EIN Lookup: How to find your EIN

July 13, 2020

EIN Lookup: How to find your EIN
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When you initially applied for and received your Employer Identification Number (EIN), you should have received a confirmation letter in the form of email, mail, or fax depending on how you applied. If you simply cannot find your EIN, you can call the IRS Business & Specialty Tax Line at 800-829-4933 between 7 AM and 7 PM local time Monday through Friday.

Keep in mind that you may need to deal with a lengthy wait and it may be faster to comb through the following before calling the IRS:

  • Search for your EIN confirmation letter from the IRS that shows your EIN
  • If you applied online, you should have an email with the confirmation letter
  • If you applied by mail, you should have a copy by mail
  • If you applied by fax, you should have a copy by fax
  • Go through old, format business documents that may contain your EIN ( business bank statements, local or state licenses, previous tax documents.)

For security reasons, the IRS won’t give out your EIN unless you can prove that you are the sole proprietor, partner in a business partnership, corporate officer, trustee of a trust, or an executor of an estate.

A detailed guide on where to find your EIN without contacting the IRS

1. The simplest place to find your EIN is on your initial confirmation letter that you received from the IRS when you first applied. Your confirmation letter (email, paper mail, or fax) will differ depending on how you initially applied for your EIN. Because your confirmation letter is important, we recommend storing it in a safe place once you find it.

2. Your EIN can also be found on prior year tax returns. For example, if you filed using a form 1120, you can find your EIN in the top right in box B (as of 2019).

3. Many state or local business licenses require you to submit your EIN when applying. These are licenses that allow your business to operate in whatever state or municipality you choose to operate in.

4. Check your business bank account statements for your EIN. It will likely show in the top right and will either be presented as your EIN or your business tax ID.

5. The IRS sometimes sends official notices concerning your business. If you ever applied for an EIN, these statements will likely contain your EIN.

6. When you apply for any business financing (e.g., business line of credit or small business loan), you’ll need to note your EIN. Therefore, we recommend checking any business financing applications. Any past business financing statements may also contain your EIN.

7. Finally, we recommend checking your business credit report. You can request a free credit report through Experian, which will show your EIN (likely as business tax ID).

Looking for another business’s EIN

Finding another business’s EIN can be tricky. If the company is publicly traded, you can find its EIN using the SEC’s website. You can find any publicly traded company’s EIN for free.

If the business is not publicly traded, we recommend contacting the business’s finance or accounting departments. Otherwise, you’ll need to resort to other less reliable methods such as:

  • Hiring third party services to find the EIN
  • Purchasing the business's business credit report
  • Searching the web for any federal or local government registration forms that the business has completed

What is an EIN? Does my business need one?

An EIN is the business version of a personal social security number (SSN) assigned by the IRS. It functions as a unique numerical identifier for your business and is widely used for a number of purposes including, but not limited to, tax reasons or applying for small business financing.

Applying for an EIN is easy but it isn’t always necessary. However, if you meet any of the conditions below, you are required to obtain one:

  1. If you have any employees (not counting yourself)
  2. If your business is a corporation or partnership
  3. If you file an Employment, Excise, or Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms tax return
  4. If you withhold taxes on income paid to a non-resident alien
  5. If you have a Keogh plan
  6. If you are involved with:
  • Trusts, except certain grantor-owned revocable trusts, IRAs, Exempt Organization Business Income Tax Returns
  • Estates
  • Real estate mortgage investment conduits
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Farmers' cooperatives
  • Plan administrators

If you meet any of the above conditions, you can apply for an EIN here. Applying for an EIN is straightforward but it does require a personal SSN or taxpayer identification number (TIN). If applying online, you should receive your EIN almost instantaneously. Keep in mind that the IRS limits EIN applications to one per day.

Because an EIN is so widely used, it can be useful to obtain an EIN early on when your business is new to make it easier to scale. Additionally, an EIN can be useful in separating your personal and business finances. We recommend limiting the use of your personal SSN as little as possible so as to minimize the potential of identity theft, which can be mediated by obtaining an EIN.

International applicants can also apply for an EIN by phone, mail, or fax. If applying by mail or fax, you’ll need to send in an SS-4 form. Even if you’re applying by phone, we recommend filling out the SS-4 form ahead of time since you’ll need the same information.

Reapplying for an EIN

If your business meets any of the below changes, you will likely need to apply for a new EIN:

  1. The structure of your business has changed (e.g., incorporating a sole proprietorship or turning a sole proprietorship into a partnership)
  2. You purchase or inherit an existing business
  3. You created a trust with funds from an estate
  4. You are subject to a bankruptcy proceeding

Keep in mind that the above reasons are not comprehensive, and are only a few common reasons why you may need to apply for a new EIN.

Javier Contreras
July 13, 2020