Obtain a Tax ID (EIN) Number and Register Your Business in California

Starting a business is one of the most exciting ventures you can pursue, but it isn’t easy. If you’re looking for a state with plenty of people and talent, there are few better choices than California. With more than 39 million residents, some of the most well-known startup hotbeds in the country (including Silicon Valley), and metropolitan areas like LA, San Diego, Sacramento, Oakland, and San Jose, the options for entrepreneurs are practically limitless. California isn’t just for multi-million-dollar tech juggernauts, either. In fact, there are more than 4 million small businesses in the state, representing a whopping 99.8 percent of all businesses. Nearly half the California workforce, more than 7 million people, work for small businesses, and thanks in part to the rich entrepreneurial community, economic growth in California is a relatively high 3.4 percent. The cost of living is higher in the major cities, but you can find reasonable housing and livable areas as well.

Apply Online by Choosing Your Entity Type

Steps to Obtain your Tax ID (EIN) Number in California:

  1. Forming a Business in California
  2. Federal Tax ID (EIN) Number Obtainment
  3. California State Tax ID Number
  4. How Do You Get a Tax ID Number in California?

1. Forming a Business in California

Step one is choosing your business type. These are some of your best options:

  • Sole proprietorships and partnerships. Sole proprietorships and partnerships are the simplest businesses to create, but the flip side is that they don’t offer much (if any) liability protection. You’ll be responsible for any debts or legal responsibilities on behalf of the business. You’ll also pay taxes as an individual on any money you make in the business- the only difference with partnerships is the number of people in the business.
  • Limited liability companies (LLCs). LLCs are a bit more complicated. These businesses are treated as separate entities from a legal perspective, so they require extra work to set up. In California, LLCs are subject to an $800 annual baseline tax, which may increase if you meet certain conditions, such as if your gross revenues exceed $250,000. The taxation rules in California are somewhat complex, so it’s best to consult with a tax professional before pursuing this option. The main advantage of Limited Liability Companies or LLCs is that they afford you liability protection.
  • Corporations. Corporations are the most complex business type, since they have the power to raise funds by issuing public shares in the company. They’re required to file annual reports, and like LLCs, are treated as distinct legal entities. Any eligible income made in corporations is subject to an 8.84 percent corporate tax rate, which is high compared to other states. One of the biggest advantages of corporations, other than the fact that they allow you to issue public shares, is their high degree of liability protection for owners.

Some companies benefit more from one business structure or another, but there’s no single “best” structure to choose in California. It’s also possible to change your business structure at some point in your business’s development, but it’s much easier to pick the “right” option from the outset.

2. Federal Tax ID (EIN) Number Obtainment

When you’re ready to make your business official, you’ll need to register it with the federal government, and get your hands on a federal tax ID number. Also known as an employer identification number (EIN), this number will serve as a unique signature for your business; it’s what you’ll use to keep track of your income and taxes. You’ll also need it if you plan to hire employees, open a business bank account, or build any kind of business credit.

The registration process can take a while, so if you’re in a hurry to start your business, the best path forward is to use a third party federal tax ID obtainment service. With just a few pieces of information about you and your business, you can get your federal tax ID in just a few hours.

3. California State Tax ID Number

If you plan on selling taxable goods and services in the state of California, or if you’ll owe excise taxes (which are associated with specific products, like alcohol or tobacco products), you’ll need a California state tax ID in addition to your federal tax ID. This number works similarly, and the process to get one is fairly similar, but you need both (and will use them in different applications) if you want to start a business.

4. Localized Licenses and Permits in California

California doesn’t make things easy on business owners trying to get the right licenses, permits, and professional certifications. It offers a searchable database of licenses and permits you may need at the state level, but it’s not always straightforward to find the information you need. You should also be aware that some cities and districts have their own rules for licenses and permits, so it’s important to contact your local Chamber of Commerce to see what other documents and certifications your business may be responsible for. If you have a solid idea, and a decent business plan in place, the last piece of the puzzle is creating your business officially and start generating revenue right away.

Common Questions About Forming A Business And Obtaining An EIN In California

What’s A California EIN And Who Needs One?

A California EIN number is a California State ID number. You will need this eight-digit number if your business sells taxable goods and services in the state of California, or if your business will owe excise taxes (applicable to specific products such as alcohol or tobacco). A California EIN is different from the federal tax ID number, which is governed by the IRS.

Are EINs Issued By The California Secretary of State?

No, they are not. When we say “EIN”, we are referring to the Federal EINs, which are issued by the IRS for federal tax returns. On the other hand, California State EINs are issued by the California Employment Development Department (CEDD) for tax purposes at the state level.

Are California Tax ID Numbers and Federal Tax ID Numbers the Same Thing?

The California Tax ID number is not the same as a Federal Tax ID Number. There are differences in form and function. The California State EIN is an eight-digit number (example: 000-0000-0) whereas the Federal EIN is a nine-digit number (example: 00-0000000).

They are issued by separate agencies in order to identify your business at the state and federal level. To operate your California business, you will need both a State EIN and a Federal EIN.

Where Can I Get An EIN In California?

You or your organization’s responsible party can get a California EIN number at the website of the California Employment Development Department. However, if you are looking to apply for an EIN, our service helps you obtain your EIN easily and fuss-free.

How Much Does It Cost To Get An EIN In California?

It will not cost any money to apply for a State EIN or a federal tax ID number in California unless you hire professional services to assist you in handling the legal paperwork and communicating with the IRS for a smoother application process.

How Long Does It Take To Receive An EIN In California?

This depends on the method you use to apply for your EIN. United States citizens with a social security number can access the online application for the EIN which takes approximately an hour to complete, whereas mail or fax applications can take up to two weeks.

Written by Maurice Mallory