The Internal Revenue Service says getting a tax ID number for a business is going to be a little tougher after May 13. After that date, the IRS will require the taxpayer listed as the “responsible party” on the EIN application to have a Social Security number (SSN) or an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) in order to receive an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS.
The new requirement was first unveiled in March. The IRS made this latest announcement as part of its National Small Business Week observance. The new measure will provide greater security to the EIN process by requiring an individual to be the responsible party and will also improve transparency.
An EIN is a nine-digit tax identification number assigned to sole proprietors, corporations, partnerships, estates, trusts, employee retirement plans and other entities for tax-filing and reporting purposes.
The change prohibits entities from using their own EINs to obtain additional EINs. The new requirement applies to both the paper Form SS-4, Application for Employer Identification Number, and online EIN applications. The new procedure is meant to be another block to identity thieves, who increasingly target businesses.
A Need for Better Data Security
Individual taxpayers aren’t the only ones who need to protect their identities. Businesses and other organizations - especially trusts, estates and partnerships - can also be victims of identity theft. For example, criminals may file Forms 1120 (corporations), 1120S (S corporations) or Schedules K-1 in their names. Last year, 2,450 businesses reported that they were victims of tax-related identity theft, a 10-percent increase over 2017.
Education offers one avenue to avoid identity theft. Share Publication 4524, Taxes. Security. Together: Security Awareness for Taxpayers, or create your own messages urging employees, clients or customers to protect their data and beware of phishing emails, the most common tactic used by criminals to steal data.
Businesses should also educate their payroll and human resources employees about a dangerous phishing scam. The Form W-2 scam tricks payroll and human resources employees into sharing employee wage and income information by posing as a company executive. See Form W-2/SSN Data Theft: Information for Businesses and Payroll Service Providers.