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f you're a small business owner or a solopreneur, at some point, you may need to fill out an SS-4. The form, available through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), is used to request an Employer Identification Number (EIN). Not all businesses are required to have an EIN, but even if you're not, it can be helpful to have one. Keep reading to learn more about the SS-4 form, who needs one, and how to submit one.

What is an SS-4 form? 

Form SS-4 is a document used by the IRS to apply for an EIN. An EIN is a nine-digit number used by the government to identify a business entity. It's used when reporting or filing taxes, similar to a social security number for individuals. 

Business entities that may need an EIN include: 

  • Corporations
  • Partnerships
  • Estates
  • Trusts
  • Non-profits

Businesses, except for select sole proprietors and single-person LLCs, generally must have an EIN. Still, having an EIN can benefit your business no matter what type of business you have. It can speed up the process of getting approved for a business loan quicker. If you plan to open a business checking account or obtain a business license, you may be required to have an EIN.

Still not sure if you need one? Check out the the IRS's checklist for determining whether you need an EIN.

What information do you need to fill out form SS-4?

Confirm whether your business type require an EIN. You can still apply for one even if it's not a necessity. If you're interested in applying for an EIN, take time to gather the information needed ahead of time. This will streamline the process and ensure the form is filled out correctly and completely.

Information you may need to provide when filling out the form includes:

  • Your legal name or the legal name of your business
  • Your business' trade name ("doing business as" name or DBA), if different from the legal name
  • Your SSN, ITIN, or EIN
  • Physical address/mailing address
  • Type of business entity
  • Reason for applying for an EIN
  • Number of employees
  • Principal business activity
  • Principal type of products sold or services provided
  • Business start or acquisition date
  • Closing month of the business’s accounting year

You will also need to determine whether you expect to pay $1,000 or more in employment taxes annually. If so, you will need to submit Form 941 quarterly. If you expect to pay under that amount each year, you can choose to fill out Form 944 annually instead.

How to fill out Form SS-4

The SS-4 Form requires specific information about your business. You must fully complete the one-page form to be eligible for an EIN. Follow the instructions below to fill out the SS-4 form through the IRS.

1. Complete the general business information section

The beginning section asks for information about your business name(s) and location:

  • The legal name of your business or entity (Line 1) 
  • Trade name (or DBA) of your business if it is different from the legal name (Line 2)
  • Executor, administrator, trustee, or “care of” name if applying as a trust or estate (Line 3)
  • The mailing address of the business (Lines 4a and 4b)
  • The physical address of the business if different from the mailing address (Lines 5a and 5b)
  • Entity's primary location 
  • Full name of the responsible party (Line 7a)
  • Social security number of the responsible party (Line 7b)

2. Select a business entity type 

Next, you will need to signify whether your business is an LLC (8a - 8c)  and choose a business entity type from the list of options on the form (Line 9). Options include: 

  • Sole proprietor
  • Partnership
  • Corporation 
  • Personal service corporation
  • Church or church-controlled organization
  • Plan administrator
  • Estate
  • Trust
  • Military/National Guard
  • Farmers' cooperative
  • State/local government
  • Federal government
  • Indian tribal governments/enterprises
  • Other nonprofit organization (specify)
  • Other (specify)

3. Provide more details about your business 

In this last section, you will provide additional details about your business:

  • The reason you are applying for an EIN (Line 10)
  • Date the business was started (Line 11)
  • The closing month of your business accounting year (Line 12)
  • The highest number of employees expected in the next 12 months (Line 13)
  • Confirm whether you want to file IRS Form 994, which is for used small businesses that expect to pay $1,000 or less in employment taxes (Line 14)
  • First date wages or annuities were paid (Line 15) 
  • The principal activity of your business (Line 16) 
  • More details on products and services provided by your business (Line 17)
  • Mark whether you have previously applied for an EIN (Line 18)

How to submit form SS-4

Ensure all of the information provided is correct before signing the form. The easiest way to apply for an EIN directly is online through the IRS website. You can also apply by fax or by mail. There's also an option to apply by phone for applicants outside of the U.S. or U.S. possessions.

If you submit your application online, you'll get your EIN immediately after your information is validated. If applying by mail or fax, it may take up to four or five weeks to receive your EIN. 

The process for submitting Form SS-4 is straightforward. Follow the instructions above to get an EIN easily – this will unlock your ability to start a business, change your existing business structure, hire employees, and more.

Novo Platform Inc. strives to provide accurate information but cannot guarantee that this content is correct, complete, or up-to-date. This page is for informational purposes only and is not financial or legal advice nor an endorsement of any third-party products or services. All products and services are presented without warranty. Novo Platform Inc. does not provide any financial or legal advice, and you should consult your own financial, legal, or tax advisors.

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