Last updated May 30, 2020

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Should I get an EIN Before I Form an LLC (or After)?

Note: EIN stands for Employer Identification Number. It’s also called Federal Tax ID Number or FEIN. However, we’ll just refer to it as EIN throughout this lesson. Also, if you’re still learning about LLCs, please also read your LLC’s EIN.

It’s best to get an EIN for your LLC after your LLC is approved by the state. The reason for this is that you want to make sure your LLC name is approved before “attaching” an EIN to it.

Also, in the IRS’s EIN online application, you’ll need to enter your LLC’s date of formation, so naturally, this information would be confirmed after your LLC is formed.

However, you can also get an EIN for your LLC before your LLC is approved, but we do not recommend doing this.

We get lots of questions from people who obtained their EIN first, are in the process of forming their LLC, and are scratching their heads, wondering, “Did I screw this up?

Here’s what’s interesting:

The IRS doesn’t check to see if your LLC is in existence before issuing your EIN.

So if you’ve already obtained an EIN (but haven’t formed an LLC yet), let’s look at 2 scenarios to determine whether or not you need to cancel your existing EIN.

Scenario 1: EIN obtained before LLC approved & LLC gets approved

Let’s say the IRS issues an EIN for the company “Rob’s Grub Shack LLC” (before the LLC actually exists).

Then a week later, you file an LLC called “Rob’s Grub Shack LLC” and it’s approved by the state.

There is nothing you need to do. You can leave things as-is with the IRS since the names match up and there were no issues with your LLC filing.

Scenario 2: EIN obtained before LLC approved & LLC gets rejected

Let’s say the IRS issues an EIN for the company “Super Cycles LLC” (before the LLC actually exists).

Then a week later, you file an LLC called “Super Cycles LLC” and it gets rejected by the state.

Note: Depending on the state where you’re forming an LLC, “Super Cycles LLC” could be rejected for a few reasons. For example, most common is that a “Super Cycles LLC” or “Super Cycles Inc.” already exists. Second most common would be that the name is deceptively similar to an existing business name. For example, if “Super Cycle LLC” already exists, most states will reject your filing. For more tips on choosing an LLC name, please see how to choose your LLC name.

If your LLC was rejected because of its name, you’ll need to re-file using a different LLC name.

That means you now have an EIN “attached” to the wrong LLC.

Tip: Most states will issue a refund if your filing is rejected, but some will not. Make sure to properly search your LLC name before filing your LLC. And if you need to get a refund for a rejected filing, call your Secretary of State’s office for instructions.

Here’s what you’ll need to do

1. Cancel the first EIN
2. Re-file your LLC (fix the issues)
3. Wait for the LLC to be approved
4. Apply for a new EIN (how to get an EIN for LLC)

You don’t need to wait for your Confirmation Letter

If you’re going to cancel an EIN, the IRS will send you a Confirmation Letter once they’ve done so.

You don’t have to wait for the Confirmation Letter to arrive before applying for your LLC’s new EIN.

Matt Horwitz
Founder & Educator, LLC University®
Forming an LLC shouldn't be so complicated. Our step-by-step guide will make the process a breeze – and no complex legal jargon! LLC University® teaches people how to form an LLC for free in all 50 states. We hope you find our free guides and resources helpful in your business journey.
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