What is a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN)?

A Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) is used as a way to identify and individual or company who needs to pay withholding taxes on employees.
A FEIN is also known as a 
Federal Tax Identification number
Tax Identification number (TIN)
Employer Identification number (EIN)
A FEIN is a nine digit number written in form XX-XXXXXXX that is unique to a particular employer and is assigned by the Internal Revenue Service for identification purposes.
The two digit prefix of a FEIN number indicates which campus assigned the FEIN number. Before 2001, the two digit prefix indicated the geographic area of the business. However, this is no longer applicable. 
FEINs are used by sole employers, corporations, government agencies, sole proprietors, partnerships, trusts, non-profit organizations, estates of decedents, certain individuals without employers, and other business entities. Each of these only requires one FEIN number
An employer needs a FEIN if an employer:
Has employees
Runs the business as a partnership or corporation
Files Excise, Employment, or Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms tax returns
Withholds taxes  other than wages on a non-resident alien employee
Has a Keogh plan
Is involved in trusts, estates, non-profit organizations, real estate mortgages investment conduits, plan administrators, or farmers’ cooperatives
If the employer does at least one of these things, a FEIN is required.
Applying for a FEIN

A FEIN can obtain by completing an application either online, through a toll-free telephone service, through fax or by mail with From SS-4. The internet application is the preferred method for FEIN application by customers. Once completed, the FEIN is issued immediately. However, an immediate FEIN number can also be received through by phone from 7AM to 10PM local time during the weekdays. Applying by fax takes up to four business days while a mail application takes up to one month.
In certain circumstances, a business may need a new FEIN. Generally this is due to some sort of structure change or just a change in ownership. Some changes that require FEIN changes include:

For Sole Proprietors
Being subject to a bankruptcy proceeding
Taking in partners and becoming a partnership
Purchasing or inheriting an existing business that will be operated as a sole proprietorship
For Corporations

Receiving a new charter from the secretary of state
Being or becoming a subsidiary of a corporation using a parent’s EIN
Changing to a sole proprietorship or partnership
Creating a new corporation after a statutory merger
For Partnerships
Partnership becoming a sole proprietorship
Ending an old partnership and beginning a new partnership

Avoiding Common FEIN Problems
Many of the common problems involving a FEIN are experienced by incorrectly filling out paperwork. In order to prevent this, remember to:
Always include a EIN, SSN, or ITIN on Form SS-4
Use a full legal name on Form SS-4 as well as the FEIN provided consistently 
Inform the IRS of business name changes
If the company uses a P.O. Box, use that instead of the physical address as the mailing address




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