What is 'Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN)'

The taxpayer identification number (TIN) is a 9-digit number assigned to tax-paying businesses and other entities for identification, reporting, and record-keeping purposes. The TIN helps the IRS keep track of these entities and manage their tax accounts. Corporations, partnerships, estates, trusts, as well as sole proprietors and other individuals, must use these numbers when filing tax returns and other tax-related documents.

For sole proprietors, the TIN is their Social Security number or an employer identification number (EIN). For corporations, partnerships, trusts, and estates, this number is an EIN.

This number is also known as the 95-number or tax-ID number.

BREAKING DOWN 'Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN)'

The tax identification number (TIN) are nine-digit numbers, formatted like Social Security numbers. A TIN may be granted from either the Social Security Administration (SSA) or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The IRS uses the TIN to track individuals and business. The tax identification number (TIN) is an umbrella term and refers to any of the five primary types of identification numbers. 

Types of TINs include 

The Social Security Administration issues Social Security numbers to U.S. citizens, as well as qualified lawful aliens. The IRS issues other types of taxpayer identification numbers as well. Certain resident and nonresident aliens who are unable to obtain Social Security numbers may file form W-7 with the IRS to get an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN). The IRS authorizes acceptance agents, such as colleges, financial institutions, and accounting firms, to assist applicants in obtaining ITINs.

Uses of TINs

The IRS requires the use of taxpayer identification numbers on many tax-related documents. These documents include tax returns, statements, and reports. Banks and other businesses use TIN numbers when interacting with an entity.

The tax identification number must appear on all materials submitted to the IRS to claim tax benefits, exclusions, or to pay taxes. For example, taxpayers filing annual tax returns must furnish a TIN on their return, and employers reporting wages paid to employees must furnish these employees' TINs.

The IRS sometimes issues an adoption taxpayer identification number (ATIN) to a child who is being adopted in the United States if the child cannot obtain a Social Security number before the adopting individuals must file a tax return. These numbers are temporary.

The IRS requires paid tax preparers to include their preparer individual taxpayer identification number (PTIN) on tax returns or claims for refunds that they prepare substantially or in full. Tax preparers may apply for these numbers by mail or online. Special rules apply to foreign tax preparers who are unable to obtain Social Security numbers.

Employer Identification Number

Employer identification numbers (EINs) are also known as federal employer identification numbers. The IRS requires businesses, including corporations and partnerships, as well as some trusts and estates, to use EINs. 

Sole proprietors may use an EIN or their Social Security number. A sole proprietor who employs at least one individual, other than themselves, must obtain an EIN. In addition, the IRS requires entities to use an EIN under special circumstances, such as if they have a Keogh plan, file returns related to alcohol, tobacco, or firearms' or if they are involved with certain types of organizations.

Obtaining an EIN is free and can be done online. The IRS advises that responsible parties ensure a business is legally formed before obtaining an EIN. Typically, a new EIN must be obtained if the business ownership or structure changes. The document assigning the EIN must be kept by the business or individual to whom it is assigned.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Tax Identification Number - TIN

    A tax identification number is a number used by the IRS as a ...
  2. W-9 Form

    An IRS form, also known as "Request for Taxpayer Identification ...
  3. IRS Publication 908

    A document published by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that ...
  4. Specific Share Identification

    A method of choosing the exact shares to be sold in order to ...
  5. Specific Use

    Specific use is a type of authorization for an individual with ...
  6. Individual Tax Return

    An individual tax return is a tax form filed with a tax agency ...
Related Articles
  1. Retirement

    Employers: Don't Forget IRS Form 941

    Your obligations as an employer include various employment taxes. Use this form to report them.
  2. Taxes

    Filling out the W-9 form

    Freelancers and independent contractors have to fill out a W-9 for their employers and clients. Here's what to do and how to fill out the form.
  3. Retirement

    Is there a way to opt out of Social Security?

    Understand more about the purpose of the Social Security system and learn which groups of taxpayers are automatically exempt from the tax.
  4. Taxes

    What's IRS Form 1040 For?

    Most U.S. taxpayers will be familiar with the 1040. By the end of filling it out, you'll know how much tax you owe, or what your refund is.
  5. Taxes

    Your Tax Preparer Messed Up – Now What?

    Even professional tax preparers can make mistakes. What to do if it happens on your tax return.
  6. Financial Advisor

    Your Social Security Benefits: Who Gets Taxed?

    Many folks will pay some taxes on their Social Security benefits, but some will not. Here's the lowdown on who gets taxed by how much.
  7. Taxes

    Form 9465: Don't Pay Your Back Taxes Without It

    This form can lighten your tax load if you owe Uncle Sam. And you can often apply online.
  8. Taxes

    Changes In Tax Legislation And Regulation

    Keeping on top of these amendments can help you avoid penalties and take advantage of benefits.
  9. Retirement

    Will the Social Security Cap Increase Help It Last Longer?

    The Social Security cap increase will be 7% in 2017, but even that may not be enough to keep Social Security from running out of funds.
RELATED FAQS
  1. What to bring to a bank to open a checking account

    Want to open a new checking account? Learn which documents to bring to make the process as efficient as you can. Read Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Discount Rate

    Discount rate is the interest rate charged to commercial banks and other depository institutions for loans received from ...
  2. Economies of Scale

    Economies of scale refer to reduced costs per unit that arise from increased total output of a product. For example, a larger ...
  3. Quick Ratio

    The quick ratio measures a company’s ability to meet its short-term obligations with its most liquid assets.
  4. Leverage

    Leverage results from using borrowed capital as a source of funding when investing to expand the firm's asset base and generate ...
  5. Financial Risk

    Financial risk is the possibility that shareholders will lose money when investing in a company if its cash flow fails to ...
  6. Enterprise Value (EV)

    Enterprise Value (EV) is a measure of a company's total value, often used as a more comprehensive alternative to equity market ...
Trading Center