Tuesday, February 6, 2007

FAQ: When can I obtain an EIN number for the corporation or LLC I'm forming?

Another frequently asked question:

When can I obtain an EIN number for the corporation or limited liability company I'm forming?

The definition of "EIN" is Employer Identification Number. An EIN, sometimes also called a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN), Taxpayer ID number, or Federal Identification Number (FIN) is in essence the business entity equivalent of a social security number. Individuals have social security numbers, while corporations, LLCs, and some sole proprietorships, partnerships, and trusts, may obtain an EIN.

How do I obtain an EIN? EINs are issued by the IRS; apply with Form SS-4 by mail, fax, phone, or online. The name EIN is somewhat misleading, since an EIN is often needed regardless of whether a corp. or LLC will have any employees. For example, an EIN is generally required to open a business bank account in a corporate name, or to file corporate taxes.

Because they want to open a bank account as soon as possible, clients and potential clients often want to know how they can get an EIN as soon as possible. While it is not time-consuming to have an EIN issued once the corporation or LLC is formed (I obtain them same-day for clients), it is not possible to issue an EIN for an entity that does not yet exist. Anyone who claims they can get you one today is lying, misguided, or filing fraudulent paperwork on your behalf with the IRS - and probably with your name and social security number on it.

So if an EIN is needed yesterday, then the corporation or LLC itself is also needed yesterday, and the options that should be considered include expedited filing procedures to form the entity as soon as possible, or the purchase of an already-formed, ready-to-use shelf corporation or shelf LLC.

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