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How To Get an EIN Number for Your LLC (2024)


Forming a limited liability company (LLC) can be rewarding, providing entrepreneurs a flexible and protective business structure. Aside from limiting your personal liability for company debts and obligations, LLC income is taxed simply, based on your personal income tax returns.

However, with these advantages come specific responsibilities, like getting an employer identification number (EIN). Here’s why you might need an EIN for your LLC, how it differs from other ID numbers, plus a step-by-step guide to applying for one.

What is an EIN?

An employer identification number (EIN), or a federal tax identification number, is a unique, nine-digit number the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) assigns to a business. It identifies the business entity for federal income tax purposes.

Like a Social Security number (SSN) for individuals, your EIN helps the IRS track your business’s financial transactions, such as filing taxes, opening business bank accounts, and hiring and paying employees.

The federal tax ID number’s ubiquity means other parties can also use it to identify and track business entities. This includes banks administering business banking accounts, local and state tax authorities, lenders, some startup incubators, and business grantmaking institutions.

EIN vs. TIN

While an EIN and a taxpayer identification number (TIN) are both used for tax-related purposes, they differ in scope.

The EIN serves as a unique identifier for your business, ensuring compliance with tax obligations. A TIN, on the other hand, is a general term referring to taxpayer identifiers. It’s a category of ID numbers including the EIN and other tax ID numbers for individuals, like Social Security numbers and individual taxpayer identification numbers (ITINs).

The IRS assigns ITINs to individuals who are required to have a US taxpayer ID number but do not have and are not eligible to acquire an SSN.

Does your LLC need an EIN?

Whether your LLC needs an EIN depends on various factors, including its structure and activities. Single-member and multi-member LLCs have different EIN requirements:

Single-member LLCs

A single-member LLC is considered a disregarded entity for federal tax purposes. This means the business’s income is treated as the owner’s personal income. While a single-member LLC may not be required to obtain an EIN immediately, there are several circumstances in which it might make sense to do so:

  • Hiring employees. If you plan to hire employees as the sole member of your LLC, you must obtain an EIN for payroll and employment tax purposes.
  • Opening a business bank account. To separate personal and business finances, opening a business bank account under the LLC’s name might be prudent. Banks require an EIN to do so.
  • Applying for loans. Most lending institutions require you to provide an EIN on your application paperwork to obtain a small business loan or a business line of credit.
  • Paying excise taxes. If your single-member LLC engages in activities or sells products subject to excise taxes (e.g., alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, etc.), an EIN may be necessary.

Multi-member LLCs

Obtaining an EIN is mandatory for multi-member LLCs, as the IRS requires a unique identifier for a business run by more than one person. Obtaining an EIN for a multi-member LLC enables the same benefits as a single-member LLC.

How to get an EIN for your LLC

  1. Determine eligibility
  2. Understand your business structure
  3. Gather necessary information
  4. Prepare the application
  5. Apply and receive your EIN
  6. Confirm the issuance

Obtaining an EIN for your LLC is a relatively straightforward process facilitated by the IRS. Here are the six steps to complete the application process:

1. Determine eligibility

Before applying for an EIN, ensure your LLC is eligible. Your LLC must have a valid TIN, which can be the SSN or ITIN of its managing member. International applicants can also apply for an EIN by calling a special hotline. Note: This is not a toll-free number.

2. Understand your business structure

Understand your LLC’s structure, as the application process may differ for various LLC subtypes. For example, a single-member LLC may choose to be taxed as a sole proprietorship or as a corporation, each with its implications for the EIN application process.

3. Gather necessary information

Collect the information needed before starting the application process, including details about the LLC like its legal name, the state where it’s organized, and the responsible party’s information. The responsible party is usually an individual—such as a member or manager—who controls, manages, or directs the LLC and its funds.

4. Prepare the application

The IRS’s online service is the most convenient way to apply for an EIN. Visit the IRS website and click Apply for an EIN Online. The online application process is user-friendly and typically takes a half hour or less to complete.

If you wish to apply for an EIN by mail, complete and submit Form SS-4 at least four to five weeks before you need the number. Sign and date the application, then mail it to the IRS EIN Operation Center in Cincinnati, Ohio.

You can also apply by fax, but you must include the appropriate fax-TIN number on your paperwork, which is subject to change without notice. Fax can be a faster alternative to the mail-in form, but only if you provide a return fax number on your application. The IRS will typically fax an EIN back to you within four business days.

5. Apply and receive your EIN

In the online application, provide accurate information about your LLC, including details about its structure, the reason for applying (e.g., starting a new business, hiring employees), and the responsible party’s information.

You’ll usually receive your EIN immediately upon completing the application online. It is a nine-digit number you should keep in a secure location for reference.

6. Confirm the issuance

After receiving your EIN, confirm the issuance by checking for the confirmation notice. While the EIN is issued immediately upon completion of the application, the EIN confirmation notice is sent by postal mail to the address provided on the application. This notice serves as official documentation of your EIN.

If you misplace or forget your EIN, you can call the IRS’s Telephone Assistance for Business hotline during business hours. Once the IRS verifies you’re the responsible party, it provides your EIN verbally over the phone.

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How to get an EIN number for your LLC FAQ

How can you apply for an EIN with the IRS?

You can apply for an EIN through the IRS’s website. If you’re an international applicant, you must initiate the application process by calling a hotline number.

How much does it cost to get an EIN number for an LLC?

It’s free to apply for and obtain an EIN from the IRS.

What is the easiest way to get an EIN?

Is there a downside to getting an EIN?

Having an EIN for your LLC involves more administrative work, a higher chance of tax scrutiny, and some public exposure of business details. Consider these factors carefully against the benefits of an EIN.

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