Wrong EIN or EIN Error? Ultimate Guide to EINs

When it comes to business, you’d probably rather be doing just about anything else than worrying about EINs. It’s usually just another thing you need to tick off the to-do list when setting up a new business.

When it comes to business, you’d probably rather be doing just about anything else than worrying about EINs. It’s usually just another thing you need to tick off the to-do list when setting up a new business. 

But what happens when things stop running smoothly, and you get an EIN reference number? 

To help you get through the process of getting your EIN smoothly, we’ve put together this guide so you can learn everything you need to know about EINs. 

What is an EIN? 

An EIN (Employer Identification Number), also known as a FEIN (Federal Employer Identification Number), is a nine-digit number assigned to business entities by the IRS as a form of identification for tax purposes. The easiest way to think about an EIN is that it’s a social security number for your business. 

If you need to get an EIN for your business, go to irs.gov to complete the application process

Why do you need an EIN? 

An EIN identifies you to the IRS so you can pay tax, but you also need one to open a business bank account, apply for credit, and to hire employees. 

Where do I apply for an EIN? 

You can apply directly on the IRS’s website: IRS EIN Application

Got an EIN Error? All About EIN Error Reference Numbers  

When you’re going through the online application, you may receive an IRS reference number that indicates an error. Here’s a guide to the error messages: 

EIN Reference Number 101: Name Conflict/Duplicate 

The most common error is the EIN Reference Number 101. When you receive this error, you’ll get a popup that says: 

“We are unable to provide you with an EIN. We apologize for the inconvenience but based on the information provided we are unable to provide you with an EIN through this online assistant.” 

This message is a lot vaguer than it needs to be. The EIN Reference Number 101 simply means that they’ve found an existing business entity with a name that’s the same as, or too similar to, your LLC name. 

This can happen because while the state you registered your LLC in doesn’t have a business with a similar name to yours, there is another one in another state. 

Don’t worry - you don’t need to change your LLC name to try and find an original name. All you need to do is apply for your EIN with Form SS-4, which you’ll need to do by mail (or fax, if you’re one of the few people who still have one!). Someone will review your information manually. Along with Form SS-4, you’ll need to send: 

  • Proof of your approved LLC filing form 
  • Articles/Certificate of Organization or Certificate of Formation. 

EIN Reference Number 102: SSN/ITIN  

An EIN Reference Number 102 indicates your SSN (Social Security Number) or ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) doesn’t match up with their records. 

This is usually a quick fix - double-check the SSN or ITIN you’ve entered is correct. If you still get the 102 error, file Form SS-4 by mail so a real person can check the details for you. 

EIN Reference Number 103: Existing PIN Error  

An EIN Reference Number 103 indicates there is a mismatch between the EIN and company name - which means you’ve entered an existing company as the EIN Responsible Party and the IRS’s records don’t match what you’ve entered. 

This is often a quick fix - double-check you’ve entered the correct details and correct any errors. If you still see a 103 error, file Form SS-4 by mail so someone at the IRS can sort things out for you. 

EIN Reference Number 104: Third-Party Designee Conflict 

An EIN Reference Number 104 indicates that a third-party designee, which is a company/person helping you get your EIN), has entered conflicting information. The third-party designee cannot have the same IRS EIN as your LLC, so they cannot enter the same address or phone number. 

To fix this issue, make sure your third-party designee has a different address and phone number from your LLC. 

EIN Reference Number 105: Too Many Attempts 

Perhaps the most annoying of the reference numbers, Reference Number 105, indicates that you’ve tried to get an EIN with the same details too many times in one day. When you get this number, wait 24 hours and try again. If you’re still getting errors, file Form SS-4 by mail so a real person will look over your documentation. 

EIN Reference Number 106: Single-Member LLC Without EIN 

An EIN Reference Number 106 means that your LLC (which is single-member with employees) first needs to get a Sole Proprietorship EIN. The IRS sees single-member LLCs as sole proprietorships for tax purposes, so if you don’t elect to be treated otherwise, you don’t need another EIN unless you have employees. 

Unfortunately, a 106 error is one of the more time-consuming issues to sort, so contact the IRS EIN customer service so they can get things straightened out for you. 

EIN Reference Number 107: Single-Member LLC With Too Many EINs

An EIN Reference Number 107 indicates that your single-member LLC (with employees) has more than one Sole Proprietorship EIN. 

You don’t need to have a separate EIN for the owner of a single-member LLC, because the IRS views them as sole proprietorships unless they elect to be taxed in another way. However, if you have employees, you do. 

If you get this error, contact the IRS customer service team for assistance. 

EIN Reference Number 109, 110, 111, 112, 113: Technical Errors 

If you see EIN Reference Number 109-113 are all errors that indicate a technical error, so if you get these numbers try again later - the next day, if necessary. If you’re still getting an IRS error message the day after, contact IRS support or file Form SS-4 via the mail instead. 

EIN Reference Number 114: Maximum EINs Per Day 

You can only apply for one EIN per day, so if you get this error, just wait 24 hours before applying for another EIN. If you believe this is in error (because you’re trying for the first time in the last 24 hours), check you haven’t already been given an EIN for your LLC or contact IRS support. 

EIN Reference Number 115: Deceased Responsible Party 

This is the least likely EIN reference number you’re likely to see because Reference Number 115 means they have checked the details of the responsible party, and believe they are deceased. 

If you are the responsible party or you’re applying on someone else’s behalf, contact IRS support for help. You’ll likely need to provide additional documentation to prove that their records are wrong, but reach out to them to find out what next steps they want you to take. 

What happens if you are rejected for an EIN? 

Being denied an EIN means your business likely already has one. You only need a new EIN if there has been a significant change to the business’s structure. 

Your EIN application may be rejected if: 

  • Your LLC has the same name as another entity in the US (this is usually accompanied by reference number 101) 
  • If you’ve entered an address that is in a different state to where the business is registered (usually flags reference number 101) 
  • You obtained your EIN online and are trying to apply for another online EIN (this may be the reason if your EIN starts with 20, 26, 27, 45, 46, 47) 
  • You are already a responsible party 
  • You failed to supply all necessary information (this is more likely when filing via paper, so take things slowly when filing with Form SS-4) 

If you’re rejected, correct the errors and reapply, or find an appropriate alternative route to get your EIN. 

How do I change or cancel an EIN? 

Here’s how to change or cancel your EIN, depending on your circumstances: 

  • You made a mistake: If you made a mistake on your application, submit a letter to the IRS including the following information: 
  • Name & TIN of current principle officer, general partner, owner, trustor, or grantor 
  • Your business entity’s name 
  • Your current EIN 
  • Your mailing address 
  • What mistake you made and what you need to update

  • You’ve changed your business name: Write to the IRS (at the same address you file your tax returns to) and tell them about what has changed, along with a copy of your Articles of Amendment. (Find out more here.
  • You’ve changed address: use Form 8822-B to notify them of the change.

  • You’ve changed your responsible party: use Form 8822-B to notify them of the change.

There’s a typo in my EIN application - what should I do? 

If you’ve made a mistake and found a typo in your EIN application, don’t panic. This is a simple problem to rectify. All you need to do is tell them you’re changing your business name - it won’t matter that you made a mistake in the first place. To do this, write to the IRS at the same address you file your tax returns to and tell them you made a mistake originally and so your business name is [your business name]. (Find out more about this here.) It’s a good idea to send a copy of your Articles of Organization to prove your legal business name. 

While getting your EIN can sometimes be more complicated than feels necessary, if you get any of these error reference numbers, once you’ve got your EIN you can move forward with your business and won’t need to get a new EIN unless you make a significant change to your business structure.

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