If you have filled out a W-9 form and sent copies to multiple clients as an independent professional for payment, you might have noticed that there are two choices under Part 1, Taxpayer Identification Number: you either fill out your social security number or employer identification number.
I don't need to tell you the potential risks of widely distributing your SSN like pamphlets. (Nothing untoward has happened to me or any colleagues I know, but you can never be too safe!) And here's exactly where the benefit of getting an EIN comes in: it's just a number assigned to your business. You can announce it to the world, and your personal identity will still be safely guarded.
I had heard fellow language professionals mention getting an EIN for quite a while now. So why didn't I get mine until today? Because I had no idea how easy it is to get one--the whole process can be done online in less than 10 minutes. Here's what you do: go to this page and follow steps one through three. Hit "Apply Online Now" to begin. It's good to have your documentation handy since the session expires after 15 minutes of inactivity. When you are done, you will be able to generate a PDF notice regarding your EIN and use it immediately.
There is something I'm not so sure about, though. What about those clients who already have my SSN on file? Should I issue them a new W-9 form? Readers, do you have any suggestions?