You are probably very cautious about letting people find out your social security number, and rightfully so. You are wise never to write down your SSN except on tax forms and when opening a bank account. An Employer ID Number (EIN), however, is not such a private matter. The EIN is the federal tax ID number of a business, nonprofit organization, estate, or trust.
The Difference Between a Social Security Number and an Employer ID Number
It is hard to get an SSN. You can only get one by being born, naturalized, or granted permanent residency in the United States. One person can only have one SSN. You can get an EIN, however, through websites like IRS-EIN-Tax-ID. One person can apply for many EINs for many different businesses. Likewise, it is easy to search for a corporation, partnership, or LLC Tax ID number online. Meanwhile, trying to find out people’s social security numbers online is a crime.
Sometimes Businesses Make Their EINs Public
Sometimes businesses print their EINs on pieces of correspondence, such as on an invoice. If you want to find the EIN of a contracting company that repaired your roof, you might be able to find their EIN on their invoice. Nonprofit organizations often print their EIN on their letterhead. They do this so that donors can write off charitable contributions to the organization on their taxes. Some businesses even list their EIN on their website.
You can call a business and ask for their EIN. The employee might ask you why you want to know the EIN, but they will tell it to you. If the company has gone out of business, you can still get the EIN from the former owner. The hardest part might be finding the former owner’s new contact information.