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FAQs: Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Women Business Owners May Need an EIN to do Business

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Most women in business now own sole proprietorships. This type of business may not require an EIN, but it is still a good idea to get one. An EIN is used to distinguish your business financial data from your personal finances. All employers must have an EIN to do business.

1. What is an EIN?

An EIN is a unique number assigned to your business by the IRS. The number has nine (9) digits in the following format: 12-3456789

2. What is an EIN Used For?

An EIN serves a purpose for a business similar to that of a social security number for an individual. An EIN is used on tax returns, business permits, and any applications or forms that request an IRS number to specifically identify your business.

3. Who Needs to Have an EIN?

All employers, no matter how small the business is, with one or more part-time or full-time employees, must have an EIN. If you pay contractors, or anyone for services valued at more than $600 in a calendar year, you may also need to get an EIN. Also, anyone who registers as a limited liability company, corporation, partnership, or joint venture must have an EIN.

4. Does a Sole Proprietorship Need an EIN?

If you do not have any employees, a sole proprietorship is not required to have an EIN. In fact, the IRS generally prefers you to use your social security number when you own a sole proprietorship; however, if you ever hire any employees, you must have an EIN.

If you plan to use an EIN to differentiate between your personal and business finances, you should have an EIN before you apply for business permits.

5. How do I get an EIN?

You can apply for an EIN online for free from the IRS in less than 10 minutes. If you get an EIN online, you can begin using your EIN immediately.

You can also apply by FAX, phone, or mail. No matter how you apply, it takes up to two weeks for your assigned EIN to be input into the IRS data base.

6. When You Might Need a New EIN

In general, if you change your business structure, you will need a new EIN. Also, if you are a sole proprietor and file for bankruptcy, you will need to have an EIN if you did not have one before.

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