SSN vs. EIN vs. ITIN - What's the Difference?
First, let's start by defining these acronyms:
- SSN - Social Security Number
- EIN - Employer Identification Number
- ITIN - Individual Taxpayer Identification Number
We have now defined these acronyms but it still may not be obvious how these numbers differ and how they relate to each other.
The most widely recognized number is SSN. Social Security Numbers are issued at birth to all Americans. Originally SSNs were used to track all wages earned throughout a person's life. Over time, SSNs have been used for all sorts of purposes from tracking people's tax returns to opening bank accounts.
What is an EIN?
An Employer Identification Number is like a Social Security Number for businesses. EINs are 9-digit numbers just like SSNs; However, EINs are issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) while SSNs are issued by the Social Security Administration.
EINs are used by the IRS to track businesses that need to submit certain business tax returns. Just like SSNs, EINs are used for more purposes than just their original intended purpose. It turns out to be very convenient to have a single unique number to identify all businesses in the United States. EINs are needed for businesses to open bank accounts, apply for loans, rent offices, and a number of other common business purposes.
Click here to Apply for an EIN.
What is an ITIN?
ITIN stands for Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. That sounds very similar to a Social Security Number. So what's the difference?
ITINs, like EINs, are issued by the IRS, not the SSA. ITINs follow the same format as SSNs (###-##-####). To avoid confusion, the Social Security Administration has reserved a block of Social Security Numbers that are not used as ITINs instead of SSNs.
The ITINs begin with a 9 and have a 7 or 8 in the 4th position (9##-7#-#### or 9##-8#-####). View all ITIN numbers.
ITINs are issued to people who need an SSN for tax purposes but does not qualify for a Social Security Number. U.S. citizens and legal immigrants can be given a Social Security Numbers. However even some people who do not qualify for an SSN may still have tax liabilities to the U.S. government. In this case, the individual may be issued a ITIN for purposes of paying taxes.