The Employer Identification Number and Federal Tax ID Number, or EIN, as it's called, is the subject of some confusion for churches. Every organization must have an EIN, even if it will not have employees. This includes churches. The EIN is a unique 9-digit number that identifies the organization to the Internal Revenue Service.
To apply for an employer identification number, you should obtain Form SS-4 and its Instructions. You can apply for an EIN on-line, by mail, or by fax. The online application is simple and easy.
Make sure that you select church or church-controlled organization or other nonprofit organization as the type of entity. For more information about EIN application procedures, see Question 4 of FAQs regarding Applying for Tax Exemption.
• Note: Don’t apply for an EIN until your organization is legally formed.
• Nearly all organizations are subject to automatic revocation of their tax-exempt status if they fail to file a required return or notice for three consecutive years.
• When you apply for an EIN, the presumption is that the church is legally formed and the clock starts running on this three-year filing period.
Even if you are a pastor with no employees, and are conducting church services from your home, you may still want to have an EIN for privacy. You can give out your EIN rather than your social security number, thus protecting you from identity theft. You will also need an EIN to open a bank account in the church name.
The publication IRS 1828, Tax Guide for Churches & Religious Organizations 501(c)(3) is an excellent reference for all church tax matters.
Churches may also find The Church Law and Tax Guide helpful as a reference for all legal and tax issues your church may encounter. It is well worth the cost of subscription.
The UBA Financial Office Is available to assist UBA member congregations with information and best practices. Contact Ron or Dana In the UBA Financial Office at 713.957.2000 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com