Revised Form SS-4 instructions provide needed clarity

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January 2018

Overview

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in December 2017 released a revised Form SS-4Application for Employer Identification Number (EIN), and accompanying instructions. The revisions provide much needed clarity to applicants with respect to completing certain entries on the form. The most noteworthy change is the new requirement that only an individual, and not an entity, may be listed as the ‘responsible party’ on Line 7a, and that an individual’s US Social Security number (SSN) or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) must be identified on Line 7b. The IRS also updated the definition of ‘responsible party’ to assist applicants in identifying which individual to list on Lines 7a–b. Other significant changes include instructions for disregarded entities completing Lines 9a, Type of Entity, and 10, Reason for Applying.

The revised Form SS-4 instructions make clear that the IRS is now requiring an individual, with limited exception, be listed as the responsible party when applying for an EIN. Applicants should take care to include the responsible party’s SSN or ITIN on Line 7b, even when the Form SS-4 is being filed to request an EIN solely for the purpose of filing Form 8832. Applicants should leave Line 7b blank only if the responsible party does not have, and is ineligible to obtain, an SSN or ITIN or as directed in the abbreviated instructions.

Finally, while the new rules are not a wholesale change in the EIN application process, they do represent substantive, but discrete, procedural changes. It will take the IRS, taxpayers, and tax practitioners time to appropriately understand and adapt to the revised EIN application rules.

The takeaway

The revised Form SS-4 instructions make clear that the IRS is now requiring an individual, with limited exception, be listed as the responsible party when applying for an EIN. Applicants should take care to include the responsible party’s SSN or ITIN on Line 7b, even when the Form SS-4 is being filed to request an EIN solely for the purpose of filing Form 8832. Applicants should leave Line 7b blank only if the responsible party does not have, and is ineligible to obtain, an SSN or ITIN or as directed in the abbreviated instructions.

Finally, while the new rules are not a wholesale change in the EIN application process, they do represent substantive, but discrete, procedural changes. It will take the IRS, taxpayers, and tax practitioners time to appropriately understand and adapt to the revised EIN application rules.

Contact us

Kevin Curran

Managing Director, Tax Controversy and Regulatory Services, PwC US

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