Federal Tax ID Number

You need to obtain a federal tax number, also referred to an Employer Identification Number (EID), as soon as possible. This is a number the federal government and many state and local government agencies use rather than one person's social security number. Most of the government forms you fill out request this number, so you might as well get it now and check that task off your to-do list.

The fact that you do not have employees has no bearing on your need for an EIN. Most of these systems are set up with the expectation that while you may not need everything at the beginning, you will be all set when the needs do arise.

Who actually obtains the federal tax number?

Anyone directly associated with the organization. If the person acting as your incorporator is available, ask him or her to do it to keep things simple.

The Process

Obtaining a federal EIN is probably the easiest process you will encounter. You have three options.

  • Call 1-800-829-4933 to make your application. You'll have a federal tax number before you hang up.

  • Download IRS Form #SS-4 from www.irs.gov. Fill it out and mail it in.

  • Apply online (www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,id=98350,00.html) and have the confirmation letter e-mailed to you in about a week.

The person who applies for an EIN will need to use her personal social security number for reference. She will also need to have the organization's legal name and address with her. There is no liability incurred for using that social security number. The whole point of having the number is for standardized corporate record keeping.

The immediate benefit of getting an EIN as soon as possible is that from the moment you receive the number, you will no longer need to use a personal social security number on any public documents. In an age when identity theft is not uncommon, this offers an easy way to make your identification numbers too complicated for the casual criminal.

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