What’s an EIN? Do I Need One?

An Employee Identification Number (EIN) is used to identify your business entity formally for tax administration purposes. Most American businesses are required to have one in order to operate. In its most basic sense, you could think of an EIN as a Social Security number for your small business.

Obtaining an EIN isn’t difficult: the IRS provides an application page with all the information you’ll need to get the ball rolling. If you run into any issues during the process, the IRS provides this helpful resource to answer common questions and outline various methods you can use to apply for your EIN.

Of course, it would be a shame to put time and energy into seeking an EIN if your business didn’t require one. The IRS recommends that you consider the following questions to determine your unique situation. If 1 or more questions are answered with a yes, you’ll need to get an EIN.

  • Does your small business have employees?
  • Does your small business operate as a corporation or a partnership?
  • Do you file these tax returns for your small business: Employment, Excise, or Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms?
  • Do you withhold taxes on income, other than wages, paid to a nonresident alien?
  • Do you have a Keogh plan?
  • Are you involved with any of these types of organizations?
    • Estates
    • Plan administrators
    • Farmers’ cooperatives
    • Nonprofit organizations
    • Real estate mortgage investment conduits
    • IRAs, Trusts (except certain grantor-owned revocable trusts), Exempt Organization Business Income Tax Returns

If you discover that your small business needs an EIN, there’s no time like the present to get started. Follow the simple instructions provided by the IRS, and you’ll be the proud owner of an EIN in no time.

Once you’ve obtained your EIN, you’ll be ready to open a business banking account associated with the number. These are important milestones for any business, as they put you in a prime position to seek financing and begin your formal operations.

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