Definition of 147c Letter

December 14, 2023
147c Letter

A 147c letter is a document from the IRS verifying a company’s EIN. It is sometimes called an “EIN confirmation letter.”

What is a 147c letter?

A 147c letter is intrinsically tied to the Employer Identification Number (EIN). So, to understand the 147c letter, it’s essential to know about EINs.

If you’re running a business in the United States, chances are you have an EIN. Much like a Social Security number for an individual, an EIN — sometimes called a Federal Tax Identification Number or TIN — is a unique numeric identifier that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issues to business entities to track their tax reporting.

If you have an EIN, you might eventually run into the 147c letter.

You can request a 147c letter from the IRS if you:

  • Misplaced your original EIN confirmation letter from the IRS
  • Never received an EIN confirmation letter in the first place
  • Have forgotten your EIN

To receive a 147c letter, you must already have an EIN since the purpose of the 147c letter is to confirm your existing EIN.

Note: If you do not have an EIN, you can request one from the IRS by completing Form SS-4, Application for Employer Identification Number.

Whether you’re a sole proprietor, a single-member LLC, or a full-blown business with employees, chances are you’ll want to have an EIN. Even if you’re a sole proprietor, you can get an EIN, so you don’t have to put your Social Security number on tax documents (privacy measures are essential these days!).

The importance of a 147c letter to small businesses

Oftentimes, a company needs the 147c letter because a third party has requested documented proof of that business’ EIN. For example, you may need to provide proof of your EIN when applying for a business bank account or credit card.

In general, it’s imperative to have documentation of your EIN. This way, you will have the number handy when filling out essential business documents, such as IRS tax forms. You can also quickly supply the EIN when third parties ask for it.

Therefore, you should immediately request an IRS 147c letter if you don’t have documentation of your EIN. This is true even if you don’t immediately need the confirmation letter.

Things to know about the 147c letter

To help you better understand the EIN confirmation letter, this section will explain:

  • What information is included in a 147c letter
  • How to obtain it
  • Who can request an EIN confirmation letter
  • What to do after you receive the letter

What information is included in a 147c letter?

A 147c letter generally includes the following verification details:

  • A business entity’s legal name
  • The business’ principal address
  • An assigned 9-digit EIN for the business entity
  • How to get additional forms, publication, or information from the IRS — such as by visiting the IRS website

How do I get a 147c letter?

Currently, the only way to request an EIN confirmation letter is to contact IRS support by phone. This is for security reasons. You cannot make the request by:

  • Mail
  • Email
  • Fax

To contact the IRS, call the agency’s Business and Specialty Tax line at 1-800-829-4933, which is generally available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time. Follow the prompts to speak with an IRS representative. (Long hold times are not uncommon!)

The IRS agent will ask you some security questions to confirm that you are authorized to receive the 147c letter.

The IRS can send you the letter via any of the following 2 methods:

  • Mail
  • Fax (physical or digital)

If you choose the fax method, the IRS agent will fax the 147c letter immediately over to you. But if you opt for mail, it could take 4-6 weeks for you to receive it.

Remember, there are a few other ways to find your company’s EIN without having to tangle with the federal government. If you used your EIN to open a bank account or apply for a state-level license, you should be able to get the EIN from the bank or the local state agency.

Further, previously filed tax returns should have your company’s EIN on them, as would some other IRS documents, so check those if you can.

That said, if you need documented verification of your EIN, requesting an IRS 147c letter is the way to go.

Who can request a 147c letter?

The request can only be made by the company’s authorized agents. This can be the business owner or someone they have granted Power of Attorney.

People who typically have the authority to access a company’s EIN number include:

  • Corporate officer
  • The executor of an estate
  • Outsourcing providers, such as payroll providers or Professional Employer Organizations (PEO)
  • Partner or member of a business partnership
  • Sole proprietor
  • The trustee overseeing a trust

In order to permit a third party to obtain a 147c letter on your behalf, you’ll have to submit a completed Form 8821 or Form 2848. You’ll also need to give the third party some basic information about your business, such as the year it started, your business address, etc. They’ll need this information to answer the security questions the IRS will ask them before giving them the 147c letter.

Once I get the letter, what do I need to do?

The first step is to file a copy of the replacement confirmation letter away in a safe place. This will save you the trouble of calling the IRS again to request another EIN confirmation letter. If you need the 147c letter to prove your EIN to a third party, forward it to them promptly.

The best thing about the 147c letter is that the only hassle is in getting it. You don’t need to do much once you’ve received one.

Other similar terms to the 147c letter that can assist you

  • Agent For Service of Process: Also known as a registered agent or agent of service, an agent for service of process refers to the individual designated by the company to be the individual who would receive any legal papers that may be “served” on the company. This is not only a function at the company’s main headquarters, where it is officially incorporated. It is also a function that must be designated where the business operates in each state.

Summary of 147c letter

If you happen to misplace, forget, or otherwise lose proof of your EIN (or tax ID), you can obtain a confirmation letter from the IRS. This IRS form is called a “147c letter,” and it provides verification of your EIN.

Ultimately, it is a way for the IRS to tell you (or an authorized third party) your existing EIN. The letter does not generate an EIN number for you — that’s an entirely different process! It simply verifies your existing EIN or federal taxpayer identification number.

You may need to request a 147c letter if a third party requires proof of your EIN, such as when applying for a business loan or proving you’re a legitimate business to be able to make wholesale purchases.

You can only get the letter by calling the IRS. The good news is that once you get an IRS agent on the phone, you can immediately obtain the letter if you choose to have it faxed to you. Otherwise, you will likely have to wait 4-6 weeks to get it in the mail.

Keep your 147c letter in a safe place, so you can reference it for business purposes as needed.

Similar glossary definitions you must know

  • Business Name Control Code: The IRS uses business name control codes to verify that the identifying information provided on tax returns and forms corresponds to the correct company. A business’ name control code is made up of alphanumeric characters (plus hyphens and ampersands). It is usually the first four characters of the business’ name.
  • Tax Notice: A tax notice, or tax assessment, is a document regarding your company’s account status, new filing frequency, or rate assignments. These are typically either informational in nature or require action you can easily resolve and are received via standard mail from the IRS or another tax agency.
  • Professional Employer Organization: This type of company:
    • Becomes a co-employer with your SMB
    • Is contracted to conduct specific HR services on your company’s behalf
    • Reduces an SMB’s potential employment tax liabilities
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