An Employer Identification Number is to a business what a Social Security number is to an individual. It allows you to file taxes with the IRS. If you start a small business, work as a consultant or do freelance work, either now or in the future, you might end up applying to the IRS for a federal EIN.
As an investor researching a company in which you've invested or are thinking of investing, you might want to find its EIN. You can get the company's number, but you won't get their certificate.
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Understanding how to get a copy of a lost EIN certificate will help you get the information you need to file your taxes or provide this information to other business partners.
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What Is an EIN?
When you do business, you'll need to identify yourself as a legitimate entity to a variety of stakeholders. One way to do this is to provide an EIN. From opening a bank account to applying for credit to filing your taxes, you'll need an EIN. You can apply for and get an EIN online, receiving your EIN (if you qualify) immediately, according to the IRS website.
You will then get a confirmation letter in the mail from the IRS and your EIN document. Make a copy of your EIN letter and keep both in separate places to make sure you always have access to this information. You can digitize it and send a copy to an email account for further security.
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Contact the IRS
The first step in trying to get a copy of your EIN certificate is to visit the IRS website page, "Lost or Misplaced Your EIN?" Follow the directions, which include calling the IRS Business & Specialty Tax Line at 800-829-4933. Comments on consumer websites indicate that getting help this way can be a quick process or take long periods of being on hold.
You must be authorized to ask for this information, such as being an officer or owner of the company, and be able to identify yourself as such. The process of getting an EIN mailed to you (it won't be given to you over the phone) can take 10-14 days.
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Other Way to Get the Number
If you don't need the actual EIN certificate, but just need the number to complete a business transaction, you can use several different methods.
If you have opened any business accounts (such as a bank account) that required you to give your EIN, you might be able to contact that party and have them give you your EIN. If your business has credit reports generated by Equifax, Experian or TransUnion, get a copy of any of your three reports, which will contain your EIN.
If you have an IRS online account, log in and look up your EIN. If you are an investor and looking for a publicly traded company's EIN, you can visit the website of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and use its EDGAR online Forms and Filings (SEC) database to find the EIN.