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

© 2009-2017 Dana H. Shultz, Attorney at Law

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…)

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.

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.
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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.

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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.

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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).

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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)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 (Use of Nominees in the EIN Application Process), 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.

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