How to Obtain a Tax ID Number


A tax identification number is not the same as a Social Security Number. Tax identification numbers are issued to companies, including self employed individuals for tax and indentification purposes. Applying for a tax identification number has been made much simpler by the IRS, as you can receive your number after answering a few simple questions online. Once you have your number, you are identified as an employer by the IRS. The number must be activated in the IRS database, even if your only employee is yourself, before it can be used.

Visit the Internal Revenue Service website. The website has information for companies on how to file taxes and according to the site, one of the first steps is applying for a Tax ID Number.

Click on the top menu bar on the button that says "Businesses." This button is just to the right of the button that says "Individuals" and is the second button on the tool bar.

Click on the link that says "Apply Now," the link is located halfway down the page. In the past applicants were required to fill out a document and send it to the IRS by mail. This is no longer required.

Answer the questions that the website asks you after clicking on the "Apply Now" link. This will give the IRS the information it needs to determine if you need a Tax ID Number.

Write down the Tax ID Number that is provided. Also, print out the confirmation page for your own records so you have a record of your Tax ID Number.

Wait for a confirmation to be sent to you from the IRS. This is when you can use your Tax ID Number for filing electronic tax documents. It usually takes approximately two weeks to receive your Tax ID Number and for it to be actived in the IRS computer system.

Call the IRS at (800) 829-4933 to apply by phone. Home-care recipients applying for a new Tax ID Number are restricted from using the online application. Recipients must apply over the phone or file out an SS-4 form and mail or fax it back to the IRS.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you are a self employed individual, keep in mind that using a Tax ID Number identifies you as a business and requires that you pay self employment taxes on your tax return.
  • Do not wait too long to apply for a Tax ID Number. Waiting until the end of the year may be too late. This is because you must wait for the number to become active in the IRS system, and then must present the number to anyone paying you that will submit a 1099 form. This form must be mailed by the end of January, so waiting until late December can cause difficulties in completing the process.

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