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With tax season just around the corner, many are flocking to find their tax ID lookup. While you have probably heard of a Social Security Number (SSN) or Employer Identification Number (EIN) before, you may be hazier on what a tax ID number is. However, all of these numbers are more important than you might think. In fact, over 71 million Americans filed their taxes in 2020, meaning each individual accessed one of these tax ID numbers. If you filed your taxes last year for your business, you used a business tax ID or what’s often referred to as an EIN. Unfortunately, changing legislature and how you register your business can alter how you must do your taxes. Luckily, it’s never too late to learn about your tax status!
If you need to perform a tax ID lookup, this guide is here to make it quick and easy.
What is a TIN?
Before we launch into what a tax ID lookup is, it’s important that we get some of the terms down first.
TIN stands for “Taxpayer Identification Number.” This is a nine-digit number issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or Social Security Administration (SSA). It identifies an individual or business for tax purposes.
In actuality, TIN is an umbrella term. The acronym encompasses a variety of different tax identification numbers that fall under it.
Types of Tax ID Numbers
- Social Security Number (SSN): In addition to its use for government services and identification, this nine-digit number keeps track of your earnings over the course of your lifetime as well as how many years you have worked. This number is issued to US residents, permanent residents, and temporary residents.
- Employer Identification Number (EIN): Also known as a “Federal Tax Identification Number”, or a “Business Tax ID.” The IRS assigns this nine-digit number to businesses operating in the US. Additionally, EINs go to estates and trusts with income to report.
- Individual Taxpayer Number (ITIN): This number allows foreign nationals and those who may be ineligible for a social security number (including undocumented immigrants) to pay taxes. The applicants’ information does not affect their immigration status or involve immigration enforcement. The nine-digit number is for tax purposes only.
- Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number for Pending U.S. Adoptions (ATIN): This number is for children involved in domestic adoptions. It’s a temporary number given to the adopting parents/taxpayers when they don’t have the child’s social security number.
- Preparer Taxpayer Identification Number (PTIN): This number corresponds to those who prepare taxes such as your accountant. All paid tax preparers (both foreign or domestic who operate in the US) must obtain a PTIN. This number goes on all prepared tax forms and is an essential component of starting a tax preparation business if you work in this field.
As you can see, a tax ID number can cover quite a variety of taxpayer scenarios. Now that you know what a TIN is, let’s dive into how to find out if you have one and how to perform a tax ID lookup.
Was I Given a TIN?
If you were born in the United States or have a child who was born in the United States, your parent(s) most likely applied for a Social Security Number at the hospital. This often happens while filling out information for the birth certificate or soon after at a local social security office.
If you own a business in the United States or have recently acquired one, the original owner should have applied for a business tax ID.
No matter what scenario you fall under, a tax ID lookup is the best way to find out whether or not you, a business, adopted child, or other party have a TIN. You can do this in many ways, including by calling the IRS. We will discuss how to look up a TIN more later on.
TIN vs EIN
Many people use the terms EIN and TIN interchangeably, but an Employer Identification Number is a specific number assigned to a business by the IRS. A TIN, on the other hand, is a broad term and does not identify whether the tax ID is for a citizen, business, foreign national, etc.
It is important to be clear and use the type of identifying number that most accurately describes your entity. Are you familiar with the business structure you registered your business as? If not, review the possibilities:
- Sole Proprietorship
- C Corp
- S Corp
Properly filing your taxes is absolutely necessary for running a legitimate business. But what if you don’t know your tax ID number? It’s time to conduct a tax ID lookup.
How do I Perform a Tax ID Lookup?
If you’re not sure what your TIN is, don’t worry. The IRS requires you to include this on all tax documents. So, if you have a 1099 or W2 on hand, you should have the information you need. However, if you can’t find these documents, the IRS has resources you can access in case you lose your paperwork. Otherwise, consider these options to secure any of your TINs for a tax ID lookup.
Review Tax Paperwork
Whether for personal or business taxes, all tax paperwork must have a TIN attached to ensure all filings identify the right individual or business. If you own a business, all licenses, permits, bank accounts, loans, and relevant applications will include your business tax ID (EIN) as well.
Another great place to find your TIN is by looking up your business credit report. If you’re an accountant, it is a mandatory part of your business to use your PTIN as part of the tax preparation services you provide. You can use those documents for reference.
Contact the IRS Directly
The IRS is the ultimate resource for looking up a tax ID number. There is a business and specialty department reachable Monday-Friday from 7 am – 7 pm EST. Their number is 800-829-4933. Keep in mind, you will need to answer a few authorization questions for security purposes before you get your TIN. Additionally, the government website has a plethora of helpful content if you still have tax ID lookup questions.
Can I Perform a Tax ID Lookup on Another Person’s/Entities’ TIN?
A tax ID lookup for third parties is possible and very easy to perform. The Internal Revenue Service has two free online tools that allow you to look up a TIN. They are:
- Online Taxpayer Identification Number Matching Program. This allows you to see if the TIN and name you provide match according to the database.
- Social Security Number Verification Services. This service allows employers and third party users to verify the SSNs and names of employees in the database to the records available to ensure tax forms have the correct information.
Can I Cancel a TIN?
In terms of a business, an EIN cannot be canceled. Once the IRS assigns a business their business tax ID, it is non-transferable. What a business owner can do is close a business. To close a business, you must simply send a letter to the IRS stating your information and your reason for terminating the business. They will then follow up with your request and confirm when the closure has taken place.
A Social Security Number is also a unique number that stays with you forever. In this case, the IRS does not allow cancellation or transfers.