Often times when applying for a business loan, beyond having to meet their lending criteria, you will also have to supply certain documents and forms. One such form is the Form SS-4 Notice—this shows a lender that the IRS has issued your company an EIN (employer identification number/). Making sure that you have all of your papers ready and organized, and especially making sure that you have that SS-4 notice and EIN on hand are integral when it comes to applying for a commercial loan.
Below we go through what you need to know as a small business owner regarding the SS-4 Form and also some information about EINs.
The SS-4 Form and Your EIN
You may have already filled out an SS-4 Form, but for those who haven't, it is the form required when applying for an EIN. The EIN may also be called your business tax ID number; it is a 9 digit number issued to you by the IRS.
Employer identification numbers are required as this is how the IRS identifies your small business. It's used for tax purposes and is generally issued to employers, corporations and sometimes sole proprietors. In order to get a business checking/savings account, have payroll and as earlier mentioned, apply for business financing, you absolutely have to have been issued an EIN.
When Going for a Business Loan…
After filling out the SS-4 Form, the IRS will send you what is known as the Form SS-4 Notice; this simply means that the IRS has given you an EIN. A lender will ask to see a copy of this notice whenever you apply for business funding.
Very much like a social security number, your EIN is unique to your business. It is a way to verify your company as a US-based business entity. When someone needs to verify your SSN, they generally ask to see your social security card. However, with an EIN no such card is issued; rather you get the Form SS-4 notice. This is why you will be asked to provide the lender with a copy of the said notice.
One might argue that you could just use the previous year's tax returns. With these though there is the potential for errors and/or other such incorrect info. It's much faster, more accurate and more efficient to simply provide the Form SS-4 Notice and keep things moving along smoothly in the application process.
As a sole proprietor, you may not have an EIN. Tax laws do not require this of sole proprietorships. When applying for a business loan, the loan will, therefore, be in your name and so the lender will not have to have an EIN. They will complete the application using your SSN.
Getting the Form SS-4
You can now apply for your EIN directly through the IRS website. It will ask for some details regarding your business so have those ready to go. Among the info you have to have for the Form SS-4:
- Company name and address
- Applicant's SSN and name
- Reason for the EIN
- What type of company structure you have: corporation, partnership, etc.
- Date your business began operations
- The sector of your business
- Principal activities of the company and the types of products/services you offer
You don't have to personally submit the form. The IRS does allow a responsible party to do so on your behalf as long as they have access to all relevant information. Such parties could include those who help run and/or manage the company. Business owners are busy, so this makes it more efficient for you if you don't have time to fill out the Form SS-4.
Remember, when applying for a business loan, the Form SS-4 Notice is critical to have on hand. Without it presented at the beginning, the entire process could get held up, thereby causing a significant delay in your funding. If you do plan to apply for a loan or credit, the IRS recommends filling out Form SS-4 at least four weeks prior to doing so. This way if there are errors or discrepancies they can be rectified in time.
What Happens If You Lose Your Form SS-4 Notice?
Not everyone is the best at keeping track of their important documents. Especially if you've been in business for a number of years, you might have misplaced the Form SS-4 Notice or simply can't locate it. When applying for an EIN, the IRS sends you a copy of the Form SS-4 Notice both in physical form and as a PDF. So you will at least have access to that.
If for some reason, you failed to save this PDF and are desperate to get a hold of a copy of this notice you can do the following:
An accountant working with your business probably has a copy of the notice as they would need it to do your tax returns. Contacting your business accountant might be a good place to start in order to track down this document.
Additionally, if you've opened a business bank account, you would have to have given the lender a copy of the notice. You may want to contact the bank with which you deal, explain the situation and see if they can make another copy of the Form SS-4 Notice for you.
If all else fails, you can contact the IRS directly and request a copy of the EIN assignment letter. Only those people authorized to speak on behalf of the business however can call and request this letter.
Preparing to Apply for Business Financing
The business loan application process doesn't have to belong and tedious. Having all documents in order and knowing where they are before you get started can make things a whole lot easier on you. Missing documents and the absence of the Form SS-4 Notice can certainly slow things up and even put a halt to the process—so be prepared!
At First Union, we're happy to guide you every step of the way through the entire loan application process. We always let you know exactly what information and documentation we need so that there are no surprises. Call today and let's get started together!