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An HR Glossary for HR Terms

Glossary of Human Resources Management and Employee Benefit Terms

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TIN Number

What Is a TIN Number?

A TIN number (Tax Identification Number) is a general term to describe any identification number that is used by the IRS in the administration of tax laws. A TIN is required when filing tax returns, when claiming treaty benefits, or for other tax-related documents such as statements, returns, and withholding certificates.

TIN numbers that are used by the IRS include:

  • Social Security Number (SSN)

  • Employer Identification Number (EIN)

  • Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)

  • Taxpayer Identification Number for Pending U.S. Adoptions (ATIN)

  • Preparer Taxpayer Identification Number (PTIN)

How Can I Get a TIN Number?

The steps for obtaining a TIN number depends on the type:

  • SSN: Apply for a Social Security card by filling out Form SS-5 and submitting evidence of your identity, age, and U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status.

  • EIN: Also known as a federal tax identification number, an EIN must be applied for with different forms depending on if it’s for business entities, estates, or trusts. If you are a foreign entity such as a foreign corporation, an EIN is required in order to claim a withholding tax treaty exemption. Do this by submitting Form SS-4.

  • ITIN: This is only available for certain nonresident and resident aliens, their spouses, and dependents who cannot qualify for a Social Security Number. Form W-7 must be completed, and documentation of substantiating foreign/alien status and true identity must be submitted to the IRS or an authorized Acceptance Agent (college, financial institution, etc.)

  • ATIN: This is a temporary number issued by the IRS to individuals who are in the process of legal adoption. File Form W-7A for children who are a U.S. citizen or resident.

  • PTIN: A paid tax preparer must use a valid PTIN on all returns that are prepared. Apply online through the IRS.

How Can I Find My TIN Number?

To find out your TIN number, check your records. An EIN may be listed on a W-2, invoice, receipt, or letterhead. Another place to look for an EIN is on a company website on the “About” or “Legal Information” page. Alternatively, you can call either your bank or your accountant/payroll administrator and ask for it. Other ways to find an EIN is to use an online search for a directory of active EINS, contact the IRS directly, or hire a private investigator to find it.

If you’re looking for an employee’s Social Security Number, request that they show you their card or ask your payroll administrator.

Is a TIN Number the Same as an EIN (Employer Identification Number)?

An employer identification number is a type of tax identification number (TIN). An EIN is used by employers to open a business bank account, apply for a business loan, for business licenses and permits, and for reporting and paying federal payroll taxes.

Your business needs an EIN if you:

  • Have employees

  • Operate your business as a corporation or partnership

  • File employment, excise, or alcohol, tobacco and firearms tax returns

  • Withhold taxes on income (other than wages) paid to a resident alien

  • Have a Keogh plan

You also need an EIN if you are involved with:

  • Tax returns for trusts, IRAs, or Exempt Organization Business Income

  • Estates

  • Real estate mortgage investments

  • Non-profit organizations

  • Farmers’ cooperatives

  • Plan administration

There are times when you will be required to get a new EIN, such as when changing your business entity for when filing for bankruptcy.

Is a TIN Number the Same as an SSN (Social Security Number)?

A social security number is a type of tax identification number (TIN). It is the most commonly used TIN by individuals and by employers who are reporting the annual income of employees to the IRS for their income tax returns.

A social security number is used by an employer to verify an employee’s identity. The reasons to verify are as follows:

  • To successfully process accurate annual wage report submissions

  • To allow Social Security to give the proper credit to an employee’s earnings record for future Social Security benefits