IRS Issues New Version of Form SS-4

The IRS has issued a January 2010 version of Form SS-4, Application for Employer Identification Number. The form was last updated in January 2009. Lines 7a and 14 of the form have been revised.

Line 7 a. Applicants are now required to put the name of the "responsible party" on line 7 a. For entities with shares or interests traded on a public exchange, or shares that are registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission, a "responsible party" is the principal officer of a corporation, the general partner of a partnership, the owner of a disregarded entity, or the grantor, owner, or trustor of a trust.

For all other entities, a "responsible' party" is a person who has a level of control over, or entitlement to, the funds or assets in the entity that, as a practical matter, enables the individual, directly or indirectly, to control, manage, or direct the entity and the disposition of its funds and assets. The IRS notes that a person does not become a responsible party if he or she only has the ability to fund the entity, or only has entitlement to the property of the entity, unless the person also has the authority to control, manage, or direct the entity.

On the previous version of Form SS-4, applicants put the name of the principal officer, general partner, grantor, owner, or trustor on line 7a.

Line 14. This line was revised to take into account regulations that, effective beginning with the 2009 tax year, no longer require employers whose estimated annual employment tax liability is expected to be $1,000 or less to file Form 944, Employers Annual Federal Tax Return. These employers may now file Form 941, Employers Quarterly Federal Tax Return, instead.

General information. There is a table on page two of Form SS-4 to assist applicants in determining if they need to apply for an employer identification number (EIN), and the lines that they need to complete on the form if they are required to apply for an EIN. SS-4 applications may be submitted online (except for applicants located outside the U.S. or U.S. possessions), by telephone, by fax, or by mail.