The High-touch Legal Services® Blog…for Startups!

© 2009-2021 Dana H. Shultz

* EINs for Foreign Clients *

Internal Revenue Service logo, for post about how Dana Shultz obtains EINs for foreign clients

Although Dana Shultz has retired as a lawyer, he still obtains EINs for international clients because such activity does not constitute the practice of law.

This page about EINs for foreign clients is an Advertisement under Rule of Professional Conduct 1-400, Standard 5 (now subject to Chapter 7 of the Rules of Professional Conduct that took effect on November 1, 2018).

During the past decade or so, I have received many inquiries from foreign owners of new companies in the U.S. They want to know how much it will cost to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service. (more…)

How to Form an LLC

Logo for Quora, where Dana Shultz answered a question about how to form an LLCI am writing this post about how to form an LLC (limited liability company) because of a question that I answered on Quora. Please see What are the basic requirements for forming of a LLC in US?

The following is an overview of the steps required to form an LLC properly in the U.S.: (more…)

Do We Need One EIN or Two?

Internal Revenue Service logo, for post about whether a business needs one EIN or twoThis post is the result of an email exchange that I had with a foreign entrepreneur. He raised a question that I had not previously considered: When should a business have one EIN (Employer Identification Number), and when should it have two? (more…)

What Are My Entity’s Compliance Obligations?

Frequently, the first service I provide to a client is to form a new legal entity (corporation or limited liability company). And frequently, once that entity is formed, the client’s first question is “What are my entity’s compliance obligations?”

This post provides a high-level answer to that question.

(If you form a corporation in California, you can find additional information in the Postincorporation Matters document on the Downloads page – image above.) (more…)

How Much Does It Cost to Obtain an EIN?

Internal Revenue Service logo, symbolizing the cost to obtain an EINThis post about the cost to obtain an EIN (Employer Identification Number) in the United States is an Advertisement under Rule of Professional Conduct 1-400, Standard 5 (now subject to Chapter 7 of the Rules of Professional Conduct that took effect on November 1, 2018).

Recently I have received many inquiries from foreign owners of new companies in the U.S. They want to know how much it will cost to obtain an EIN from the Internal Revenue Service. This post provides that information. (more…)

How Can I Find a Lost EIN?

Internal Revenue Service logo, symbolizing a lost EINAn Employer Identification Number, issued by the Internal Revenue Service, is the most important identifying number for US businesses, especially for tax purposes. This post addresses how you can find a lost EIN.

Find the Lost EIN Yourself

The IRS Lost or Misplaced Your EIN? page starts by recommending searches for existing records that should include the lost EIN:

  • The IRS confirmation notice that was provided when the EIN was issued.
  • Bank accounts that were opened, or governmental licenses that were issued, based on the EIN.
  • Tax return that were filed.
(more…)

You Don’t Need an ITIN to Bring Your Company to the US

Logo of the Internal Revenue Service, which issues the ITINI recently have received several inquiries about whether a foreign company or its owners need an ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) when they bring their business to the US. The answer is, “No.” The rest of this post explains why that is the case.

When a company wants to do business in the US, it needs an EIN (Employer Identification Number).

For a foreign or foreign-owned company, obtaining an EIN can be intimidating. This is especially true if the principal officer lacks a US social security number. (The EIN cannot be obtained quickly and easily online.)

(more…)

Fees

Antique cash register, symbolizing payment of fees

Dana Shultz recently retired from the practice of law. As a lawyer, Dana dispensed as much business advice as legal advice. Accordingly, although he no longer is practicing law, Dana occasionally provides business consulting services to owners of small businesses.

If you need legal representation, Dana provides referrals to experienced business lawyers.

The remainder of this page is being retained online for archival purposes.


This page about fees for the services that Dana Shultz provides is an Advertisement under Rule of Professional Conduct 1-400, Standard 5 (now subject to Chapter 7 of the Rules of Professional Conduct that took effect on November 1, 2018).

Fixed fees typically apply to entity formation-related services. Please see:

(more…)

Help – I Lost My SSN!

Seal of the Social Security Administration, which gives out each social security number ( SSN )

One of my foreign clients received a social security number as a child when he and his parents lived in the US for a year. Unfortunately, he could not find his SSN – which would help him obtain an Employer Identification Number for the corporation I was forming. (See Foreign Company Alert: Obtaining an EIN may be your Biggest Challenge in the U.S.)

He asked whether I could help him retrieve his SSN. Here is what I found.

(more…)

What is a Branch Office?

Picture of tree branches in front of an office building, symbolizing a branch office

Generally, when a foreign client starts a new business in the U.S., we form a new corporation for both business and legal reasons. Recently, however, I had an interesting experience helping a foreign client set up a branch office without forming a new legal entity.

The client acknowledged the benefits of a new corporation. However, procedural issues for the client (located in Southeast Asia), would result in the necessary approvals taking too long. As a result, the client asked that I first provide help setting up a branch office in Silicon Valley. That branch office later would be used by a new California corporation that we would form.

(more…)

Can an Undocumented Immigrant Form a Corporation?

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Logo

This post is based on a question that I answered on OnStartups.com. The short answer is “Yes, an undocumented immigrant can form a corporation.” The rest of this post is adapted from the full answer that I provided.

You can form a corporation – no problem. I have helped dozens of foreign clients (non-citizens, no social security number) go through that process.

(more…)

How Much Does It Cost to Incorporate?

Picture of antique cash register - representative of the post's topic, the cost to incorporate a business

This post about the cost to incorporate in the U.S. is an Advertisement under Rule of Professional Conduct 1-400, Standard 5 (now subject to Chapter 7 of the Rules of Professional Conduct that took effect on November 1, 2018).

Recently I have seen a huge increase in the number of inquiries from prospective clients – especially foreign companies – interested in forming a corporation. One of their first questions usually is, “How much does it cost to incorporate?” This post answers that question.

First, though, I need to make a couple of points:

  • The following is merely illustrative. While the services described below suffice for many clients, we can know whether they are right for you only after we discuss your specific requirements in detail.
  • The only way we can agree that I will provide incorporation services is via an engagement letter signed by both of us. (The engagement process is discussed below).

(more…)

Am I in Trouble if My Accountant Used His SSN to Get My Corporation’s EIN?

Internal Revenue Service logo

Late last year (see Foreign Company Alert: Obtaining an EIN may be your Biggest Challenge in the U.S.), I wrote about the procedure by which a U.S. entity may obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) when its foreign owner lacks a social security number (SSN). I recently answered an Avvo question about what to do when the specified procedure is not followed.

The questioner’s accountant had used his (the accountant’s) SSN to obtain an EIN online for his client’s corporation because the client’s foreign owner had no SSN. The client suspected – correctly – that this was not the right thing to do (the Internal Revenue Service “does not authorize” this action).

(more…)

Legal Services

Statue of Justice representing legal services

Dana Shultz recently retired from the practice of law. As a lawyer, Dana dispensed as much business advice as legal advice. Accordingly, although he no longer is practicing law, Dana occasionally provides business consulting services to owners of small businesses.

If you need legal representation, Dana provides referrals to experienced business lawyers.

The remainder of this page is being retained online for archival purposes.


This description of Dana Shultz’s legal services is an Advertisement under Rule of Professional Conduct 1-400, Standard 5 (now subject to Chapter 7 of the Rules of Professional Conduct that took effect on November 1, 2018).

Brief summary:  I help clients to

  • form their businesses,
  • do their deals, and
  • keep out of trouble.

Dana Shultz provides the essential legal services that startup and early-stage companies in the San Francisco (California) Bay Area typically need. You may read many Client Testimonials about Dana’s services. (more…)

Every Partnership Needs an EIN

I recently met two individuals who formed a business partnership. They were pretty informal about the process: They had no written partnership agreement. More surprisingly, they had not obtained an employer identification number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service.

Failure to obtain an EIN was a legal mistake. The IRS’s Do You Need an EIN? page states that when a business is operated as a partnership, it must obtain an EIN. (more…)

Foreign Company Alert: Obtaining an EIN may be your Biggest Challenge in the U.S.

Logo of the Internal Revenue Service, which issues EIN (Employer Identification Number)Although Dana Shultz has retired as a lawyer, he still obtains EINs for international clients because such activity does not constitute the practice of law.

When a foreign company wants to start up in the U.S., it usually creates a separate corporation here so U.S. obligations and liabilities will not flow back to the overseas parent. The U.S. corporation needs a federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) – at the very least, to open a bank account, even if the corporation will have no employees in the U.S. In a recent post on its website (Responsible Parties and Nominees), the Internal Revenue Service recently made it more difficult for foreign companies to obtain an EIN.

To obtain an EIN, the corporation typically provides the social security number (SSN) of a “principal officer”. In the past, the IRS was rather vague as to what this term meant, stating that it referred to a “president, vice president, or other principal officer”. So, for example, if the corporation’s overseas president did not have an SSN because s/he never worked in the U.S., the corporation could temporarily appoint as vice president an individual who has an SSN, which the corporation then would use to apply for an EIN.

(more…)

Ten Tips for Success in the U.S.

Having helped more than a dozen foreign companies set up operations here during the past few years, I am pleased to offer “Ten Tips for Success in the U.S.” on the Downloads page – just Sign Up for Free Downloads using the drop-down list in the sidebar.

Here are the titles of the ten tips, which are discussed in greater detail in the document:

  1. Work with complementary businesses that are already established here
  2. Manage overseas personnel on the principle “trust but verify”
  3. Form your corporation or limited liability company properly
  4. Be ready for a legal system that is different from the one back home
  5. Identify and protect intellectual property (IP) that is used here
  6. Develop detailed employee and independent contractor agreements
  7. Choose an accountant with international tax experience
  8. Be prepared to obtain a federal employer identification number
  9. Conduct due diligence on potential investors
  10. Agree on business terms before you prepare a written agreement

This blog does not provide legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney directly.