In order for your business to hire employees, obtain a business loan, or file business income taxes (which allow you to write off business expenses), you must receive an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. To get an EIN for yourself, and to make your business eligible for loans and deductions, you must first complete the IRS SS-4 form. In this blog post, we’ll give you a crash course on everything you need to know about the SS-4 form, from filing your application to receiving your EIN.
What is the SS-4 Form?
Per the IRS website, form SS-4 is used by employers, sole proprietors, corporations, estates, trusts, and individuals to apply for an EIN for tax filing and reporting purposes. Your EIN, and form SS-4, is necessary for many of your business’s financial processes, like securing a business loan, opening a bank account for your business, or adding employees to your payroll. All US-based businesses are able to submit an SS-4 form, and most are required to.
Does My Business Need an EIN?
Unless your business is organized as a sole proprietorship or limited liability corporation (LLC), you most likely will need an EIN. An EIN will be required for any business that has employees as it is necessary for tax purposes. If you ever plan to file for a business loan, business credit card, or a business bank account you will need to provide your EIN.
Even if you do find that your business is exempt from the SS-4 requirements, you still may want to consider pursuing an employment identification number as not having one can hinder your future growth plans if you need financing or additional licensing at a later date.
What Information Do I Need for the IRS SS-4 Form?
IRS form SS-4 will require you to submit basic information about your business with your application. To get started, you’ll need to provide the following information:
- Business name and address
- Business owner (applicant) name
- Applicant SSN, ITIN, or EIN
- Type of business
- Business start date
- Number of employees or expected employees
- Primary business activity, products and services (i.e. selling candles)
A full description of the requirements of form SS-4, as well as the complete application process for an EIN, can be found here.
How to Complete the IRS Form SS-4
Completing IRS Form SS-4 is not unlike filing other tax-related documents for the government in the sorts of information you need to provide. There are, however, multiple ways you may file and submit your SS-4.
The first and more traditional method of filing would be to download and print the physical form from the IRS website, before completing and mailing your application back to the IRS.
You may also apply directly at irs.gov by completing and submitting the form online. A particular benefit of the online form is that your future communications regarding the form will be retained in emails with the IRS, making it easier to find records of your SS-4 Notice for future uses.
How to Get a Copy of Your Completed SS-4 Form
Once you’ve filed your SS-4 and received your EIN, you’re in business and are free to apply for business bank accounts and loans, file your taxes, or apply for licenses particular to your industry.
While actually being approved for an EIN through form SS-4 is a strong first step in operating a business, it’s more than likely that you’ll also need to have a physical copy of your SS-4 Form on hand in order to make use of it. Typically, a copy of your SS-4 Form will need to be submitted with loan applications, employee hiring paperwork, and tax filings.
There are a few ways a small business owner can get a copy of their IRS form SS-4.
- If you submitted form SS-4 online, the IRS will send you an email that contains a copy of your SS-4 and your new EIN. If your EIN was registered online, check your email inbox for past conversations with the IRS! (We also recommend downloading and storing a copy of the email to be accessed at later dates.)
- If your business has an open U.S bank account, copies of your SS-4 and EIN are likely available through their offices. While banks have differing policies on who is authorized to access these documents, a qualified representative from your business should be able to help you access copies of your SS-4.
Finally, you can contact the IRS and request a copy of Form SS-4 or your EIN. Once you’ve made contact with the IRS, have provided them with your name, address, and phone number, and have been approved as an “authorized” individual, your EIN and filing information can be shared by an IRS representative. So-called “authorized individuals” who may access SS-4 and EIN information include sole proprietors, executors of a will, a partner in your partnership, or a corporate officer for your business.
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