The Internal Revenue Service now lets businesses obtain identification numbers directly from its Web site. After the taxpayer completes an application form online, the system issues an employer identification number (EIN) that may be used immediately.
This online process eliminates the need to send paperwork to the IRS as well as the delay in issuing a number that may result from an incomplete application form. Once a business has its EIN, it can file tax returns and may enroll in the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System to handle its payments most efficiently.
Businesses do not need to pre-register before requesting an EIN. The number issued is the permanent EIN for the business, unless the IRS finds that it has already issued an EIN for that business or if the principal officer's name and social security number do not match Social Security records. In such cases, the IRS will void the number issued through the Web site and notify the business.
An accountant or tax preparer may use the Web site to request EINs on behalf of clients. The taxpayer must sign a copy of the Form SS-4 and a statement authorizing the representative to receive the number online. The representative must keep both documents on file. The Web site describes the elements required for an authorization statement, which a preparer may print out for the client to sign.
The online application process is not available to some EIN requestors, including federal, state or local government agencies, Indian tribal governments, real estate mortgage investment conduits, and taxpayers with addresses outside the 50 States.
Businesses may still obtain EINs by telephone at 1-800-829-4933 from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (local time), or by mailing or faxing Form SS-4, as provided in the form's instructions. (You may download a fill-in version of Form SS-4 to complete and print out, but Acrobat Reader may not save your entries when you save the file to a disk.)