What Is an FEIN?


Quick Answer

A federal employer identification number is a nine-digit tax identification number assigned to businesses by the Internal Revenue Service. FEINs are required for corporations, partnerships, non-profits and anyone with employees.

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Full Answer

Businesses filing employment, excise, or alcohol, tobacco and firearms tax returns must also have a FEIN. The application for a FEIN is available online at the IRS website or by faxing or mailing in Form SS-4 (Application for Employer Identification Number).

A sole proprietor can use his Social Security number rather than obtaining a FEIN unless he has employees, a Keogh or Solo 401(k) retirement plan, or if he has filed for bankruptcy. Although not always required, a sole proprietor can opt to use a FEIN for tax purposes to avoid identity theft and establish himself as an independent contractor.

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