A party can find a company’s Employer Identification Number (EIN) by requesting it from the company. When a company is publicly traded and registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the party can use the SEC's Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis and Retrieval (EDGAR) system to turn up documents that contain the EIN. A party can find the EIN of a tax-exempt nonprofit organization by using a search tool on the IRS website.
What Is an EIN?
An Employer Identification Number is a nine-digit number that the IRS gives a business to identify it for tax purposes. The IRS assigns EINs to for-profit businesses, as well as to trusts, estates, nonprofits, farmers cooperatives and real estate mortgage investment conduits, which are corporations, partnerships, trusts and associations that are exempt from federal taxes.
An entity is eligible to get an EIN if it has employees; operates as a corporation or partnership; withholds taxes on income other than wages paid to nonresident aliens; has set up a Keogh or solo 401(k) retirement plan for self-employed persons; or files employment, excise or alcohol, tobacco and firearms tax returns. An excise tax is a tax paid when a purchase is made on a specific good, like gasoline.
Looking for the EIN
A business’ EIN can be found on documents that the SEC requires publicly traded companies to file. One example is a Form 10-K, a company’s annual report to its shareholders. A business’ EIN may be located on a Form W-2 in box “b” and on Form 1099 under the company’s name and address. A party can use a service like EIN Finder to look up an EIN. He can also use a search engine such as ReferenceUSA to find an EIN.
Other Ways to Find an EIN
If the person is authorized to receive an EIN from the IRS, she can call the IRS’s Business & Specialty Tax Line to get the EIN. Authorized persons include sole proprietors, partners in a partnership, a corporate officer, a trustee of a trust and an executor of an estate.
A party can also hire a business to look up a company’s EIN. He can search for local or federal registration forms that a business has filed that may contain an EIN. In addition, he can purchase the company’s business credit report, which may contain its EIN.
Read More: How to Find EIN Numbers for Free
The Many Purposes of an EIN
A business needs an EIN to open a bank account, hire employees and file employment, excise, or alcohol, tobacco, and firearms tax returns. A business also needs an EIN to allow the IRS to track its payroll tax remittances, the taxes it has withheld from employees’ salaries to be remitted to the government. A self-employed person who wants to establish a Keogh or Solo 401(k) plan needs an EIN for the retirement plan. An individual who purchases or inherits an existing business needs an EIN for the business.
Why an EIN May Be Secret
A business may choose not to divulge its EIN because it wants to protect itself from identity theft. A person with a business' EIN can establish corporate bank accounts, credit card accounts and lines of personal credit without notifying the company. That person can also steal checks made out to the company and can deposit checks into corporate accounts to withdraw funds. It is difficult for a thief to get much with only an EIN number, yet the EIN may be just a small piece of information about the business that the thief has stolen.
- IRS: Lost or Misplaced Your EIN?
- U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission: EDGAR Company Filings/CIK Lookup
- IRS: Tax-Exempt Organization Search
- U.S. News & World Report: Can I Get a Business Credit Card With Only an EIN?
- IRS: Excise Tax
- IRS: Retirement Plans for Self-Employed People
- Merriam-Webster: Legal Definition of REMIC
- IRS: Do You Need an EIN?
- IRS: Filing and Paying Your Business Taxes
- IRS: How to Obtain or Re-Establish an EIN for a Retirement Plan Trust
- IRS: Bankruptcy
- IRS: Publication 908 (02/2019), Bankruptcy Tax Guide
- United States Courts, Chapter 7: Bankruptcy Basics
- United States Courts, Chapter 11, Bankruptcy Basics
- IRS: What if I File for Bankruptcy Protection?
- Rutgers University Libraries, Company Research: Private Companies
- The simplest way to get your employer's EIN is to call your human resources department or go to see them in person.
- As it's free, it's a good idea to try EIN Finder first. If this is not successful, you may then want to try KnowX.
Jessica Zimmer is a journalist and attorney based in northern California. She has practiced in a wide variety of fields, including criminal defense, property law, immigration, employment law, and family law.