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 can apply for an EIN on-line, by mail, or by fax. You may also apply by telephone if your organization was formed outside the U.S. or U.S. territories. 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.