What is it?
The IRS assigns businesses an employer identification number (EIN) and uses it to identify their associated tax accounts. It is a unique nine-digit number that prevents your company from being confused with another. Employers require it for several tasks, including opening a business bank account, paying federal taxes, applying for business licenses and permits, and hiring employees. It is also referred to as the Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) or Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) when used for identification purposes rather than employment tax reporting.
Do you need an EIN for your Illinois business?
An EIN is necessary if your Illinois business has any of the following:
- Operates as a corporation or partnership
- Files tax returns for employment, excise, alcohol, firearms, and tobacco
- Withholds taxes on income, other than wages, paid to a non-resident alien
- Uses a Keogh Plan (retirement account for self-employed workers and business owners)
Involvement with certain types of organizations, including:
- Trusts (except some grantor-owned revocable trusts), IRAs, exempt organization business income tax returns
- Real estate mortgage investment conduits
- Non-profit organizations
- Plan Administrators
- Farmers’ cooperatives
See here for additional information on whether you need to file for an EIN.
How to Apply?
It is free to apply for an EIN through the IRS. You should file for an EIN before registering your business with the state. There are many methods to apply, including an online application, fax, mail, or telephone.
Method 1: Apply Online
Online is preferred as it is the fastest method to receive your EIN. The applicant must use a different application method if the "responsible party" (see below for additional information) is an entity with an EIN previously obtained online. The application is open weekdays from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern time. After your application is reviewed, an EIN is provided immediately. The online application is open to all entities whose legal residence, office, agency, or business is in the United States or U.S. territories. International applicants must apply through other methods, including fax, mail, or telephone. Click here to apply online now if eligible.
Method 2: Apply by Fax
Taxpayers can also complete Form SS-4 and send it to the IRS fax number listed below for Illinois businesses. A fax will be sent back with the EIN within four business days if the information on the form is validated.
Fax: (855) 641-6935
Method 3: Apply by Mail
Taxpayers can also submit Form SS-4 via mail. The application is expected to take around four weeks for the IRS to review. If it is determined that you, the applicant, need a new EIN, one will be assigned and mailed to you. Send your application to the address below for those filing for an EIN in Illinois.Internal Revenue Service
Attn: EIN Operation
Cincinnati, OH 45999
Method 4: Apply by telephone- International Applicants
Applicants whose principal business, office or agency, or legal residence is located outside the United States can call 267-941-1099 (not a toll-free number) Monday to Friday from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern time to obtain their EIN. The person calling must be authorized to receive the EIN and be prepared to answer questions concerning Form SS-4. This is also an option for Illinois businesses who prefer this method of filing over the others listed previously for whatever reason.
Federal Tax ID number vs. State Tax ID Number
It is essential to distinguish between two types of tax ID numbers. As mentioned previously, the Federal Tax ID number is your business’s EIN. Your EIN is used for federal purposes. The State Tax ID number is similar to your EIN but is used to pay taxes at the local or state level. Your Illinois state tax ID number is required if you hire employees or require sales tax exemption permits. If you are also selling any taxable goods and services or are selling regulated goods such as alcohol or tobacco where you will need to pay excise taxes, you must also apply for the state tax ID number.
How to apply for an Illinois Tax ID number?
Like the EIN steps outlined above, you can obtain an Illinois state tax ID number through phone, mail, fax, or online. As with the EIN, online applications are processed more quickly and are preferable. You can access the online application here. If applying via mail, fill out this document to register with the Illinois Department of Revenue.
Click here for additional information on how to apply for a State Tax ID number in Illinois. If you have any questions or issues, contact the Illinois Department of Revenue Monday- Friday between 8 am and 4:30 pm CDT at 217-785-3707.
Other important info:
Daily Limitation of EIN
The IRS limits EIN issuance to once daily per responsible party. This limitation applies to all EIN application methods (online, fax, mail, or phone).
Regardless of the EIN application method, you must provide the owner, trustor, general partner, or true principal officer's name and taxpayer identification number (SSN, ITIN, or EIN). They will be referred to as the "responsible party" by the IRS. This individual will be responsible for controlling, managing, or directing the applicant entity and the disposition of its funds and assets. The responsible party is typically an individual, and the only exception is if they are a government entity.
Nominees are provided temporary authority to act on behalf of entities during the entity's formation. They are NOT considered the "responsible party" and are NOT allowed to obtain EINs. Therefore, they should not be listed in the application. All EIN applications (mail, fax, electronic) need to be completed with the responsible party's name, taxpayer identification number, and signature. To correct business information where a nominee was used, click here to obtain the statement of correction paperwork. You will also have to pay a nonrefundable fee of $37.
EIN expiration/ cancellation
EINs don't expire; once issued to an entity, another business can never recycle them. The only way to cancel an EIN is if it is determined that you never needed one after the IRS has already administered one. For instance, if your business never started running, a request can be sent to the IRS to close your business account.
To proceed with closing a business account, send a letter that includes the complete legal name of the business, the EIN, business address, and a reason for closing. Also, include the EIN assignment notice if that was issued when the EIN was assigned. Send the documents to the following address:Internal Revenue Service
Kansas City, MO 64108
Internal Revenue Service
Ogden, UT 84201
If the business dissolves, the EIN will become inactive, closing your account with the IRS. There is no need to take additional steps to cancel your EIN.
Report Business Changes
A new EIN is unnecessary if there are changes to your business, including location or business name. File the Statement of Correction with a non-refundable processing fee of $12. Click here for the form. Also, the form cannot be handwritten.
If you were assigned an EIN but lost it, you can find it in these ways:
- Locate the EIN assignment notice received when you applied for and received the number. It should have it listed.
- Contact financial institutions where you used your EIN to open accounts or apply for a loan. They will have it on your applications or files.
- Speak to state or local agencies you went through to apply for licensing. They should have your EIN on file.
- Find your business tax returns. The EIN will be listed on these documents.
- Finally, you can call 800-829-4933, the IRS business and Specialty Tax Line. Hours of operation are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday Eastern time. The IRS will provide the EIN to the “responsible party” defined above. You will provide some identifying information to prove your authorization.
If you have any additional questions, please contact 800-829-4933, the IRS Business and Specialty Tax Line.