One of several steps most businesses will need when starting a business in Alabama is registering for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) and state business tax ID number. These numbers are most commonly used to register a business with the federal and state government in order to pay sales taxes, payroll taxes, and withhold taxes from employee wages.
Let’s review in more detail what these numbers are used for when they are required, costs, and how to get them.
Also See: Guide to Starting a Business in Alabama
What is the Employer Identification Number (EIN)?
The EIN is short for Employer Identification Number and is sometimes referred to as the FEIN or Federal Employer Identification Number. This is a unique 9 digit number that is similar to a social security number for an individual but instead identifies a business.
The EIN is primarily needed to hire employees, as the EIN is used as the account for paying payroll taxes, income tax withholdings, and unemployment taxes.
Some other uses of the EIN include:
- Opening a bank account – Banks need an EIN (or SSN if the EIN isn’t needed) before opening a business bank account.
- Applying for business licenses & permits – Most Alabama business licenses and permits will require the EIN (or SSN in some cases) before applying.
- Filing tax returns – To file state and federal tax returns, the EIN identifies the business.
Who needs an Alabama EIN?
The EIN is needed for Alabama businesses that are either:
- Registered as a partnership, corporation, or multi-member LLC, or;
- A sole proprietorship or single-member LLC that has employees
The EIN is optional for sole proprietorships and single-member LLCs without employees as those business entities will use the owner’s social security number.
How to apply for an EIN
The easiest and fastest way to apply for an EIN is to visit the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website, between the hours of 7 am – 10 pm EST, Monday – Friday.
It takes about 5 minutes to file the EIN online a number will be ready in seconds. If applying online isn’t an option, you can also apply by mail or fax by sending the SS-4 form. You can even get an EIN over the phone if the company was formed outside the U.S. by calling 267-941-1099. If filing by phone, note that it isn’t a toll-free number.
There is no cost to apply for an EIN.
See how to register for an EIN in this video:
What Information Do I Need to Get an Employer Identification Number?
Applying for an EIN is pretty straightforward, but you will need to obtain some information beforehand, such as:
- Legal name of the business
- Business address
- Name(s) of the principal officer, manager, or owner
- Name(s) and contact information of the owners, directors, officers, or members
- Type of business and what activities the business performs
- Date the business was started or acquired
- Closing month of the entity’s accounting year
- Number of employees expected to be hired
- Contact information
Is an EIN the same as a tax ID number?
In addition to registering the EIN, many businesses will also need to get an Alabama tax number in order to pay for a variety of state business taxes.
Business tax numbers in Alabama are often confused with the EIN. The EIN is a separate number that is used to federally register a business with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and may be needed in addition to the state tax number. A business may need to apply for one or both numbers.
The most common reasons a business in Alabama will need to register for a business tax ID number include:
- Sales Tax – Businesses selling products and certain services are required to collect sales taxes and will need to register with the Alabama Department of Revenue. Learn more about registering for an Alabama sales tax number.
- Employees – Businesses with employees will need to register with the Alabama Department of Labor to pay for payroll taxes. Learn more about registering as an employer in Alabama.
How much does it cost to get an EIN in Alabama?
There is no cost for an EIN when you apply directly through the Internal Revenue Service.
Should I get an EIN or LLC first?
Be sure to register your LLC or Corporation before registering for an EIN. You should wait until the name of the entity is confirmed with the Alabama Secretary of State before registering the EIN.