If you own a business, you know that you have a federal employee identification number (FEIN), also known as your federal tax ID number or employer identification number. It’s an important factor in the financial and legal areas of doing business, and you’ll need to know this number in various important situations. But what do you do if you’ve misplaced, don’t know or can’t locate your FEIN?
If you need to find your FEIN, you have multiple options for looking up that number, and all they require is a little research or a phone call or two. These methods are easy, so you can get back to running your business and filing any necessary paperwork quickly.
Look at Your Business Paperwork
One of the fastest ways to find your FEIN is to look at some of your important business papers. If you can find the original letter from the IRS that it sent to notify you of your FEIN, you’ll see the number there. You can also look at copies of your tax returns or other IRS correspondence and paperwork, and the number should appear in various fields on those documents.
You can also find your FEIN on papers that don’t directly relate to taxes. Look at your application for your state or local business license or corporate registration form. Financial documents from your bank, such as your account application or loan forms, likely also have your FEIN on them.
Contact the IRS
If you can’t locate your business paperwork or if it’s not readily available, you can contact the IRS to request your FEIN. You can reach the IRS Business and Specialty Tax Line at 800-829-4933 on weekdays.
It’s important to note that the IRS won’t give the FEIN or other sensitive information to just anyone in your business. The named authorized person is the only one who can contact the IRS to obtain this information, and you or whoever calls will have to verify certain information before the IRS will give out the FEIN.
Call Your Accountant or Tax Preparer
Another option for finding your FEIN is to reach out to your tax preparation service or accountant. These professionals keep up with much of your important financial information, and it’s possible that they have your FEIN somewhere on file. They may have the information readily available, or they may have to look it up and call you back.
Your tax preparer should have copies of the tax returns that they filed for you, which may actually make this a faster option than contacting the IRS directly. You may also have financial paperwork on file with your accountant. If you contact either of them, they may ask to validate certain information to make sure they’re giving the FEIN to the proper person.
Why a FEIN Is Important
The primary reason that the IRS assigns a FEIN to certain businesses is for tax purposes, namely staying organized. This number appears on all tax returns and forms filed for your company, and the IRS includes it in communications with your business. It serves as a business version of a Social Security number for tax and identification purposes.
Because the IRS assigns your company its FEIN, it’s convenient for other entities to use it to identify your business. You’ll need it to apply for a business license and to open a bank account in your business’ name. The bank will require it when you apply for a business loan or credit card. You’ll also use it if you issue 1099s to independent contractors.
Does Your Business Need a FEIN?
The IRS doesn’t require every business to have a FEIN, but sometimes the number is necessary and it’ll come in handy to have one assigned. Your company needs a FEIN if you have employees or if you withhold taxes. You’ll also need it if you’re filing taxes or making tax payments or if your company pays excise taxes. If your business is subject to alcohol, tobacco and firearms regulations, a FEIN is necessary.
You’ll also need a FEIN for your company when you apply for state or local licenses or permits or if you operate your business under a corporate structure like a limited liability company (LLC) or partnership. If your business doesn’t meet any of these criteria, you likely don’t need a FEIN.