How to file Form SS-4 How to file Form SS-4

How to file Form SS-4

Starting a business can feel like venturing into an intricate maze with turns, stops, and overwhelming paperwork. Among the essential documents you’ll encounter in your US entrepreneurial journey is the notorious Form SS-4, your ticket to an Employer Identification Number (EIN). At first glance, it might seem intimidating, but with a touch of guidance and clarity, it’s much more straightforward.

What is Form SS-4?

Form SS-4, officially known as the Application for Employer Identification Number, is an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) form that businesses and entities use to request an Employer Identification Number (EIN). But wait – isn’t it just a set of numbers? Why the formality? Because it’s not just any number. An EIN is like a social security number for a business or entity, helping the IRS identify and track the tax obligations of various entities operating within the US.

Let’s dive a bit deeper. When a child is born, they’re assigned a unique identifier – the social security number. Similarly, when you start a business, it requires a unique identifier too. It ensures that your tax obligations are separate from your personal ones, making everything from hiring employees to opening a business bank account streamlined and efficient. Form SS-4 is the gateway to legitimizing and scaling your business.

Why do I need Form SS-4?

Form SS-4 is a crucial step in the US entrepreneurial journey because it grants you an Employer Identification Number (EIN), a unique identifier for your business. Beyond tax purposes, an EIN enables you to open a business bank account, hire employees, establish credit, apply for permits, and file tax documents. It segregates your business’s financial matters from personal ones, fostering streamlined operations and legal compliance.

What is EIN?

An EIN, or Employer Identification Number, is a nine-digit number the IRS assigns to businesses and entities in the U.S. for identification purposes. Like your personal Social Security number, an EIN is unique to each business entity.

Why is it essential? Here’s the kicker: It’s not just about paying taxes. With an EIN, you can:

  • Open a business bank account.
  • Hire employees.
  • Establish credit for your business.
  • Apply for business licenses and permits.
  • File business tax returns and other documents with the IRS.

In other words, an EIN is the bedrock on which many of your business’s financial and legal activities stand.

Instructions for Form SS-4

Completing Form SS-4 may seem like a maze at first glance, but with the proper guidance, it’s pretty manageable. Here’s your step-by-step guide.

  • Line 1: Start by providing the legal name of the entity or individual seeking the EIN. Typically, this will be the official name of your business.
  • Line 2: Have a trade name or DBA (Doing Business As)? If it’s different from the name you provided in Line 1, jot it down here.
  • Line 3: This one’s mainly for estates or trusts. You’ll need to specify the name of the executor trustee or use the “care of” field.
  • Line 4: Here, you’ll provide your business’s mailing address. This is where all official correspondence will be sent.
  • Lines 5-6: Your physical location, or where your business operates, must be detailed here. If it’s the same as your mailing address, great! If not, be sure to differentiate.
  • Line 7a: Specify the name of the responsible party. This individual must be an owner or someone who controls, manages, or directs the applicant entity and the disposition of its funds and assets.
  • Line 7b: Provide the Tax Identification Number (TIN) for the individual listed in Line 7a.
  • Line 8a: If your business is part of a wider group or entity, you need to detail the name and EIN of the parent organization.
  • Lines 9-10: Here, you’ll define the type of entity you are, be it a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, etc. This section helps the IRS determine your tax classification.
  • Line 11: Mention the date when you started (or will start) your business activities.
  • Line 12: This line requires you to project the closing month of your accounting year. For many businesses, this is December, but it might differ based on your operations.
  • Line 13: Estimate the number of employees you expect to hire in the next 12 months.
  • Lines 14-17: These lines delve into specifics about the type of business you run, including questions about gaming, gambling, and the sale of alcohol, among others. Answer truthfully based on your operations.
  • Line 18: If your business has ever applied for an EIN in the past, you need to specify here.
  • Line 19: This is a consent form for third-party designees. If you want someone else (like a tax professional) to discuss this application with the IRS, detail their information here.

Above all, when completing Form SS-4, remember to be accurate and thorough. Inaccuracies or omissions can cause delays, which no business owner wants to deal with. So, take a deep breath, gather your documents, and you’ll sail through this form in no time!

How long does it take to fill out Form SS-4?

The time it takes to fill out Form SS-4 varies based on the complexity of your entity and your familiarity with the form. Generally, if you have all the necessary information at hand, it can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. Preparation is key. Before completing the form, gather necessary documents, such as your business’s articles of incorporation, a partnership agreement if applicable, or any other relevant documentation. Remember, speed isn’t the goal—accuracy is.

How to file Form SS-4

Once filled out, Form SS-4 can be submitted to the IRS in multiple ways.

  • Fax: Send the completed form to the IRS, and typically, you’ll receive your EIN within four business days.
  • Mail: This is the traditional route, and it can take up to four weeks to get your EIN.
  • Phone: This is mainly for international applicants.

How to get a copy of Form SS-4

Lost your copy? No problem. Form SS-4 can easily be downloaded from the official IRS website. But you must contact the IRS directly if you’re looking for a previously submitted form. Typically, they can send a verification letter confirming the EIN but won’t provide a direct copy of the previously submitted form.

Set up your US company and get an EIN with Workhy

While navigating the business landscape can be challenging, you don’t have to go it alone. We can simplify the journey for you. Not only can we assist in company formation and EIN & ITIN applications (even if you’re a non-US resident), but our suite of services extends to bookkeeping, opening online bank accounts, and providing registered agents and addresses. Our purpose is to make your business operations smoother. You can visit our website for detailed information.

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