What is an Employer Identification Number (EIN)?
The Employer Identification Number (EIN) is a US unique number that is issued out by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to businesses; this includes sole proprietors, churches, government bodies, trusts and estates for the process of Tax identification. The EIN is also known as the Federal Employer Identification Number or the FEIN.
This particular number is the corporate equivalent of a social security number. However, the number is issued to anyone, and this includes individuals that are responsible for paying withholding taxes on employees.
What is a Social Security Number (SSN)?
The Social Security Number also applicable in the US is a nine digit number that is usually issued to US citizens, and temporary residents that are working in the country. This particular number is usually issued to an individual by the Social Security Administration that is an independent agency of the US state government.
This particular number’s primary purpose is to track individuals for purposes of social security. However, this specific number has over time become a de facto national identification number for other purposes like taxation.
What is an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN)?
The ITIN is a US tax processing number. The nine-digit number is usually issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). These numbers are usually issued to the main taxpayer only, and are triggered after a 45 day suspension period.
The ITIN is usually issued out to individuals who may not have or are not eligible to obtain a valid United States SSN but who by law are required to file a US individual income tax return.
How Do I Get an EIN without an SSN or ITIN?
To get an SSN, you will have to be either a citizen of the US or a permanent resident of the country. In case you are a foreigner and want to bring your business to the US then you will probably need to get an EIN for your business. However, most people will tell you that to get an EIN, you will need either an SSN or ITIN, well that is not entirely correct.
When a foreign company wants to start up in the United States they are required to create a separate corporation here in the US so that the obligations and the liabilities do not follow back to the overseas parent company.
Therefore, you will need to sign up for the EIN at the very least to be able to open a bank account, even if the particular corporation will not have any employees in the US.
How to Obtain an EIN without an SSN or ITIN
To be able to obtain the EIN quickly, the principal of the corporation needs to have a social security number. However, if the principal is a foreigner and does not have the SSN or the ITIN, then the following processes will need to be followed:
- Retain a business lawyer (email@example.com) to act as the third-party designee for your business.
- The business lawyer will prepare an Application for Employer Identification Number on your behalf.
- The business lawyer will contact the Internal Revenue Service Center for International applicants and fax the signed form to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
- The business lawyer will receive the Employer Identification Number for the foreign business on the same day.
However, you should note that IRS regularly changes the processes. Sometimes while requesting for the EIN, the IRS might ask you to send the original documents with the corporation's Articles of Organizations so that they can be able to know the state of the corporation’s formation. Therefore, it is a good idea to get a qualified lawyer to guide and assist you through the entire process, that at most times is quite hectic!
► If you are a foreign or a foreign business and need to obtain your Employer Identification Number (EIN), contact Sam Mollaei, Esq., business lawyer, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone (818) 925-0002.