Churches are tax-exempt, and if they qualify for 50(c)(3) status, they don’t have to file an annual income tax return as many non-profits do. If you run a church, you don’t have to worry about paying income tax or filing a tax return for the church. But you still need a tax ID. To help you out, this guide explains how to apply for an EIN for a church.
What Tax ID Does a Church Need?
The tax identification number used by churches is called an Employer Identification Number. Abbreviated as EIN, this is a unique nine-digit number that represents your church to the government and other entities. Businesses, non-profits, trusts, and estates also use this type of tax ID number.
How Does a Church Use an EIN?
Churches use EINs in a variety of different situations where they need to be easily and clearly identified. To give you just a few examples, churches use EINs on employee tax forms, banking documents, and applications for tax-exempt status. Your EIN helps to ensure that you don’t get confused with other churches.
To give you an example, imagine that your church is called the Church of Christ or the Church of the Holy Apostles. Those are both very common names for churches. If you open a bank account and you only write the name of your church on the deposit slip, the banker may credit your deposit to a church with a similar name.
In contrast, if you write down your nine-digit EIN, the bank knows that the deposit is for your specific church because no one else has the same ID number as you. This same principle applies in any situation where you use an EIN.
Do Churches Need EINs If They Don’t Have Employees?
Although the word “employee” is in EIN, this is not the only use of these numbers. Whether or not you hire employees, you will need to obtain an EIN for your church. In fact, you need the EIN when you apply for tax-exempt status. You cannot complete the tax-exempt application until you get your EIN. In fact, the second question on the form is about your EIN.
Where Can Churches Get EINs?
To get an EIN for your church, you can apply through the mail or online. You can handle the process on your own or hire a business formation company or a tax professional to help you. Churches based in foreign countries may be able to apply over the phone.
What Is the Fastest Way to Get an EIN for a Church?
Generally, the fastest way to get an EIN for your church is to apply online. When you apply for an EIN online, you can complete the application at a time that is convenient for you. You don’t have to drive anywhere, meet someone in an office, or stand in line at the post office.
In most cases, your church will receive the EIN the same day that you apply. However, in some cases, the process may take a business day or two. Note that delays are very rare if you have all of the information. In contrast, applying through the mail can take weeks to process.
What Information Do You Need to Get a Church EIN?
To obtain an EIN for your church, you need to provide identifying details about your church. This includes its name, address, and the date it was formed. You also need to name a responsible person.
Then, you need to note why you’re applying for an EIN. If applicable, you can tick started a new business, and then, just write “church” as the type of business. Or you may want to pick opening a bank account or hiring an employee if those were the events that triggered you to apply for this number.
Who Is the Responsible Person for a Church?
When you apply for an EIN for a church, the responsible person must be an individual. Even if a corporation or a partnership started the church or helps to run it, those entities can not be the responsible party. This must be a person, and you will also need to include their phone number and tax ID number (for instance, Social Security Number).
What Employee Details Do You Need When Applying for an EIN?
Because this number is so tied to employees, you will need to provide some information about your employees when you apply. This includes the number of people employed by your church. You also need to note if your church expects to owe more than $1,000 in payroll tax during the year. Usually, you’ll only owe more than this number if you plan to pay out more than $4,000 in wages.
It may sound odd to talk about taxes in relation to a church, but it’s important to note that churches are only exempt from income tax. If they have employees, they still need to pay payroll tax. To be compliant as an employer, you will need to obtain this number before you hire anyone.
However, you can hire an independent contractor without having an EIN. The only exception is if you hire a contractor who cannot prove they have the right to work in the United States. Then, you will need to get an EIN so you can withhold from their wages.
What to Expect When You Apply for an EIN for a Church
Before you apply for an EIN for your church, decide why you need the number. Then, gather basic details about your church and decide who is going to be the responsible party. Keep in mind that you can only apply for one EIN per day. So if you run multiple organizations, you will need to stagger your applications.
Once you apply, you can just sit back and wait for the number. As explained above, the wait is usually very short when you apply for a church EIN online. When you get your number, you can start using it right away.