What is an EIN?
An Employer Identification Number, or EIN, is a unique, nine-digit identification number that the IRS assigns to organizations in order to track their tax accounts and annual returns, much like a Social Security Number is used for individuals.
EINs are also called Federal Tax Identification Numbers or Federal Employer Identification Numbers. Many types of organizations have EINs, including corporations, partnerships, nonprofits, trusts, estates, government agencies, and other business entities.
Nonprofit organizations must get an EIN in order to apply for recognition of tax-exempt status. However, EINs are quick to obtain online.
EINs can be especially useful when searching for a specific organization, especially if it has changed its name, or if several other organizations have similar names.
See also our related Knowledge Base articles:
- How do I start a nonprofit organization?
- Where can I find an organization's Form 990 or 990-PF?
More articles for starting a nonprofit»
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Explore resources curated by our staff for this topic:
Apply online for an EIN (Employer Identification Number)
Provides information on using the preferred online application for an EIN at the IRS web site, including special instructions for specific types of organizations.
Employer ID Numbers (EINs)
Explains in brief what an EIN is and lists related resources on the IRS web site.
Form SS-4: Application for Employer Identification Number
Form SS-4 may be used to apply for an EIN by mail or fax. Organizations can also apply for an EIN online or by phone. Instructions for completing the form can also be downloaded from the IRS site.
How to Apply for an EIN
Lists the available methods for applying for an EIN and provides instructions for each.
Obtaining an Employer Identification Number for an Exempt Organization
Provides instructions for obtaining an EIN for a tax exempt organization.
Publication 1635: Understanding Your EIN
Provides an explanation of what EINsare, how they are used by the IRS, and how to apply for an EIN.