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What is Form SS-4: The Essential Guide

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Running a small business requires a lot of paperwork. One of the essential forms to complete is IRS Form SS-4, which is used to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN).

Getting your EIN is necessary for tax reporting purposes, but errors in filing can lead to delays that impact your ability to do business. Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or just starting, grasping the nuances of this document is vital.

This guide explains what Form SS-4 is, how to complete it, and crucial considerations to help you file it accurately. Specifically, we’ll answer these questions and more:

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    What is Form SS-4?

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    IRS Form SS-4, also known as the Application for Employer Identification Number (EIN), is a crucial document that allows businesses and other entities to obtain an EIN from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Similar to how individuals have a social security number, businesses need an EIN for various reporting purposes, such as filing taxes, opening bank accounts, hiring employees, and applying for business licenses.

    Submitting IRS Form SS-4 can be done through different methods, including fax, mail, or by utilizing the convenient online application available on the IRS website. This form consists of several sections that require specific information about the entity applying for the EIN. Once completed accurately and submitted to the IRS, it assigns a unique EIN to that particular entity.

    Who must complete Form SS-4?

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    Form SS-4 is essential for entities requiring a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). If you have employees, including household employees, completing Form SS-4 is necessary to obtain an EIN and pay employment taxes. The online application for this form is the most convenient and efficient way to apply for an EIN.

    Most business entities, such as sole proprietors, LLCs with employees, partnerships, and corporations, must complete Form SS-4 and get an EIN. If you have a limited liability company (LLC) with no employees and file a Schedule C for tax reporting, you aren’t required to have an EIN but may opt to get one anyway.

    You should file Form SS-4 to get an EIN if you plan to:

    • Start a new business.
    • Hire employees.
    • Open business bank accounts.
    • Create a trust.
    • Establish a partnership.
    • Become a sole proprietor.
    • File for bankruptcy.
    • Change the legal structure of an organization.

    Where do I get Form SS-4?

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    You can quickly obtain Form SS-4 on the IRS website. The online application process is quick and convenient, allowing individuals to complete the form digitally without hassle.

    If you prefer a different method, you can request Form SS-4 by fax from the IRS. This option provides an alternative for those who may not have easy access to the internet or prefer traditional paperwork methods.

    What information is required for Form SS-4?

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    Form SS-4 requires specific information about your business. You can submit the necessary details through various methods, such as an online application, fax, or mail.

    When using the online application, ensure you have all the required information before starting the process. It’s crucial to accurately fill out all sections of the form to avoid delays in obtaining your EIN. Remember that providing incorrect information may lead to complications down the line.

    Required information includes:

    • The legal name of the business entity.
    • Trade name, aka DBA (if different).
    • Mailing address for your business.
    • Type of business structure.
    • Reason for applying.
    • Responsible party information.
    • The date the entity was established.
    • Closing month of accounting year.
    • Number of employees.
    • Principal business activity.
    • Contact information.

    What are the steps to complete Form SS-4?

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    Here is a step-by-step guide to completing the form.

    Step 1 – Access the Form

    You can access Form SS-4 on the IRS website. You can complete the interactive form online or print it and send it by fax or email.

    Step 2 – Provide General Information

    Line 1 – Legal Name of Entity: Provide the name of the business or entity for which you’re requesting an EIN.

    Line 2 – Trade Name: If you’re using a tradename or doing business as (DBA) name, enter it here.

    Line 3 – Executor, Administrator, Trustee: This only applies if you’re requesting an EIN for a trust or estate of the decedent.

    Line 4a-b – Mailing Address: Enter your business’s mailing address on line 4a and the city, state, and zip code on line 4b.

    Line 5a-b – Street Address: If your business’s street address differs from its mailing address, enter that information on these lines.

    Line 6 – County and State: Enter the county and state where your business is located.

    Line 7a-b – Responsible Party: Enter the name of the responsible party on line 7a. You’ll then enter the responsible party’s social security number (SSN), ITIN, or pre-existing EIN on 7b.

    Step 3 – Provide Business Entity Information

    Line 8a-c – For LLCs only: Indicate if your business is an LLC, the number of LLC members, and if it was organized in the USA.

    Line 9a-b – Business Entity: If not an LLC, check the box for the type of entity or organization that applies to you. Provide the state or foreign country in line 9b if a corporation.

    Step 4 – Business Information

    Line 10 – Reason for Applying: Indicate why you’re requesting an EIN.

    Line 11 – Date Business Started: Provide the date when the business was officially started.

    Line 12 – Closing Month of Accounting Year: Indicate the month when the business’s accounting year ends.

    Line 13 – Highest Number of Employees Expected: Specify the maximum number of employees the business expects to have in the upcoming year.

    Line 14 – Form 944 Indication: Entities that expect to have an employment tax liability of $1,000 or less for a full calendar year can indicate if they’d prefer to file Form 944 rather than Form 941.

    Line 15 – First Date Wages or Annuities Were Paid: Indicate the first date when you paid or expect to pay wages for your employees.

    Line 16 – Principal Activity: Describe the primary activity or product of the business.

    Line 17 – Product or Service: Specify the business’s main product or service.

    Line 18 – Previous EIN: Indicate if the applicant has received an EIN. If yes, provide the Employer Identification Number in the space provided.

    Step 4 – Third Party Designee

    Only complete this section if you want a designee to receive the EIN and answer questions about the form’s completion. Provide the name, phone number, and personal identification number (PIN) of the individual you authorize to discuss your application with the IRS. This person can be an employee, accountant, or any other third party helping you with the application process.

    Step 5 – Submit Form SS-4

    To submit a completed Form SS-4, you can do so either online or by mail. If submitting online, visit the IRS website and complete the form electronically. Make sure to provide all the necessary information accurately.

    If mailing the form, send it to the appropriate address listed on the form instructions. Double-check that all required fields are completed and that the information is legible. It’s essential to include any required documentation or additional forms with your submission to avoid delays in processing. After submitting the form, keep a copy for your records.

    Frequently Asked Questions

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    Here are the most common questions about IRS form SS-4

    Why is an Employment Identification Number important?

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    An EIN is essential for entities to identify themselves when reporting to the IRS. This number is a unique identifier, replacing the need for a social security number in employment-related matters. Using an EIN, businesses can maintain control over their sensitive information and protect employees’ data.

    An EIN is also commonly used when doing business with other entities. You might need an EIN for the following:

    Can I use my SSN instead of an EIN?

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    Business owners cannot substitute their social security number (SSN) for an EIN for employment tax purposes. The IRS mandates that businesses with staff members have an EIN.

    This unique identifier helps the IRS keep track of businesses and their tax obligations accurately. Whether you opt for the convenience of applying online or prefer traditional methods like fax or mail, obtaining an EIN is crucial in ensuring compliance with IRS regulations.

    Can I file Form SS-4 online?

    Yes, you can file Form SS-4 online through the IRS website. The online application process is quick and efficient, allowing you to receive your Employer Identification Number (EIN) immediately after completing the form.

    Is there a filing fee for Form SS-4?

    No, there is no filing fee to submit Form SS-4 and obtain an EIN. This means that entities can obtain an EIN without incurring any additional costs. The absence of a fee makes it easier and more accessible for businesses to acquire the necessary identification number.

    Do I need a business bank account to complete Form SS-4?

    Form SS-4 does not mandate having a business bank account. You can easily fill out this form without needing a specific type of account.

    What does responsible party mean on Form SS-4?

    The responsible party on Form SS-4 is the person or entity that oversees and manages the applicant’s operations. When completing the form, this individual or entity must provide their social security number (SSN) or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN). The IRS uses this information for reporting purposes to identify who controls the entity.

    Pros & Cons of Being the Responsible Party on Form SS-4

    pros, and, cons


    • Control over the application process, ensuring accuracy and completeness.
    • Accountability for information provided to prevent errors.
    • Primary point of contact for IRS communication.
    • Authority to make decisions, expediting the process.


    • Potential liability for mistakes or inaccuracies.
    • Time commitment is required to gather the necessary information.
    • Risk of fraud and identity theft.
    • Stressful responsibility of ensuring compliance with IRS regulations.

    How do I get a copy of my SS-4 online?

    To obtain a copy of your SS-4 form, you can submit an online application through the IRS website. This process allows you to request the form conveniently without visiting any physical location. Fill out the necessary details online and submit your application electronically.

    Alternatively, if you prefer faxing such requests, you can send your request directly to the IRS. This method provides an alternative way for individuals who may not have access to a reliable internet connection or prefer traditional methods of communication. Faxing your request ensures that it reaches the necessary department promptly for processing.

    What is Form SS-4 – Final Thoughts

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    Completing Form SS-4 might seem daunting initially, but with the right approach and attention to detail, you’ll have your EIN in no time. Follow the steps in this guide to complete and submit the form successfully.

    Contact us if you have more questions about IRS Form SS-4 or to apply for a small business loan. Our alternative funding experts can help you find the best financing options for your business goals.


    We will help you grow your small business.

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