It can be a frustrating experience to lose or not have access to a W-2 form and need an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for starting a business or working as an independent contractor. While obtaining an EIN through a W-2 form is the most common way to get one, alternative methods can also help you get an EIN even without a W-2. This article aims to provide readers with step-by-step instructions and helpful tips for finding their EIN.
What is an Employer Identification Number (EIN)?
An EIN, also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number, is a unique nine-digit number assigned to businesses and organizations for tax purposes. It is similar to a social security number but used for business entities. EINs are obtained through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and are necessary for a variety of reasons, including opening bank accounts or applying for business licenses.
Typically, an employer would receive an EIN through a W-2 form, which includes the employer’s EIN, annual wages, and other information necessary for filing taxes. However, if an individual does not have a W-2 form, there are alternative methods for obtaining the EIN.
It’s essential to note that regardless of the method used to obtain the EIN, it is crucial to use the correct EIN for your entity as using the wrong one can lead to legal and financial issues.
Alternative Ways to Obtain an EIN
There are several alternative methods for obtaining an EIN without a W-2 form:
- Direct Contact with the IRS: By contacting the IRS directly, an individual can receive an EIN promptly. However, the process may be more challenging for those who have never applied for an EIN before.
- Online EIN Application Service: Several online companies provide EIN application services for those who need it. These companies may charge a fee for their services but can assist in obtaining the EIN quickly.
- Apply by Mail or Online: An individual can apply for an EIN through mail or online by filling out Form SS-4. This method allows the person to apply for the EIN directly from the IRS without a W-2 form.
Each alternative option has its pros and cons, which we discuss below.
Step-by-Step Instructions for Each Alternative Method
For those interested in applying for an EIN through any of the alternative methods, the following is a step-by-step process to guide you through:
Direct Contact with IRS
An individual can contact the IRS directly by calling the EIN hotline, which is available Monday through Friday, 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM local time. The number is 1-800-829-4933. The following are the steps:
- Call the EIN hotline: Dial 1-800-829-4933 and follow the automated prompts. Wait for the representative to get on the line.
- Provide Information: The representative will request a series of personal information, including your name, date of birth, social security number, current address, and the reason for needing the EIN.
- Receive the EIN: The representative should provide you with your EIN after verifying your identity and completing your application.
Online EIN Application Service
Online EIN application services are convenient for those who need an EIN quickly. Here are the steps to follow:
- Choose an Online EIN Service: There are several online companies that provide EIN application services, and each has different fees and service levels. Research and select the provider that suits your needs.
- Fill Out the EIN Application: Once you have chosen a provider, follow their instructions to fill out the online form. The information required will be similar to that required by the IRS, including your name, social security number, and the reason for needing an EIN.
- Submit and Pay: After submitting your application, you may be required to pay a fee. Fees range from $50 to $300 depending on the company you choose. The provider will then submit your application to the IRS on your behalf.
- Receive the EIN: Depending on the provider you choose, the EIN should be available within 24 hours to three weeks, depending on the service level you opted for.
Apply by Mail or Online
Applying for an EIN by mail or online is an excellent option for those who prefer a conventional paper application or do not wish to pay online EIN service fees. Here are the steps to follow:
- Download and Complete Form SS-4: Download and complete Form SS-4 from the IRS website or obtain a physical copy by mail.
- Send the Completed Form: Mail the completed Form SS-4 to the IRS or submit the form online, depending on your preference. The IRS will then verify your information and call you for any verification it needs.
- Receive the EIN: After verifying your information, the IRS will provide you with your EIN, which you will receive by mail.
Tips for Those Who Lost Their W-2 Form
If you lost your W-2 form, you may still retrieve it by following these tips:
- Retreive from Employer: Contact your employer’s payroll department, inform them of your situation, and request a replacement copy of your W-2.
- Retrieve from Social Security Administration: If you did not receive your W-2 or lost your W-2 form, you can request a copy of your W-2 from the Social Security Administration. You will need to complete and submit Form SSA-1099.
- Retrieve from the IRS: If your employer or SSA cannot provide you with a copy of your W-2 form, you can request an IRS transcript using Form 4506-T. An IRS transcript contains most of the same information as the W-2 form.
Government Websites/Resources for Finding an EIN
Several government websites and non-profit organizations provide EIN-related resources, such as:
- IRS Website
- Small Business Administration (SBA)
Summary of Information and Conclusion
In summary, obtaining an EIN is essential for starting a business or working as an independent contractor. While obtaining an EIN through a W-2 form is the most common way, alternative methods can also help you get an EIN even without a W-2. Each alternative option differs in terms of fees and processing time, so it is essential to evaluate each to determine what works best for your situation.
If you lost your W-2 form, you could easily retrieve it from your employer, the SSA, or the IRS. Several government websites and non-profit organizations can also provide EIN-related resources.
We hope this article has helped you find your EIN and provided helpful tips for obtaining your W-2 form if necessary. If you have any questions or feedback, please do not hesitate to contact us.