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A Sole proprietorship with no employees can file under the owner's social security number. A Limited Liability Company with a single owner can do the same – all taxes are paid on an individual return.
A Federal EIN is required, however, when there are multiple members in the LLC. An EIN is also necessary if either a sole proprietorship or LLC is required to file excise tax. Other business structures need an EIN to separate their corporate taxes from personal taxes. The S Corporation, C Corporation, and non-profit all use the EIN. A partnership requires an EIN when filling out distribution forms for the IRS, even though no tax is paid by the partnership itself.
A new EIN number is required when a business is first started, or when certain circumstances change. If a business is purchased (turn-key) and it will be operated as a sole proprietorship, a new EIN is needed. This also applies if a corporation changes status, either to a sole proprietorship or partnership.
An LLC or sole proprietorship (without employees) will need an EIN if they become incorporated or take on employees. If a sole owner dies and the business is managed by their estate, the estate should apply for an EIN.
The legal business name, location and the name and address of a “responsible party” who can answer questions that might arise – this would usually be an officer or owner of the company. This person also provides his/her social security number on the application form.
Also required is a general statement about the type of business activity the company will be involved in as well as the business structure (LLC, Corp, non profit); the State (or foreign country) where the company is incorporated, and the reason for application; and an estimate of the number and type of employees expected.