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What is IRS Form SS-4?
How To Apply For Your SS-4 Form
Form SS-4 is the one-page form needed to apply for an employer identification number with the United States Internal Revenue Service. Though most small business owners, other than sole proprietors, have likely already completed Form SS-4, you might not have a copy of the form on file. If you need a copy of your application for an employer identification number, this can become a problem.
You’ve likely seen employer identification numbers listed as a nine-digit number and abbreviated to the name EIN when filing for your tax return. What you might not realize, however, is that lenders may request a copy of your IRS Form SS-4. In this circumstance, you’ll likely need to know how to obtain a copy of the IRS Form SS-4 that you submitted.
A Bit More On IRS Form SS-4
You might not remember filling out or filing a form with the name “SS-4” because it isn’t a long or arduous task in the least. The form SS-4 is only a single page of questions requesting your information. To apply for an EIN, you will need to supply the legal name of your business along with its operating address, the legal name of the applicant, and a few other pieces of information. If you are the one submitting the application for the EIN, you will also need to submit your legal name, social security number, or ITIN.
Some other information that you will want to have on hand includes:
The reason you want to apply for an EIN
Number of employees you expect to have in the coming year
The date your business started
The type of entity your business is and its legal operating name
Your principal business activity
The principal type of services and products that your business has to offer
You may not be the owner of the business, however. Any responsible party who controls or manages the entity and its assets can use their name to apply for an EIN by mail, fax, or online. Please note that to apply for an EIN by phone, you must be an international applicant.
If you don’t have one of these identification numbers for your business and you need to apply for an EIN, we can guide you through the process.
How Do I Apply for Form SS-4 Online?
Do I Need to Apply for an EIN?
If you are starting a new business and have not yet filed United States IRS Form SS-4, you must do so right away. Luckily, applying for an employer identification number with IRS Form SS-4 is simple, and no matter which name associated with your business is on the application for the EIN, that individual has many different ways to submit the request.
First, if you are an LLC or sole proprietor without employees, you won’t need to file to obtain an employer identification number. However, if you depend on employees for work, want to apply for a business license or business bank account, are part of corporations/partnerships, or operate as a non-profit organization or LLC, you will need to submit an application for IRS Form SS-4. Please note that this list is not exhaustive. You should continue your research to better understand whether your business requires an employer identification number.
The Application for Employer Identification
To successfully submit an application for employer identification, you must first be a responsible party to the business. This means you have a connection with the business in such a way that you manage or control its assets and funds.
Once you have determined that you are eligible to file the IRS Form SS-4, you can decide how you would like to submit your application. The easiest way for most people to submit their application for employer identification is through the IRS website. The questionnaire is only one page of standard English and shouldn’t require much time to complete. You will just need to fill in a few standard bits of information such as your legal name, the legal name of your business, etc.
Submitting Your Application as a Responsible Party
If you put your name on the application as a responsible party, you may also print the application, complete it with pen and ink, and mail it to the IRS. The Internal Revenue Service also accepts these applications by fax. Oddly, employers can apply for identification by phone, but the IRS tax professional can only handle phone service in the case of international employers.
A Note About Cookies
When you access the IRS website to provide the information for your Form SS-4, you might see a notice at the top of the page reporting that it may need to place cookies on your computer. Cookies are small pieces of data that websites sometimes store on your computer to form an opinion about how you interact with the web page. A web page stores these cookies on your computer to remember the past interactions that you have had on the page, and then adapts the page to your preferences.
If you are the type of person who doesn’t want these cookies in the way of your access to a web page, you can usually turn them off. If the Form SS-4 web page gives you information about its cookies, it will usually use plain English to make sure you know whether or not you can turn them off. However, if you turn cookies off, it still may need to place a single cookie on your computer as a step to make sure it doesn’t store any more cookies on your computer the next time you access the web page.
Reasons a Lender Might Request a Copy of Your Form SS-4
Small businesses may need to apply for a loan to obtain the funds that they need for operation. During this process, the lender might ask for a copy of the business’s IRS Form SS-4. This is because your EIN is something akin to your social security number. Since your business is a different type of entity from human individuals, it needs its own identification number, which is necessary for tax filing purposes with the IRS.
In the same way that you would need to submit your social security when applying for a personal loan, you may need an EIN when applying for a business loam, depending on the type of entity of your business. However, sometimes it can be difficult to verify the EIN for all types of businesses, which is why a lender will often request a copy of the form you used to apply for an EIN.
Why You May Need IRS Form SS-4 for Employer Identification Number (EIN) Verification
Even though clerical errors can still happen with today’s technology, they are most often the result of people filing forms on paper rather than electronically. The IRS office is well aware of the potential for clerical errors, and your lender’s office will be as well. This is why they can’t take the EIN printed on your tax return as a valid way to verify the identification number of your business entity and may need a copy of your Form SS-4 as a way to verify instead.
Even seemingly small clerical errors like this can take months to correct, which will cause extreme headaches for all individuals involved. When a lender asks for verification outside of your tax returns, they are only doing their due diligence. Once you have a copy of your application for employer identification, your lender can continue with their underwriting process and feel positive about their decision to lend to your business.
Be Vigilant with Your Documentation
Your IRS Form SS-4 is your key to quick approval for your business loan. Before you apply for your loan, make sure you have all of the documents that are necessary to make the process smooth for your lender. They will appreciate your preparedness and may be more likely to lend to you again in the future if the need arises.
Don’t Have an SS-4 Notice?
Unlike most corporations, LLCs and sole proprietors and/or other entity types without employees likely will not have received a notice for IRS Form SS-4. All other business entity types will need to obtain an EIN for tax purposes. So, if you don’t have an EIN, and you operate as an LLC or sole proprietor with no employees, there isn’t anything you need to do with form SS-4. For those particular types of businesses, if you require a loan for your business, you will need to apply with your social security number instead of an EIN. As a simple guideline, if you have employees, you will need an EIN, otherwise, you probably don’t.
However, if you are any other type of business without an EIN number, you need to obtain one before you apply for a business loan. As an individual, you are a different entity than your business, so you won’t be able to use your social security number to secure a loan the way sole proprietors and LLCs without employees can. You can’t trade social security numbers for EINs.
Why You Should Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN)
You should apply for an EIN to assign a number to your business entity that a tax preparer or tax professional can use to identify your corporation. This number is a part of the family of tax IDs that associate with your business, and is often required by lenders when you attempt to secure a business loan. If you do not have one of these numbers and you are currently doing business, you may be avoiding tax obligations with the IRS.
If you are beginning a new small business, you should collect the necessary information and submit your SS-4 Form to the IRS for tax filing purposes. This tax advice can help you avoid having to pay penalties or worse trouble in the future.
Submitting Your Application for a New EIN
In the rare instance that you need to file for a new EIN, you can apply with the same process by filing another SS-4 Form with the IRS. Some cases in which you might need to get a new EIN might include an estate takeover of a business after the death of the owner, a change of business from a corporation to a partnership (and vice versa), or change of business from a sole proprietorship to corporations/partnerships (and vice versa). You will also need to file an SS-4 Form to get a new tax ID if you obtain an existing business and intend to change it to a sole proprietorship.
How Can I Get a Copy of My SS-4?
For those who are filing for a business loan and need a copy of their IRS Form SS-4, there are a few ways that you can obtain it. The first step is to consider that it may already be on one of your digital devices. If you submitted your Form SS4 online, you might have a notice along with a copy of your EIN in PDF format.
Alternative Methods to Get a Copy of Your SS-4 Form
If digital recovery of SS-4 instructions isn’t an option, you can always access a copy of your EIN assignment letter directly from the IRS.
Additionally, you may also be able to get a copy of your notice from the institution that your business banks with. Every corporation with a banking account needs to submit its Form SS-4 notice at the time of opening the account. Get in touch with your bank and find out whether they can print out a copy for your records.
Before you contact the IRS and wait to receive a copy of your notice via snail mail, ask your accountant whether they have a copy of the notice. When reporting to their job, they could have requested a copy from you for business records.
Contacting the IRS for a Copy of Your Identification Assignment Letter
If all else fails, you will need to speak to a person in the IRS office and ask for a copy. You can reach a representative at 800-829-4933 Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Once you reach an IRS representative, explain that you are requesting a copy of your Form SS-4 notice. At that time, they may ask you to give them some information about you and your company. Generally, you will need to provide your actual EIN. You should therefore prepare for the call by having an old tax return on hand.
After you explain your relation to the company and the verification process is complete, you’ll want to ask for a copy of your EIN assignment letter. Make sure you emphasize that you aren’t just seeking an SS-4 form. After you have made your request, you will receive a mailed letter in response.
Look in your company’s office mail for the copy of your EIN assignment letter to arrive at the business address that you have on file with the IRS.
Benefits of Having a Copy of Your EIN Assignment Letter
Having this form on hand is essential when you first begin your business. Once you have successfully applied for and received an employer identification number, you will be able to apply for business loans as well as a business bank account. Having access to these two things will make you feel like your business is taking off.
Prep Your IRS SS4 Form Along with Other Documents for a Loan
When you have any business with the office of the IRS, it is wise to have all of your documentation properly organized and completed. Being prepared with your forms can make the entire process of applying for a loan much smoother. A lack of preparedness at the time of your loan application will only mean that your loan will be even more delayed, and you may leave a bad impression on your lender at that. Now your business is without the funds that it needs for operation, and you have to wait longer for your loan’s approval.
Requesting and locating copies of all of the documentation that you might need when applying for a business loan will take time in and of itself. As you begin collecting these documents, you can also begin to store them in designated spaces such that you are already organized the next time you need to access them.
It Doesn’t Have to Take Long
Being prepared is a must for any business owner. Once you’ve done that, getting access to an EIN and filing for a loan shouldn’t take you very long. The entire Form SS-4 will only take you 20 minutes at most to fill out. If you submit your documentation online, you can have your tax ID number almost instantaneously. But if you decide to use other methods, it can take much longer. Response from a fax submission will likely take a few business days to a week. You shouldn’t expect to hear back from a USPS submission for a few weeks.
The Unsuspecting SS-4 Form
It may not seem like a big deal to those who are unfamiliar with it, but the IRS Form SS-4 is an essential form for budding businesses to file for. EINs are vital to securing the future of any corporation, so don’t skip this step. Once you have your tax ID number, make sure that you also have a copy of your assignment letter for your records if you don’t have a copy of the SS-4 Form itself. As soon as you have these documents on hand, the ability to apply for business loans and open a business bank account will be within your reach. These processes may also require further documentation, so always do thorough research to prepare before initiating either process.