Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Note that the following information is general information on Employer Identification Numbers (EINs), as excerpted from the Internal Revenue Service website. RSOs should contact the federal Internal Revenue Service for information specific to their circumstances.

Why Get an EIN?

You will need an EIN # to open a bank (or other financial institution) account. An EIN number, also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number, is a nine-digit number assigned to your organization by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The United States Treasury Department and the IRS require an organization to disclose their EIN when opening any type of deposit account with a financial institution.

Note: If your student organization is maintaining the same banking account from previous years, continue to use the EIN number previously assigned to your organization by the IRS. In this event, your bank/financial institution should already have your EIN number associated with your account. Do NOT apply for a new EIN number each year. However, to maintain accurate information with the IRS, each year you must inform them of the name of the new primary contact person and any other information that has changed, such as the name of your organization or the address.

Every financial institution is required by the IRS to report dividends or interest paid to each depositor when it is in excess of $10.00 in any given tax year. The dividend or interest amount is reported using the account name and the taxpayer identification number, which in the case of a student organization is your organization's EIN. A social security number from one of your organization's members will NOT substitute for an EIN. If the IRS cannot match the identification number and name to their records, the IRS can penalize the financial institution for the incorrect reporting and the account holder for giving incorrect information to the financial institution. The penalty is normally $50.00 but can be higher under certain circumstances.

Applying for an Employer Identification Number

If you need to set up and use your bank account immediately, we recommend applying for an EIN by using the IRS Toll-Free Telephone Service method of applying. (Note once again that the following information on How to Apply is excerpted from the IRS website. For additional information refer to Publication 1635, Understanding Your EIN (PDF).)

Apply Online

The Internet EIN (I-EIN) application is the primary avenue for customers to apply for and obtain an employer identification number. Once all the necessary fields are completed on the online form, preliminary validation is performed and the taxpayer will be alerted to information IRS needs that may not have been included. An EIN will be issued after the successful submission of the completed Form SS-4 online.

Apply Toll-Free Telephone Service

You can obtain an EIN immediately by calling the Business & Specialty Tax Line (800-829-4933). The hours of operation are 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. local time, Monday through Friday. An assistor takes the information, assigns the EIN, and provides the number to an authorized individual over the telephone.

The person making the call must be authorized to sign the form or be an authorized designee. (In most cases, this person would be the primary student contact for your student organization.) If you are applying by telephone, it will be helpful to complete Form SS-4 before contacting the IRS. An IRS representative will use the information from the Form SS-4 to establish your account and assign you an EIN. Write the number you are given on the upper right corner of the form and sign and date it. Keep this copy for your records. If requested by an IRS representative, mail or fax the signed Form SS-4 within 24 hours to the IRS address provided by the IRS representative.

Apply by Fax

Taxpayers can FAX the completed Form SS-4 application to their state FAX number after ensuring that the Form SS-4 contains all of the required information. The FAX number for Wisconsin is 215/516-3990. If you provide a return fax number, a fax will be sent back with the EIN within four (4) business days.

Apply by Mail

The processing timeframe for an EIN application received by mail is four weeks. Ensure that the Form SS-4 contains all of the required information. The mailing address for sending your form is the Internal Revenue Service, Attn: EIN Operation, Philadelphia PA 19255.