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Employer identification number (EIN)

An employee identification number (EIN), sometimes called a taxpayer identification number or a federal tax identification number, is a unique, nine-digit identifier that helps the Internal Revenue Service easily identify a business entity for tax purposes. Businesses need an EIN for many of the same reasons that individuals need social security numbers, providing vital information that allows a company to pay employees, open bank accounts, and determine what kind of income tax and business tax returns the organization is required to file.

It costs nothing to apply for an EIN online by filing Form SS-4 on the official IRS website. Employers of any size can request an EIN so long as their business is physically located in the United States. That includes sole proprietorships, LLCs, corporations, non-profits, and government agencies.

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