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Employer Identification Number

Every organization must have an employer identification number (EIN), even if it will not have employees.  The EIN is a unique number that identifies the organization to the Internal Revenue Service.

To apply for an employer identification number, you should obtain Form SS-4 and its Instructions. You may also apply for an EIN on-line, by telephone, or by fax.  Make sure that you select church or church-controlled organization or other nonprofit organization as the type of entity.  For more information about EIN application procedures, see Question 4 of FAQs regarding Applying for Tax Exemption.

The EIN is not your tax-exempt number.  That term generally refers to a number assigned by a state agency that identifies organizations as exempt from state sales and use taxes. You should contact your state revenue department for additional information about tax-exempt numbers.

Note: Don’t apply for an EIN until your organization is legally formed. Nearly all organizations are subject to automatic revocation of their tax-exempt status if they fail to file a required return or notice for three consecutive years. When you apply for an EIN, we presume you’re legally formed and the clock starts running on this three-year period.


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Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 08-Jul-2014