Is an EIN the Same As a Tax ID Number?

Learn about the differences between a TIN and an EIN



Is an EIN the same as a Tax ID Number? The short answer is no. To understand why, let’s start by discussing what a Tax ID Number is and then move on to some of the specifics around EINs.

Tax ID Number

A tax ID Number, also known as a Taxpayer Identification Number, is usually referred to by its abbreviation TIN. This number is used for identification purposes by the IRS as well as other institutions.

Now, a TIN is not one specific number. Rather, it is more of a grouping as there are several possible identifiers that can be called a TIN:

  • Employer Identification Number (EIN)
  • Preparer Taxpayer Identification Number (PTIN)
  • Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)
  • Taxpayer Identification Number for Pending U.S. Adoptions (ATIN)
  • Social Security Number (SSN)

If filing taxes, then it’s a pretty good bet that you’ll need a TIN in most cases. The TIN that is needed is going to vary on a case-by-case basis. Some example scenarios and their corresponding TINs are:

  • You’re a US citizen filing your tax returns as an individual. You’ll likely need an SSN.
  • You’re not a US citizen but are filing taxes in the US as an individual. You’ll likely need an ITIN.
  • You’re adopting a child and need to report the child on your taxes before you’re able to get an SSN for the child. An ATIN can be used here.
  • You’re a paid tax preparer. You’ll need a PTIN

If looking for more details on the TIN types, then see source [1]

As noted, a TIN can be used for identification purposes by other institutions outside of the IRS. For example, if you’ve ever applied for a loan, opened a bank account, or filled out medical forms, then it’s likely you’ve been required to provide your SSN.

What about businesses though? That’s where an EIN comes in, which we’ll discuss next.

EIN

An EIN or Employer Identification Number is the TIN you’ll want to use for tax purposes when filing taxes for a business entity. Though, it does go beyond businesses as estates and trusts with income that needs to be reported on form 1041, U.S. Income Tax Return for Estates and Trusts also require an EIN.

Similar to an SSN, an EIN can be required when applying for a loan, opening a bank account, applying for a credit card, and so on for the business.

An EIN is a nine-digit number that is formatted like XX-XXXXXXX and uniquely identifies the given entity (e.g., a business). For example, an EIN could look like 12-3456789.

An EIN can be applied for either by mail or online. If you’d like to apply online, then you may do so at the IRS’s website via the following link: IRS - Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) Online

There is one additional important note about filing for an EIN if your organization is to be tax exempt. You need to make sure your organization has been formed legally before apply for an EIN as there are special rules around EINS in this scenario. The link above to file for an EIN online goes over some of this information in more depth if interested.

Review

To summarize, the original question was, is an EIN the same as a Tax ID Number? As has been shown, an EIN is not the same as a TIN since there are multiple numbers that are considered as TINs. Rather, an EIN is one type of TIN. This is a similar to colors (e.g., green and blue are both classified as colors).

Sources

  1. IRS - Taxpayer Identification Numbers (TIN)
  2. IRS - Employer ID Numbers