How to Obtain a Tax ID Number for an LLC

By Tom Speranza, J.D.

How to Obtain a Tax ID Number for an LLC

By Tom Speranza, J.D.

If you've recently formed a limited liability company (LLC), it is usually a good idea to apply promptly for a federal employer identification number (EIN) from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Not only is an EIN legally required for most LLCs, but obtaining one also helps you establish a separate legal identity for your company that can protect you from liability.

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Applying for an EIN

To apply for an EIN, your LLC must complete an Application for Employer Identification Number (Form SS-4) and submit it to the IRS. There are three ways to apply:

Apply Online

The online EIN application is the easiest and fastest method because the IRS reviews the information on the Form SS-4 immediately and can issue the new EIN in minutes. You can apply online so long as:

  • Your LLC has a principal place of business in the United States.
  • The member (owner), officer, or manager applying on the LLC's behalf—whom the IRS calls a responsible party—has a Social Security number (if the responsible party signing the SS-4 is a business entity and not an individual, it must have its own EIN to apply on the LLC's behalf).

Apply by Fax

The second quickest option is to fill out a paper or PDF version of the SS-4 and fax it to the IRS at the correct number.

If you provide a return fax number for your business, the IRS can confirm your information and issue an EIN by fax within four business days.

Apply by Mail

By far the slowest method is to mail a paper copy of the SS-4 to the correct IRS address.

The IRS confirms your information and issues the EIN within 4 weeks.

Filling Out Form SS-4

For most LLCs, completing the SS-4 is relatively simple, but there are a few questions that could require some assistance from your company's lawyer or accountant.

1. Enter basic information.

Lines 1 through 8c of the SS-4 require some basic identifying information about your LLC and the responsible party applying for it. You need:

  • The exact legal name of the LLC, as seen in its articles of organization or certificate of formation
  • Any fictitious or trade name used by the LLC that's different from its formal legal name
  • The LLC's mailing address and the state and county of its principal place of business
  • The name of the responsible party—typically a member, manager, or officer—and their Social Security number, if the responsible party is an individual, or EIN, if the responsible party is an entity

In Line 8a, check Yes for a limited liability company. In Line 8b, fill in the number of LLC members. In Line 8c, check Yes to confirm that your company organized in the United States.

2. Choose a method of taxation.

For Lines 9a and 9b, you need to know how you want your LLC to be taxed on its income (your accountant or lawyer can help you if you're not sure).

  • If your LLC has just one owner (a single-member LLC) who will include its income and expenses on their tax return, it is a sole proprietorship for tax purposes. Check the Sole Proprietorship box on Line 9a, and fill in the member's Social Security number.
  • If your LLC has more than one member and will allocate all income and expenses to the members, who will then report the income and expenses on their individual tax returns, the LLC is a partnership for tax purposes (check the Partnership box on Line 9a).
  • If your LLC has chosen to be taxed as a corporation by filing an Entity Classification Election (Form 8832) with the IRS, the LLC is a corporation for tax purposes. Check the Corporation box on Line 9a.
  • If the LLC is a corporation for tax purposes, fill in the state where your LLC formed on Line 9b.

3. Answer the questions regarding operational issues.

Lines 10 through 17 request information about your LLC's business:

  • In Line 10, disclose the reason your LLC is applying for an EIN. Most LLCs check the "Started new business" box, but if you have an existing LLC that operated for a period of time before applying for an EIN, your reason might be "Hired employees," "Complying with IRS withholding regulations," or "Banking purpose" (this might include opening an LLC bank account).
  • In Line 11, fill in the date the LLC's business started (in most cases, it's the date the LLC formed).
  • In Line 12, fill in the closing month of the LLC's accounting year (for most LLCs, it's December).
  • In Lines 13, 14, and 15, supply information about your LLC's current employees (if any) and your anticipated number of employed workers and employment tax liability during the next 12 months.
  • In Lines 16 and 17, disclose information about the general nature of the LLC's business (industry and products).

4. Identify the form signer.

At the bottom of the SS-4, fill in the name and title (member, officer, or manager) of the person signing the form on the LLC's behalf. If the responsible party you designated at the beginning of the form is an entity and not an individual, provide the signer's position at the responsible party (owner, officer, director, or manager, for example).

If you have questions, your accountant or attorney or an online service provider can help you determine whether your LLC needs an EIN and, if so, help you apply for one.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.