If you are doing business with a company, you may need to have its state tax ID number. You can find a tax ID number online, on specific forms and documents, or by contacting the appropriate department within the company. Most states use the federal nine-digit EIN number for tax purposes, so that is often the number you need.
Understanding Employer Identification Numbers
An Employer Identification Number, or EIN, is not just for companies with employees. In fact, most business entities require this number for tax purposes and the IRS refers to the EIN as the Federal Tax Identification Number. Some states require a company to have an EIN before filling out state tax forms or even registering the business in the state.
State governments use the EIN as a general identification number for business licenses and other requirements, in addition to taxes. In California, for example, most companies must have an EIN before registering for state payroll taxes.
Finding an EIN
EINs for businesses are much like Social Security numbers for individuals. Just like with SSNs, many businesses keep their EINs as private as possible, so you're unlikely to find it pasted on the company's home page. But the EIN is required on many documents.
If you work for the company, you can find the EIN in box B of your W-2 Wage and Tax Statement. It is also located in the Payer's Federal Identification Number box on Form 1099 sent to investors and pensioners.
Contacting the Company
If you have a legitimate reason to have a company's tax number, call the company and ask for it. For small businesses, talk to the business owner or the person you normally deal with. If it's a large company, contact the accounts payable department if you are sending them an invoice. If they have sent you an invoice, contact accounts receivable, which is usually the person whose name appears on the invoice.
State Tax Certificates
If a business is buying a product or service from you, and you need to know if that business qualifies for tax-exempt status, often you can get the number from your customer. In many cases, this will be on a certificate issued by the state government. In Florida, for example, businesses are issued a 13-digit certificate number. To see if the number you have is valid and has been verified for the current year, enter the number into the Florida Department of Revenue Seller Certificate Verification webpage, or by using the department's mobile app available for most smartphones and tablets.
Online Search for State Tax Numbers
Some states allow anyone to search for a state tax ID number online. The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, for example, has a sales taxpayer search page where you can find a tax ID number. You can enter the business name, or in the case of a sole proprietorship, the owner's name. If it's a common name, you can also enter the company's ZIP code or the company's federal EIN. The webpage will return the company's 11-digit taxpayer ID number, as well as the permit issue and expiration dates.
- Department of Revenue Washington State: Question
- Window on State Government: Sales Taxpayer Search
- State of California Department of Consumer Affairs:
- IRS: Employer ID Numbers
- California Employee Development Dept: Commercial Employer-Individual Owners
- Florida Revenue: Florida Tax Mobile App User Guide
- Forbes: Understanding Your Tax Forms: The W-2
- Forbes: Ten Things You Should Know About IRS Form 1099 Before You File Your Taxes
- California Secretary of State: Business Entities Records Request