Applying for an EIN is an important step to get your business off the ground. It allows you to open a business bank account, hire employees, and build business credit. But getting caught in a loop of EIN errors is no fun! If you’re trapped with EIN reference number errors, the guide here can help you resolve it. 

Your time is precious; don’t waste it on the wrong numbers. 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. Based on the formatting, you can tell if someone is using their social security number or an EIN. An EIN is formatted as XX-XXXXXXX. LLCs and corporations can apply for an EIN.

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? 

Having an EIN adds legitimacy to your business and simplifies business operations. An EIN identifies you to the IRS so you can pay taxes, but you also need one to open a business bank account, apply for credit, and hire employees. 

While these may seem trivial, each of these steps is essential to establishing your business as a separate entity and building trust with employees and clients.

Listed below are a few reasons why you should get an EIN: 

  • Opening a business bank account separates business funds from personal funds.

  • Building business credit can make it easier to qualify for a business loan or line of credit.

  • Whether you need to hire full-time employees or 1099 employees, you’ll need an EIN.

Where Do I Apply for an EIN? 

You can apply directly on the IRS’s website with the online EIN application. The IRS has an online EIN assistant available during regular business hours. Alternatively, you can fill out form SS-4 and submit it by fax or mail. See SS-4 letter examples here.

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 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 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 name similar to yours, there is one in another state. 

If you’re wondering, “How do I resolve my EIN reference number 101?” don’t worry – you don’t need to change your LLC name to try and find an original one. 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 has 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 of Organization, Certificate of Organization, or Certificate of Formation 

EIN Reference Number 102: SSN/ITIN  

An EIN Reference Number 102 indicates that your SSN (Social Security Number) or ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) doesn’t match the IRS’s 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 the 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 or person helping you get an 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 for 24 hours and try again. If you’re still getting errors, file Form SS-4 by mail so a real person can review your documentation. 

EIN Reference Number 106: Single-Member LLC Without EIN 

EIN Reference Number 106 is for single-member LLCs. It means your LLC 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

EIN Reference Number 107 indicates that your single-member LLC with employees has more than one sole proprietorship EIN. 

You don’t need 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 need a separate EIN. 

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

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

EIN Reference Numbers 109-113 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, contact IRS support or file Form SS-4 via mail. 

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 for 24 hours before applying for another EIN. If you believe this is in error because you’re trying for the first time, check that 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’ll see because EIN Reference Number 115 means the IRS has checked the details of the responsible party and believes 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 its records are wrong, but reach out to the IRS to determine what next steps it wants 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 than 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 failed to supply all necessary information (this is more likely when filing via paper, so take things slowly when filing with Form SS-4) 

  • You are already a responsible party 

If you’re rejected, correct the errors and reapply, apply via Form SS-4, or speak with IRS customer support to understand the 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: 

1. You made a mistake: If you made a mistake on your application, submit a letter to the IRS and include the following information: 

  • Name & TIN of current principal 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

2. You’ve changed your business name: Write to the IRS (at the same address you file your tax returns to) and tell them what has changed, along with a copy of your Articles of Amendment. (Find out more here

3. You’ve changed your address: Use Form 8822-B to notify the IRS of the change.

4. You’ve changed your responsible party: Use Form 8822-B to notify the IRS 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 the IRS 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 where you file your tax returns and tell them you made a mistake originally, and your business name is [your business name].

Find out more about name changes 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. You won’t need to get a new EIN unless you make a significant change to your business structure.

Finalizing Your EIN Application

EIN application errors can be frustrating delays, but they don’t have to take too much time. You can simply re-apply or consider getting a formation service to help. If you’re just starting your business, consider doola formation services.

You’ll get fast and easy LLC formation in all 50 states, along with an EIN or a foreign EIN. If you already have an LLC, get doola books to help with the business’s bookkeeping.

doola can help you get beyond EIN reference number errors so you can focus on building your business.  

FAQs

Are there any penalties for EIN reference number errors?

No, there are no penalties for EIN reference numbers, but you’ll need to try again and resolve the issue to secure an EIN. However, there are penalties for putting the incorrect EIN on tax forms. 

How long does it take to correct an EIN reference number error?

Depending on the reference error, you could correct an EIN reference error the same day or the next day. It may take longer if you have to contact IRS customer service for help.  

Can I get assistance from the IRS to correct EIN reference number errors?

Yes, you can contact the IRS to correct EIN reference number errors or submit Form SS-4. 

Is it possible to prevent EIN reference number errors?

You can prevent some EIN reference number errors simply by double-checking that you’ve entered all information correctly. Read our guide above to help avoid reference number errors. 

Will correcting an EIN reference number error impact my business’s tax filing or legal status?

Correcting EIN reference number errors won’t impact your business if you don’t yet have an EIN. However, correcting errors and getting the EIN is essential to prevent business delays in opening a bank account or filing taxes. 

Arjun Mahadevan
Arjun Mahadevan
Founder & CEO
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