EIN vs. ITIN vs. SSN: What Business Owners Need to Know

Most small enterprise house owners have an employer identification quantity and a Social Security quantity. This permits the IRS to determine and account for his or her enterprise entities. Obtaining these numbers additionally ensures people stay in compliance with tax legal guidelines. However some folks might have a person taxpayer identification quantity as a substitute. Which numbers you’ve got largely comes all the way down to your immigration standing.

Social Security numbers

A Social Security quantity, or SSN, is a nine-digit quantity issued to U.S. residents and everlasting residents. Over the course of 1’s lifetime, the U.S. authorities will use this quantity to trace your earnings and years employed. Once you’re able to retire, this quantity will likely be utilized by the U.S. authorities to find out the quantity of Social Security advantages you obtain.

SSNs defend an excessive amount of your private data. As such, they’re additionally inclined to potential id theft. It’s necessary to protect this quantity intently, or contemplate getting one other, much less delicate federal ID as an added precaution.

What can enterprise house owners use SSNs for?

Before you owned a small enterprise, your SSN performed a key position in getting employed for brand spanking new jobs and even acquiring a driver’s license. What can you employ a Social Security quantity for as a small enterprise proprietor?

  • Opening financial institution accounts: This is a requirement for each enterprise and private financial institution accounts at U.S. monetary establishments. You may use an employer identification quantity to open a enterprise checking account.

  • Federal mortgage purposes: Many entrepreneurs search federal loans for small-business funding. This quantity is used to run a credit score test and decide in case you are eligible for a federal mortgage.

  • Filing annual tax returns: You might use an SSN or an employer identification quantity when submitting your small business’s tax returns.

How to get an SSN

You might want to full Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card as a way to receive an SSN. Form SS-5 can also be accessible by calling 1-800-772-1213 or visiting your native Social Security workplace. To get an SSN, you need to submit proof of your id, age and U.S. citizenship or lawful alien standing. It is free to use for an SSN.

What else ought to enterprise house owners learn about SSNs?

U.S. residents sometimes don’t want to fret about acquiring an SSN since they’ve already been issued one by the SSA. What they do want to think about is taking motion to safeguard these numbers. It could also be of their finest curiosity to acquire an EIN subsequent.

Employer identification numbers

An employer identification quantity, or EIN, is a nine-digit quantity issued by the IRS to determine a enterprise entity. Once you’ve got utilized for an EIN, you might use this federal tax ID to legally determine your small business. You may proceed utilizing your SSN, too.

What can enterprise house owners use EINs for?

The makes use of for an EIN are quite a few for entrepreneurs. Here are just a few of the advantages of getting (and utilizing) one to determine your small business.

  • Opening a enterprise checking account: An EIN is required by most U.S. monetary establishments earlier than opening a enterprise checking account.

  • Forming an LLC and hiring staff: The IRS advises that LLCs file for an EIN. And if an LLC has employed intends to rent staff, they’re required to have an EIN. What occurs in the event you’re not planning to rent or have employed staff? Once the enterprise has been included, you’re technically thought of an worker. Therefore, you need to have an EIN in order that the IRS might monitor your small business and guarantee it stays in compliance.

  • If you determine to alter your group kind: For instance, if your small business entity is altering from a single-member LLC to a member-managed LLC, you would want to fill out Form 8832 Entity Classification Election. This permits the entity to retain its EIN although its federal tax classification has modified.

  • If you intend to determine enterprise credit score: Your enterprise credit score will likely be totally different out of your private credit score — it’s primarily based on your small business’s spending historical past and vendor relationships, amongst different elements.

  • Establishing pension, revenue sharing and retirement plans: If you determine to create these plans, you’re thought of to be a plan administrator and can want an EIN.

How to get an EIN

You can apply for an EIN on-line, by telephone, by fax and by mail via the IRS at no cost. All EIN purposes should disclose the title and taxpayer identification quantity (SSN or particular person taxpayer identification quantity) of the true principal officer, basic companion, grantor, proprietor or trustor.

To apply on-line, go to the IRS web site software web page. Once the appliance is accomplished, the data is validated throughout the on-line session and an EIN is issued instantly.

Applying by mail takes 4 weeks, whereas making use of by fax takes 4 days. You can apply by telephone by calling 267-941-1099 (notice, this isn’t a toll-free quantity) 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern time Monday via Friday.

Why ought to enterprise house owners receive an EIN?

Did you realize that upon getting an EIN, it by no means expires? That’s simply an added perk to acquiring this federal tax ID. Beyond the dearth of expiration date, an EIN can also be important to safeguarding your SSN. You might use it in lieu of your SSN on numerous official paperwork pertaining to your small business.

That being mentioned, it’s necessary to guard your EIN simply as a lot as you’d an SSN. An EIN remains to be inclined to id theft, so watch out to not depart it written in plain sight the place somebody would possibly see it.

Individual taxpayer identification quantity

If you’re a person who’s required to file a U.S. tax return or current a federal tax ID however you don’t have an SSN and aren’t eligible for one, the IRS will difficulty a person taxpayer identification quantity, or ITIN.

What can enterprise house owners use ITINs for?

An ITIN solely has just a few functions, most of which focus on staying in compliance with U.S. tax legal guidelines. According to the IRS, the shortlist of issues one can’t do with an ITIN contains the next:

  • Having an ITIN doesn’t imply you’re licensed to work within the United States.

  • You won’t be eligible for Social Security advantages simply because you’ve got an ITIN.

How to get an ITIN

To receive an ITIN, you need to full IRS Form W-7, IRS Application for Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. W-7 requires documentation substantiating overseas/alien standing and true id for every particular person. You can mail your documentation to the handle proven within the Form W-7 directions, current it at IRS walk-in workplaces or course of your software via an acceptance agent licensed by the IRS. Acceptance brokers are entities (schools, monetary establishments, accounting corporations, and so forth.) which might be licensed by the IRS to help candidates in acquiring ITINs.

Why ought to enterprise house owners receive an ITIN?

The solely actual goal that an ITIN supplies entrepreneurs is federal tax reporting. These numbers don’t serve every other functions for enterprise house owners. This remains to be an necessary operate to make sure your U.S. tax returns have been filed, so if you realize you want an ITIN, it is suggested that you just apply for the quantity as shortly as attainable.

Key variations between an EIN vs. ITIN vs. SSN

Now that you realize what EINs, ITINs and SSNs are, let’s evaluate all three from a enterprise perspective to higher perceive how they will profit you.


Essentially, an SSN is for U.S. residents and licensed noncitizen residents — equivalent to inexperienced card holders and college students on visas. An ITIN, however, is for residents with overseas standing. This contains undocumented aliens and nonresident aliens that conduct enterprise within the United States. Foreign entities that function within the United States, together with firms, partnerships and LLCs, would additionally want an ITIN.


An EIN is like an SSN for your small business. For these merely working sole proprietorships, they will use their SSN with the IRS for tax functions and to open a enterprise checking account. If you type an LLC, wish to rent staff or want to set up enterprise credit score, although, you may have to receive an EIN.


The principal distinction between an EIN and an ITIN is that an EIN is used to determine a enterprise, whereas an ITIN is a federal tax ID for folk who should file a tax return however who will not be allowed to work within the United States. Individuals who do enterprise within the U.S. however are ineligible for SSNs want ITINs.

This article initially appeared on Fundera, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.

Deborah Sweeney contributed to this text.