Most businesses that operate in the US or generate income through the US need to apply for a federal employer identification number (EIN). This is your federal tax ID. Think of it as the business equivalent of your social security number. The internal revenue service sends your EIN via a confirmation letter — called a “CP 575” notice — through physical mail after you file Form SS-4. This letter serves as proof that you are a legitimate business and comes in handy when opening corporate bank accounts, applying for business loans, and more.
The only problem? The IRS sends the CP 575 letter only once, and you don’t get a copy if you misplace it. You probably remember your EIN by heart or have it written on a sticky note somewhere, but in some cases, that’s not enough. Banks, vendors, and any other entity you partner with may ask you for some form of official verification.
Luckily, there’s another option. Enter: the 147C letter. This IRS-issued document is accepted as an alternative to the CP 575 and will help you out if you ever lose your original EIN notice.
What is a 147C letter?
A 147C letter is an IRS-issued document that verifies an already-existing EIN, which is why it’s also called an “EIN verification letter.” This letter serves as a replacement for the CP 575 notice. You should request one if you ever misplace your CP 575. Here’s a sample 147C letter for the University of Iowa.
Why you need a 147C letter
It’s not good enough to be able to recall your company’s EIN by memory. You’ll need IRS-issued proof for business purposes, and if you’ve lost your CP 575, you have to use a 147C instead. Here are some reasons why you should request a copy from the IRS if that’s the case.
Banking and financing
You’ll need to provide EIN confirmation when opening a new business bank account and applying for corporate credit cards. You’ll also require one if you ever apply for a business loan or seek investment. That said, you don’t need to worry if you’ve lost your CP 575 — all banks and lenders in the US accept 147C letters as well.
Business banking or any sort of corporate financing activity in the US will require you to show official proof of your EIN to help prevent fraud. Banks and financial institutions use that proof to double-check the identity of your business since every business gets assigned one unique EIN.
Filing tax forms
You’ll need to provide your EIN when filing payroll and income tax forms with the IRS. A copy of your CP 575 is not a requirement — all you need is your EIN. The only scenario in which you may need to refer to your CP 575 notice is if:
- You’re unable to remember your EIN
- You’ve misplaced previous copies of your tax returns (as they have your EIN on them)
But if you’ve also misplaced your CP 575 on top of all of the above, then you most definitely need a letter 147C.
Applying for business licenses and permits
Certain businesses require federal or state-level licenses and permits to operate in the US legally. Some states will require you to obtain your EIN to apply. For instance, if you’re a vendor who wants to do business in the state of Arizona, you’ll need to apply for a “Transaction Privilege Tax” (TPT) license. And one of the key requirements to apply for a TPT license is to have an EIN.
License applications typically don’t require you to send copies of EIN confirmation letters. But a 147C letter will certainly come in handy in this case if you’ve lost your CP 575 and can’t recall your EIN.
Applying for Medicare enrollment
You can enroll in the Medicare program as an “institutional provider” if you operate a hospital, clinic, or any other healthcare facility. Enrollment will authorize you to provide healthcare services to all Medicare beneficiaries.
One of the key steps to becoming an institutional provider is to submit an enrollment application with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Every applicant is required to hand in their application with written confirmation of their EIN from the IRS. The CMS won’t process your application if you don’t provide a copy of your CP 575 or 147C letter.
Partnering with other businesses
You’ll often need your 147C letter when partnering with businesses or seeking the services of vendors.
Certain vendors (such as payroll providers) and merchants (like payment processing services) will ask for official proof of your EIN. For example, QuickBooks asks its clients to provide IRS-issued EIN verification letters to process direct deposits to their employees.
Similarly, if you ever decide to partner up with another business, they may ask you for this proof as a formality.
How to request a 147C letter
You can only request a 147C letter if you’re a legitimate owner of a business or have Power of Attorney (POA) over one, according to IRS guidelines. If you tick either of those boxes, follow these steps:
- Call +1-800-829-4933. This is the IRS Business & Specialty Tax line, open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. in the taxpayer’s local time (or Pacific time if you’re from Hawaii or Alaska), Monday through Friday.
- Select your preferred language (press 1 for English).
- Press 1 for “Employer Identification Numbers.”
- Next, press 3, which is the option for having an EIN but not being able to remember it. You’ll be connected with an IRS agent. This could take a while, depending on the day and time.
- Speak to the agent and explain that you’ll be needing an EIN verification letter since you lost your CP 575 notice.
- The agent will then ask a series of security questions to ensure that you are an authorized business owner or have POA.
Once you answer all of the security questions successfully, the IRS agent will ask you if you’d like to receive your 147C letter via physical mail or fax. Opt for the latter, as the agent will fax your 147C over immediately. You have no choice but to opt for physical mail if you don’t have a fax number or machine. This option will take from four to six weeks for you to receive your verification letter. Unfortunately, the IRS does not email 147C letters for security reasons.
Do foreign-owned businesses need EIN verification?
You can establish a business entity within the US territory even if you’re not a US citizen or resident. And like all US-based businesses that are partnerships, LLCs, and corporations, your foreign-owned business will also require an EIN to conduct regular business. That said, the EIN application process for a foreign-owned business is a bit different. Instead of applying online by filing IRS Form SS-4, international applicants need to apply through telephone, fax, or mail. The telephone option is only available from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. (Eastern time), Monday through Friday.
You’ll receive your EIN via a CP 575 notice within four weeks, depending on the option you’ve selected. You can then use your CP 575 for filing taxes, opening business bank accounts, and other business purposes. And you can always request a 147C letter from the IRS if you ever misplace your CP 575. The process is the same for non-US individuals with entities in the US.
You should request a 147C letter even if you remember your EIN or have old copies of bank and tax documents on hand. An official IRS statement that proves you are a tax-paying business is a must-have for certain situations discussed above. Request one now to prevent unnecessary delays in your business operations — such as opening a new bank account on an urgent basis — in the future. And once you do get your 147C letter, we recommend creating multiple physical and digital copies of it. However, there’s no cap on how many times you can request one from the IRS.
⚖️ Legal Disclaimer: The information contained in this site is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter.
Cover photo courtesy of Brett Garwood on Unsplash