What Is Form SS-4? Applying for an EIN for Your Business

Some businesses are required to have a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN). FEINs, or EINs, are used by employers and other businesses for tax filing and reporting purposes.

FEINs work similarly to Social Security numbers. When you include your business’s unique nine-digit number on documents, the IRS can easily identify your company.

One way to apply for this taxpayer identification number for your business is to file Form SS-4. What is Form SS-4?

Form SS-4

Form SS-4, Application for Employer Identification Number, is a form you file with the IRS to apply for an EIN.

On this FEIN form, you must provide information about your business, including your business’s legal name, address, type of business structure, and reasons for applying.

Prior to 2007, completing Form SS-4 and filing it with the IRS was the only way business owners could apply for EINs. However, the IRS also lets businesses apply online. Business owners who apply online enter their information and, if they are accepted, instantly receive their EIN.

Who needs to file Form SS-4?

You need to file Form SS-4 if your business is required to have an FEIN.

You must have an EIN if:

  • You have employees
  • You’re structured as a corporation or partnership
  • You meet other IRS requirements

When you file documents like Form W-2, you must include your EIN. That way, the IRS can identify your business.

Although you now have the option to conveniently apply for your FEIN online, some businesses prefer filing Form SS-4.

So, if you are required to have an FEIN and don’t want to apply online, you need to file the SS-4 form.

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Where to send Form SS-4 application

You must send Form SS-4 to the IRS. You may either mail or fax the form.

Mailing IRS Form SS-4 takes the longest time. According to the IRS, applications take up to four weeks to process if you mail them. If time is not an issue, you can complete Form SS-4 and send it to:

Internal Revenue Service

Attn: EIN Operation

Cincinnati, OH 45999

Filling out Form SS-4 and faxing it to the IRS is a less lengthy process than mailing it. If you provide a return fax number, the IRS will send your EIN within four business days. If your principal business, office or agency, or legal residence is located in one of the 50 states or D.C., fax your form to 855-641-6935.

Form SS-4 instructions

To file Form SS-4, you need a copy of the official document. You can find Form SS-4 online on the IRS’s website. Type directly in the PDF or print the form and record your answers by hand.

The form first asks you information about your business, including legal name of business, address, and name of responsible party. You will also need to provide your Social Security number on the form.

Next, the application will ask you how your business is structured. Your business might be structured as a:

  • Sole proprietorship
  • Partnership
  • Corporation
  • LLC

You will also need to provide the reason you are applying for your EIN. Did you start a new business? Have you hired employees? The form lists many reasons for applying, so make sure you know why you’re applying.

The IRS also wants to know information about your industry, the date you first paid wages, and what kind of products or services you provide.

There is other information you will need to provide on Form SS-4, so be sure to read and fill it out carefully.

What to do if you need a copy of Form SS-4

Before you send in Form SS-4 to the IRS, you should make a copy of it to keep for your records. You cannot ask the IRS for a copy if you lose yours or forget to make one.

When you receive your EIN, make sure to keep it in a secure location. If you lose your EIN, do not fill out Form SS-4 again. Instead, look for copies of documents you’ve recorded it on. If you still cannot find it, you can call the IRS’s Business & Specialty Tax Line.

Although the IRS won’t give you a copy of Form SS-4, you can ask them to give a copy of your EIN assignment letter by calling the Business & Specialty Tax Line.

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This article has been updated from its original publication date of July 2, 2018.

This is not intended as legal advice; for more information, please click here.

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