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Misconception between TIN & EIN

TAXPAYER IDENTIFICATION NUMBERS (TIN)

A Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) is an identification number used by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the administration of tax laws. It is issued either by the Social Security Administration (SSA) or by the IRS. A Social Security number (SSN) is issued by the SSA whereas all other TINs are issued by the IRS.

Taxpayer Identification Numbers

•Social Security Number “SSN

•Employer Identification Number “EIN

•Individual Taxpayer Identification Number “ITIN

•Taxpayer Identification Number for Pending U.S. Adoptions “ATIN

• Preparer Taxpayer Identification Number “PTIN

Note: The temporary IRS Numbers previously assigned are no longer valid.

Do I Need One?

A TIN must be furnished on returns, statements, and other tax related documents. For example a number must be furnished:

When filing your tax returns – A change in IRC section 6109 regulations in 1996 mandates the use of a TIN on tax returns.

When claiming treaty benefits – There was a change in the IRC section 1441 regulations in 2001 which mandates the use of a TIN in order to claim tax treaty benefits. A TIN must be on a withholding certificate if the beneficial owner is claiming any of the following:

•Tax treaty benefits (other than for income from marketable securities)

•Exemption for effectively connected income

•Exemption for certain annuities

How Do I Get A TIN?

SSN

You will need to complete Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card (PDF). You also must submit evidence of your identity, age, and U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status. For more information please see the Social Security web site.

Form SS-5 is also available by calling 1-800-772-1213 or visiting your local Social Security office. These services are free.

EIN

An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is also known as a federal tax identification number, and is used to identify a business entity. It is also used by estates and trusts which have income which is required to be reported on Form 1041, U.S. Income Tax Return for Estates and Trusts (PDF). Refer to Employer ID Numbers for more information.

ITIN

An ITIN, or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, is a tax processing number only available for certain nonresident and resident aliens, their spouses, and dependents who cannot get a Social Security Number (SSN).

ATIN

An Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number (ATIN) is a temporary nine-digit number issued by the IRS to individuals who are in the process of legally adopting a U.S. citizen or resident child but who cannot get an SSN for that child in time to file their tax return.

PTIN

Beginning January 1, 2011, if you are a paid tax preparer you must use a valid Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) on returns you prepare. Use of the PTIN no longer is optional. If you do not have a PTIN, you must get one by using the new IRS sign-up system. Even if you have a PTIN but you received it prior to September 28, 2010, you must apply for a new or renewed PTIN by using the new system. If all your authentication information matches, you may be issued the same number. You must have a PTIN if you, for compensation, prepare all or substantially all of any federal tax return or claim for refund.

If you do not want to apply for a PTIN online, use Form W-12, IRS Paid Preparer Tax Identification Number Application (PDF). The paper application will take 4-6 weeks to process.

MISCONCEPTIONS:

The TIN is often called an EIN, leading to a misconception that a Social Security number (SSN) is a TIN. This misconception is false: Social Security numbers are a type of TIN; they are issued by the SSA to U.S. citizens and legal residents.

EXPERT INSIGHT:

In most cases, your SSN will suffice for tax returns. If you open a business and are a sole proprietor, you can still use your SSN as an identifier. However, if you have a partnership, corporation, or other business entity, you must apply for an EIN if you are required to file taxes.

Even an individual can apply for an EIN and get it immediately since EIN is now must if you file your Taxes online.

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