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What Is an FEIN?

When you run a business, you must meet many IRS requirements. You might need an FEIN to identify your business on documents like payroll tax forms. What does FEIN mean?

What is an FEIN?

FEIN is an acronym for Federal Employer Identification Number, also known as an EIN. This unique, nine-digit number is used by the IRS to identify a business operating in the United States. An FEIN is structured like this: XX-XXXXXXX.

An FEIN is a type of taxpayer identification number (TIN) used by certain businesses. Other examples of taxpayer identification numbers include Social Security Numbers (SSN) and Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN).

Who needs an FEIN?

Now that you can answer, “What is FEIN?”, you might be unsure whether it applies to you or not. You must have a federal tax ID number if you have employees.

The IRS also requires you to have an FEIN if you are structured as a corporation or partnership, file certain tax returns for small business, and more. Visit the IRS’s website to determine if you need an FEIN.

What exactly is the FEIN used for?

When you file documents like Form W-2, Form 941, and business tax return forms, you must identify your business. These forms will prompt you for your EIN. It’s important to keep your business ID number in a safe location so you can easily access it and record it on your tax forms.

How to apply for FEIN

There are a few ways you can apply for FEIN from the IRS. There is never an application fee. Do not apply for an FEIN if you lost your Federal Employer Identification Number. Instead, search for your computer-generated notice, look for documents containing the number, or call the IRS.

Although applying online for your federal ID number is the easiest method, you can also apply by fax or mail.

FEIN

Online

You can apply online for your FEIN with a valid Taxpayer Identification Number (e.g., Social Security number). You are required to complete your application in one session.

Once you complete your online application, the IRS will immediately give you your federal identification number.

Fax

If you prefer completing a physical application, you can fill out Form SS-4, Application for Employer Identification Number. The number you fax your application to is determined by your business location.

  • Fax to (855) 641-6935 if your principal business, office or agency, or legal residence is located in one of the 50 states or D.C.
  • Fax to (855) 215-1627 if you have no legal residence, principal place of business, or principal office or agency in any state.

The IRS will send your EIN within four business days via fax if you provide a return fax number.

Mail

Like the faxing method, you must complete a physical copy of Form SS-4 and mail it to the IRS. Mail Form SS-4 to:

Internal Revenue Service

Attn: EIN Operation

Cincinnati, OH 45999

According to the IRS, processing can take up to four weeks for applications sent via mail. If you are on a time crunch, this might not be the best method to use.

Cancelling your FEIN

Once the IRS generates an FEIN for you, the service will never use that number for another business. You cannot cancel your FEIN, but you can close your business account with the IRS.

To close your business account, you must include the legal name of your business, the FEIN, the business address, and the reason you want to close your account. If you still have it, include the copy of the EIN Assignment Notice the IRS issued.

You can mail all the materials to the IRS:

Internal Revenue Service

Cincinnati, OH 45999

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This article has been updated from its original publish date of 11/1/2014. 

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

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