The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website is great–I ordered all sorts of goodies for new businesses when I started up. (That was before there were so many things available immediately on their website–like pdf versions of booklets and video lessons I had to order on CD.)
|Small Business and Self-Employed One-Stop Resource
Publications from the IRS
Taxpayer Identification Number
You may not need an Employer Identification Number (EIN) if you won’t have employees, incorporate or be a partnership–you might be able to just use your Social Security Number (SSN) when paying income tax for your sole proprietorship. Check this page to see if you are required to get one:
We got a federal EIN to use during registration for our state sales tax ID. While we didn’t need to get an EIN by the IRS’ standards, we signed up for one with the IRS right away because many wholesale companies won’t let you purchase materials at wholesale without a sales tax ID number. That means you won’t pay sales tax on the supplies you buy and that you’ll have the opportunity to (or requirement of) purchasing supplies in bulk for a discount.
When you get your state sales tax id, often you can give them your SSN as an ID number instead of the EIN, and some states will then use your SSN as your sales tax ID number (some states make you get an EIN before they let you get a state sales tax ID).
I prefer to protect my personal information, so I got the EIN give to the state during registration for our Authority to Collect Sales Tax to be sure my SSN didn’t end up on the license that we must display publicly at craft shows and need to give to wholesalers for a discount/not pay sales tax.
In NY, if you register to collect sales tax your EIN will also be the number for your registration with the state’s sales tax department, giving you the authority to collect sales tax on the state’s behalf. (You must register with the state before you are permitted to collect sales tax even if you already have an EIN.)
Getting an EIN is free, it doesn’t require any special paperwork once you’ve registered, and registering online is easy as pie:
State Links from the IRS