If you’re starting your own limited liability company (LLC), you’ll need to take several key steps to follow after officially forming the LLC with the state. One is obtaining an Employer Identification Number, or EIN, for your new business.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) uses your EIN to identify your company, much the way a Social Security number is used to identify individuals. In addition, an EIN is used for tax filing purposes and to track business credit and is often needed to open a business bank account.
But what if you don’t know what your EIN is? What if you lost your number or could not remember it? Lucky for you, this handy guide details the various ways you can find your EIN.
Who Has an EIN?
Any business, regardless of entity type, can get an EIN, even sole proprietorships. However, a business must have an EIN to hire employees.
Looking Up Your EIN
These are the six most common methods for re-acquiring an EIN:
- Contact the IRS
- Review business files and documents
- Contact local and state government bodies
- Visit the IRS website
- Purchase a business credit report
- Review payroll records
1. Call the IRS for Help and Support
If you recently changed your EIN, your best bet is to call the IRS directly. Any weekday between 7 AM and 7 PM, you can call and request assistance from a customer service representative, whether about your EIN or tax-related issues.
It’s important to note that the person who speaks to the IRS must be authorized to request and receive your business’s EIN. Authorized parties typically include, but are not limited to:
- Business owners and partners
- Sole proprietor
- Corporate officers
This method is especially excellent for those with a newly changed EIN, as the IRS retains the most current information for businesses, and the information is regularly updated.
So you can save yourself the time of digging through old business records and looking for your EIN, but you don’t need to feel guilty about it. It would be fruitless to even try since your documents likely list your old EIN that’s no longer associated with your business.
Before you call, it’s worth noting that you’ll likely have more success calling the IRS in the middle of the week. For example, if you call early Monday morning, as many people do, you might spend half the morning on hold.
2. Review Your Business Files and Documents
One of the great things about your EIN is that it’s listed on a variety of business documents, such as:
- EIN confirmation letter from the IRS
- Bank loan applications
- Bank statements
- Credit reports
- Tax returns
- Tax notices
- Business licenses and permits
- Government filing forms
If you can dedicate some time to dig through your files, you’ll probably find your EIN all by yourself!
3. Reach Out to Your Local and State Government Bodies
It’s common for business owners to use their EIN on their local and state applications for licenses and permits. As a result, you might be able to call the relevant government agencies that issued your licenses and permits for assistance in identifying your EIN.
Your EIN can also be used to open a business bank account, so another great option is calling your business’s bank to inquire about your EIN.
4. Access Your EIN Confirmation Letter on the IRS Website
Nowadays, it’s increasingly common for business owners to apply for their EIN via the IRS website. You can access your EIN confirmation letter online if this is the case.
If you haven’t deleted it, find your EIN confirmation email from the IRS and open it to access your EIN. Then, print a couple of copies of the confirmation letter for your records!
Some business owners go one step further and forward the IRS confirmation letter email to their email account, so it’s always saved in the cloud.
5. Purchase a New Credit Report
If you don’t mind paying, a quick way to determine your EIN is by paying for a new business credit report from a credit agency.
Your credit report will identify your EIN and tax ID. We suggest printing out your business’s credit report for your records and writing down your EIN in a few different places for your business records or memorizing it. Or do all three!
6. Review Your Payroll Paperwork and Records
Reviewing your recordkeeping and reviewing the payroll paperwork is another great way to track down your EIN, especially for independent contractors.
Though some independent contractors use their Social Security number, many still prefer to acquire an EIN. Careful examination of payroll paperwork, such as an independent contractor’s 1099 form, has a good chance of turning up your lost EIN.
Still Having Trouble Uncovering Your EIN?
If you’re still struggling to find your EIN, don’t panic! Chances are you do have it documented somewhere in your business’s records, so we have a couple of suggestions for your EIN hunt:
- Look through all your recordkeeping storage spaces– did any documents get lost in a dark corner?
- Dig up your oldest files and records and review old documents and applications. For example, do you have printouts of your business’s account profiles?
Can I Change My EIN?
Though it is possible, businesses rarely change their EIN. If a business does need to change its EIN, it’s usually due to one of the triggering scenarios outlined below.
You may be required to change your business’s EIN if:
- The business entity type changes
- The business becomes a subsidiary of another business
- The business owner is a sole proprietor and is subject to bankruptcy
- The ownership structure changes
- You receive a charter from the Secretary of State
If you cannot find your old EIN and remain unsure about changing your business’s EIN, we suggest getting in touch with the IRS for assistance in determining your next step.
To Sum It Up
An EIN is just one small part of owning a business, but it does play a significant role. If you can’t recall what your EIN is, don’t worry. There are a handful of ways to find it, and even if you don’t, your business should be just fine, one way or the other.
You should write down and save your EIN in as many places as possible to avoid future hiccups.