FEIN - Federal Employer Identification Number

by Ganesh » Mon Sep 03, 2007 06:44 am
Posts: 2
Joined: 03 Sep 2007

Businesses use the FEIN number to identify themselves for tax reporting, banking and other reasons. Just like Social Security Number is specific to a certain person, the FEIN number is also specific to a certain business.

What is a FEIN number?

FEIN or Federal Employer Identification Number is also known as Federal Tax Identification Number. This 9 digit code is used by businesses in order to classify and identify them as a tax payer, for banking services and other official and legal purposes. Businesses with no employees and sole proprietorship may use the Social Security number for tax reporting. But for companies with employees must have FEIN or Federal Employer Identification Number. For each business owned by the same person, a different FEIN number would be required. It is unique to a business just like Social Security number is unique to an individual.

How to apply for FEIN?

Although an application for FEIN may take weeks to get processed, it is actually very easy to apply for FEIN.

You may collect an SS-4 Form from the office of IRS or the Social Security Office, fill it out and send it to the office of IRS. There is no application fee. Make sure you send it through registered post to guarantee the safe delivery of your form. You can download PDF version of IRS SS-4 form from here.

IRS has launched their interview style application for FEIN where they ask you certain questions online and update their system based on the information that you provide them. There is no form to fill out and there is no lengthy process of waiting for the Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) either. If you are using their system of interview style application:
  • You don't need to fill out an SS-4 form and send it to the IRS office anymore
  • You don't have to get into the lengthy process of application for FEIN
  • You must answer the online questionnaire provided by them
  • IRS will then validate the data that you have provided
  • You will receive your EIN number immediately after successful verification

IRS allows you to make an online application.

How to find FEIN number?

If you are looking for the FEIN of a company you may locate it using several different ways. Following are few of the ways you can locate EIN:
  • For public companies you may check out the 10-Ks, 20-Fs and other SEC filings. These companies often print the EIN on the first page of such filings. These SEC filings may be found through the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's EDGAR database. It is free of charge.
  • For non-profit organizations you may check Form 990 in order to get the EIN. These organizations often include their EIN on this form that provides financial information and the names of executives of these companies. You may check Guide Star to access the database where you can find the Form 990 of several organizations. This is a free service.
  • Private companies may have it in their company website or the company invoice. You may use the website of KnowX which is a commercial vendor that allows you to search using a FEIN that displays a list of relevant results. You may be required to pay for their services.

Why do you need FEIN?

Following are a few situations when the Federal Employer Identification Number is required:
  • For starting a new business which is not a sole proprietorship
  • Purchase of an ongoing business
  • Any change in the organization type
  • When hiring employees for the first time
  • To create a pension plan in office
  • To form a trust

Can I use FEIN to purchase insurance?

Federal Employer Identification Number works best with businesses and not with purchasing insurance. Insurance companies prefer your Social Security Number rather than your Federal Employer Identification Number.

How is FEIN compared to Social Security Number?

FEIN is used by employers, partnerships, sole proprietors, non-profit organizations, trusts, corporations, estates, government agencies and other business entities. Employers may choose to use either their Social Security Number (SSN) or their FEIN for reporting taxes withheld on behalf of their employees. However, the credit bureaus and credit issuers can tell between SSN and FEIN.

Related Readings

What is a FEIN number?

Total Comments: 127

Posted: Wed Sep 29, 2010 06:27 pm Post Subject:

Contact the IRS -- or look for a copy of a tax return somewhere.

Posted: Mon Oct 11, 2010 12:30 pm Post Subject: crafts

I am setting up at craft shows and am wanting to know if I would get into trouble if I used my ss# instead of getting a fein #. We have not made any profit yet and are assuming that when we do it will be minimal. I am mainly interested on the tax free benefits that a vendors license would bring and the fact that some shows require that vendors have a license. Any insight into this matter would be greatly appreciated!


Posted: Mon Oct 11, 2010 02:48 pm Post Subject: FEIN vs TIN

I have an LLC and I have two different numbers. An eleven digit number for the FEIN and a 9 digit number of the TIN. Can you please explain the difference and why I have two?

Posted: Mon Oct 11, 2010 03:25 pm Post Subject:

Denise . . .

The Federal Employer Identification Number ("FEIN") is ONLY a 9 digit number (similar to the Social Security Number (SSN) of an individual), but divided into a two digit and a seven digit component, such as 95-0000000. It is issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It is issued to employers for the purpose of paying payroll tax ("FUTA") and depositing employees' income tax and Social Security/Medicare contributions withheld from gross pay.

A Taxpayer Identification Number ("TIN") is also issued by the IRS (but not specifically a FEIN), to "persons" who may have a US income tax liability (as an employee or contractor, or even as a trust or charitable foundation) or who need a "tax reporting" number for the purpose of conducting financial or other transactions in the US that may or may not be subject to taxation (such as "backup withholding" of income taxes on investment gains imposed on foreign nationals). These persons can be citizens of or businesses in other countries in addition to persons living or working in the US.

If you have some sort of reporting number that is 11 digits long, it may be a state taxpayer identification or other registration number of some kind, but it is not a federally-issued FEIN/TIN.

It could be your state's method of registering and identifying an LLC, which has nothing to do with a FEIN. A FEIN is a type of TIN. A person's Social Security Number is a type of TIN. An LLC cannot have a Social Security Number, only "natural" persons have a SSN.

The 11 digit number might also be a state's sales tax reporting number issued to a business or individual, which is different than a federally-issued FEIN/TIN/SSN.

Unless something has changed in the past few days that we're not aware of.

Posted: Mon Oct 11, 2010 03:36 pm Post Subject:

Crafter . . .

am wanting to know if I would get into trouble if I used my ss# instead of getting a fein #

Absolutely not. At least as long as you are the sole "employee" of your business.

You will eventually report your earnings (losses) from self-employment on a Schedule C along with your Form 1040 when you file your income tax return. The IRS actually PREFERS that sole-proprietors who have no employees use their Social Security Number (SSN) instead of applying for and using a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN).

If, at some point in the future, it becomes necessary to hire one or more employees, then you will need a FEIN in order to report their tax withholding and make payroll tax deposits. Most states will require you to then have a state employer identification number of some kind as well.

Good luck with your business venture. Be aware that some show venues may require you to have a liability insurance policy (Commercial General Liability). You would get that coverage through a local insurance agent/broker. It could cost several hundred dollars per year.

Posted: Thu Oct 21, 2010 12:15 am Post Subject:

As a corparation we applied for a FEIN and it was applied for by an ex share holder. Can we continue to use that FEIN number or do we need to applied for another one?

Posted: Thu Oct 21, 2010 12:15 am Post Subject:

As a corparation we applied for a FEIN and it was applied for by an ex share holder. Can we continue to use that FEIN number or do we need to applied for another one?

Posted: Thu Oct 21, 2010 07:41 am Post Subject:

As a corparation we applied for a FEIN

Unless the corporation itself has been dissolved and reconstituted, it doesn't matter who signed the original request for the FEIN. The FEIN is assigned to the corporation, not the person.

You should be 100% fine as-is.

Posted: Wed Oct 27, 2010 09:14 pm Post Subject: forgot fein #

I forgot my fein number and need it in order to get paid.. How do I find it?

Posted: Thu Oct 28, 2010 07:16 pm Post Subject:

Are you asking about a FEDERAL EMPLOYER IDENTIFICATION NUMBER, or a "Taxpayer Identification Number" or a Social Security Number?

A FEIN is issued to employers, not normally to private persons or sole proprietors. A TIN is issued to non-resident non-citizens who work or conduct business in the US, or otherwise need access to the American financial systems. A SSN is issued to private persons -- citizens, and resident non-citizens.

If you have filed a tax return under any of those circumstances, then your "number" will be on the tax return.

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