IRS to Enforce New EIN Requirements
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced a new requirement with a substantial impact on individuals applying for Employment Identification Numbers (EIN). The new requirement will be especially burdensome for foreign individuals.
An EIN is a tax identification number assigned by the IRS to sole proprietors, corporations, partnerships, estates, trusts, and other entities for tax filing returns and reporting purposes. For foreign-owned domestic entities, EINs are of particular importance for opening bank accounts in the United States.
Starting on May 13, 2019, all individuals listed as “Responsible Party” (RP) on an SS-4 (i.e., the form used to apply for EINs) will be required to provide the IRS either a Social Security number or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).
Previously, the IRS revised Form SS-4, instructing that only individuals, and not entities, will be allowed to be listed as the RP on Form SS-4. The new requirements will place a significant burden on international entities and individuals. Not only must the RP be an individual, but the RP must now have an SSN or ITIN. These requirements are to be enforced beginning on May 13th of this year, in a matter of days.
Before these new requirements, international individuals usually applied for EINs using Form SS-4 and noting “foreign” where asked for an SSN, ITIN or EIN. Now, international applicants who are not able to obtain an SSN will be required to apply for an ITIN before being able to apply for an EIN for any entity.
Foreign individuals can obtain an ITIN by filing Form W-7, but the process can be lengthy, requiring foreign individuals to submit original identification documents directly to the IRS or IRS approved certified copies of identification documents.
As with other tax filings, time can be of the essence and a careful analysis of each particular situation is advisable to determine any impact or delay due to circumstances where an RP does not have an ITIN or SSN. The new requirement will have a significant impact for individual and corporate international tax planning, including any tax filings and elections.