan administrators

How to Get an EIN for Your Business

If you are the sole employee of your business, you could use your personal Social Security number to file your business' taxes.

But with an EIN, you can file your personal and business taxes separately. And if you have any other employees, you MUST obtain an EIN.

To be eligible to receive an EIN for your business, you must have the following:

  • A valid taxpayer identification number in the form of a Social Security number, individual taxpayer identification number, or a different employer identification number

  • A business with principal business in the United States or U.S. territories

If you meet these requirements, you can complete an online EIN application on the IRS' website. The application is available Monday–Friday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. EST.

You may also fax or mail an application to the IRS.

International Applicants
An international applicant is anyone who doesn't have legal residence in the United States or U.S. territories, or has a business that isn't based here.

If you are not a resident of the United States, complete Form SS-4 and fax or mail it to the IRS. You may also call the IRS at 267-941-1099 and provide the information on the Form SS-4 over the phone.

How to Cancel or Change an EIN

Once an EIN is created, it stays with the business forever. While your EIN can't be canceled, you can close the business account associated with it.

If your business never starts or it shuts down, you can mail a letter to the IRS asking to close the account.

In the letter, you'll need to include the legal name of the entity, the EIN, business address, reason you wish to close the account, and a copy of the EIN confirmation letter you received when you applied for the EIN.

Although you can't change a business' EIN, you might need a new EIN for your business under some circumstances, including:

  • Filing bankruptcy

  • Change in ownership structure, like incorporation or taking in partners

  • Establishing a company retirement or pension plan

  • New corporate charter

  • Acquisition or merger

You do not need a new EIN if the business' name or address changes. Use the IRS' detailed guide to decide if your business needs a new EIN.

Bottom Line

If you own a business, you'll likely need an EIN for a variety of transactions. It's best to keep it handy and in a safe spot so that you'll have easy access to this important number.

But if you happen to forget or misplace it, you can still locate it on your business documents or by contacting the IRS.

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How to Apply for a Business Credit Card


How to Build Business Credit


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