If you’re interested in any of the following, you’ll need an an Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number:
The Internal Revenue Service issues IENs for corporations and partnerships to properly track their business activities for taxation and general monitoring. Here’s a full list of different types of businesses that are required to have an employer identification number.
Even if you’re a sole proprietorship, you still might want to get an EIN to protect your identity. You don’t want to go around handing out your social security number all the time, after all.
But what if you aren’t based in the US? Can you still get an EIN? If so, how do you get an EIN for a foreign entity?
Let's start with a basic question:
Before your business can operate in a state other than your home state, your corporation, LLC or other entity must qualify to “transact business” in that state, and is considered a foreign entity.
In general terms, any business entity not incorporated in your home state is considered a “foreign entity." A Series LLC in California is a "foreign entity" in Texas. For the purposes of this article, however, we're talking about an actual overseas business entity—not a business based in another state.
Previously established out-of-state businesses have typically already registered for an EIN from the IRS, so that California SLLC won't need a new EIN to transact business in Texas.
Quick and easy answer: review the information below, fill out the SS-4, and then call the international EIN helpline for the IRS at 267-941-1099 (which is not toll free).
To get an EIN as a foreign entity, you need to fill out Form SS-4, aptly titled, “Application for Employer Identification Number.” (The IRS’s internet EIN application is their “preferred method” for applying for most entities looking for an EIN, so if you stumbled upon this page and you’re not a foreign entity, start there). With that said, however, for international applicants, the IRS recommends calling the following non-toll-free number: 267-941-1099.
To do so, you’ll need the following information, at a minimum:
If you’re filling out the form online, make sure to follow the instructions very carefully to make sure the process is as smooth as possible.
You’re only eligible to apply for an EIN online if you meet certain criteria:
If you don’t meet those criteria, call the number at 267-941-1099.
Why might you want to apply for an EIN even if you’re, let’s say, a sole proprietorship?
There are a few reasons, and we touched on some of them in the intro, but we’d like to go over them for good measure here—as well as add some more:
An EIN allows you to file business taxes and avoid tax penalties.
There are certain tax breaks that are only available for businesses. Take, for example, the PPP loans as part of the pandemic. Many of them were even forgiven, so they were essentially grants for certain businesses.
An EIN can protect your Social Security Number.
Occasionally you might have to fill out forms for your business. If you have an EIN, you no longer have to use your more sensitive personal information to fill out those forms.
An EIN opens up a variety of business accounting options.
With a foreign EIN, business loans and business savings accounts are options for you to consider.
An EIN speeds up pretty much everything related to running a business.
With an EIN, you can more easily do everything you need to run a business, and if you’re a foreign entrepreneur, it lends you that much more credibility to US businesses and workers.
A foreign entity EIN can have benefits, as we've seen. In order to get an Employer Identification Number for a Foreign Entity, you should look over Form SS-4 from the IRS, prepare all of the information you’ll need, and then call 267-941-1099. If you fill out the application online, your business needs to be located in the US or any US territories.
Scott Royal Smith is an asset protection attorney and long-time real estate investor. He's on a mission to help fellow investors free their time, protect their assets, and create lasting wealth.
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