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This for an LLC formed in Oregon. If I cannot apply for an EIN being a single member LLC, would I have to use my Social Security Number to represent tax on the LLC, and subsequently assume all business liability?

  • You should be able to apply for an EIN being a single-member LLC. I'm a single member LLC and I also have an EIN. – Ron Beyer Jan 20 at 1:30
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Yes, you can apply for an EIN, but you don't need one for tax purposes. No, the limited-liability aspect of an LLC does not vanish if you use SSN on your Schedule-C.

It's important to understand that LLC doesn't really mean anything to the IRS. An LLC is taxed as either a sole proprietorship, partnership, C-corporation, or S-corporation based on number of members and how those members elect to be treated for tax purposes. In your case, the reason you don't need an EIN is because the business is just you and isn't taxed as a separate entity, to the IRS you're a sole proprietor whether you had the LLC or not.

The LLC's only real tax benefit is that it gives you flexibility to elect to have your business taxed as a corporation rather than a sole proprietorship (for many, there's no benefit to making that election).

Edit: Answered in the context of taxes, so clarified that you don't need an EIN for tax purposes, they can be useful in some other scenarios.

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    An EIN is useful though for other purposes, it is basically a SSN for your business. For the full benefit of an LLC (the "limited liability" part) you need to maintain an "arms length" between your business and your personal. Having an EIN means you can provide it to banks and creditors instead of your personal SSN. – Ron Beyer Jan 19 at 23:23
  • "Can pay taxes without an EIN" is not the same as "Don't need one". There are a variety of other reasons an EIN may be required, for example to set up a solo 401(k). – Ben Voigt Jan 19 at 23:44
  • @RonBeyer I agree that an EIN can be useful, but you don't lose LLC protections without one. In my experience, sole proprietors still have to provide SSN to open a business account even with an EIN. I always found that to be perplexing and annoying. – Hart CO Jan 20 at 0:09
  • Providing your personal SSN is just to link a real person to the bank account, especially if you want access to all the money in the account. Either way having the EIN isn't required as you say, but having one has benefits aside from taxes (as you clarified in your answer). – Ron Beyer Jan 20 at 1:30

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