If you’re running a business and even if you have only one employee, you’ll need an Employer Identification Number or EIN. And to get an EIN, you’ll need to file the Form SS-4. All types of businesses, employers, corporations, partnerships, estates, and trusts, also need an EIN for tax filing and reporting and opening a business bank account. Even sole proprietors without employees can apply for an EIN. Below, you’ll find Form SS4 instructions to apply for an EIN and start operating as a business.
What is IRS Form SS-4?
The IRS Form SS-4 is used to apply for an EIN, which is a 9-digit number used by entities for tax filing and reporting. It is similar to a social security number (SSN) but for businesses or other organizations that function as independent entities. You’ll need to apply for an EIN when registering a new business. Filing Form SS-4 is simple and the instructions are given below.
All companies need to keep SS-4 information up to date. If you need to make changes to Form SS-4, including the responsible party, address, or location, you’ll need to fill out Form 8822-B. The IRS must receive a notification within 60 days of any change in the responsible party.
Do You Need to File Form SS-4?
All employers must file Form-SS4. Businesses or individuals without employees may still file for an EIN. Corporations, including s-corporations, partnerships, estates of decedents, and trusts, must get an EIN by following Form SS4 instructions. LLCs and sole proprietors will only need an EIN if they have employees or report on tax forms as an entity (rather than passing through to the members).
You’ll need to follow SS4 instructions to get an EIN if you are:
- A business or individual who hires employees
- A corporation or partnership
- Pay employment taxes, including Social Security or Medicare, for employees
- A business that pays excise taxes
- A business that pays taxes on firearms, alcohol, or tobacco
- An individual or business that withholds taxes on income (other than wages) to a non-resident alien
- An individual or business with a qualified retirement plan.
How to Complete Form SS-4 in 3 Simple Steps
If you’ve recently formed a company, sole proprietorship, trust, or corporation, you’ll need to follow the SS4 instructions mentioned below.
Step 1: Gather the Necessary Information
Before starting with SS4 instructions, you’ll want to gather information and confirm that you need an EIN. Assuming you do need an EIN, you’ll need to have the following information ready:
- Legal business name
- Business trade name (doing business as or DBA), if applicable
- Business mailing address
- The legal structure of the business: a corporation, partnership, LLC, or sole proprietorship
- Business start date
- Business closing month of the accounting year
- Tax ID numbers (social security numbers) for the individual(s) responsible for the business
- Reason for applying for EIN
- Number of employees
- The date on which first wages were paid
- Whether you expect to pay $1,000 or more in employment taxes annually. If not, you’ll need to file Form 944.
Step 2: Fill Out and Sign the Form
With the above information, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty of SS4 instructions, including if you can digitally sign form SS-4. Here are the SS4 instructions for each line.
Line 1. The legal name of the entity or individual (i.e. business name).
Line 2. Trade name (doing business as name).
Line 3. The “care of” name of the responsible individual, executor, administrator, or trustee.
Line 4 a-b. The business’s mailing address, including city, state, and zip code.
Line 5 a-b. Street address of the business, including city, state, and zip code (there are special instructions for foreign addresses).
Line 6. Country and state where the business is located.
Line 7 a-b. The name of the responsible person or company and their social security number or EIN. You can also get an EIN without a social security number.
Line 8. Whether the application is for an LLC, and if so, additional information about the LLC.
Line 9. Type of business entity (you can only check one box). If it’s a corporation formed in a foreign country, you’ll need to enter the state and country. Learn more about filing requirements for foreign member LLCs here.
Line 10. Reason for applying for the EIN.
Line 11. The date on which the business started or was acquired.
Line 12. Closing month of the business accounting year.
Line 13. Maximum number of employees expected in the next 12 months.
Line 14. If you need to file form 944 because employee tax liability will be less than $1,000.
Line 15. The date on which first wages or annuities were paid.
Line 16. You’ll need to check a box that describes the principal business activity.
Line 17. A description of work, products, services, or merchandise offered.
Line 18. Whether the applicant entity has ever applied for and received an EIN (you’ll have to choose between yes or no).
Step 3: Submit the Form via Mail or Online
Finally, after following these SS4 instructions, you’ll be able to submit the form via email or online. You can submit Form SS-4 online here or mail it to:
Internal Revenue Service
Attn: EIN Operation
Cincinnati, OH 45999
You can also submit Form SS-4 by fax to: 855-641-6935 (from within the US). From outside the US, you can fax the form to 304-707-9471 or mail it to the address mentioned above.
What Next After Filing Form SS-4?
After filing Form SS-4, you will receive a letter from the IRS with the Employer Identification Number (EIN). You can see SS-4 letter examples here. Thereafter, to maintain your business or entity in good standing, you’ll need to file Form 941 every quarter. You can file Form 944 annually instead if the expected employment tax liability is $1,000 or less.
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How do you get Form SS-4 from the IRS?
Who is the “responsible party” listed on Form SS-4?
The responsible party on Form SS-4 is the individual or entity that controls or manages the entity applying for an EIN. The responsible party is responsible for the entity’s funds and assets.
Do you need an EIN if you’re a sole proprietor?
You don’t need an EIN as a sole proprietor as long as you don’t have any employees and don’t file any pension plan or excise tax returns.
How long does it take to get your EIN?
Processing time for an EIN application received in the mail is four weeks. You can expect a similar processing time for forms submitted online.
How will you know your EIN?
You will receive your EIN after filing Form SS-4 with the IRS. If you already have an EIN, you can ask the IRS for the number by calling the Business & Specialty Tax Line on 800-829-4933. Learn what to do if you have the wrong EIN here.