Every time I get a new client, I’m asked to send a signed W9 form to their accounting department. Rather than list my Social Security Number (SSN) on these forms, I list an Employment Identification Number (EIN) – also known as a Tax Identification Number (TIN).

Years ago, an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) worker recommended I list an EIN instead of a SSN on the W9 forms and invoices I send my clients to reduce my risk of identity theft. Good advice! Getting an EIN also made it possible for me to open a business account with my bank so clients could make checks out to Good Copy Fast.

Every once in a while, upon noticing that I’ve listed an EIN rather than a SSN on my W9 form, a client requests my SSN. When I ask why, they tell me that they believe sole proprietors can’t use EINs.

While well meaning, these individuals are misinformed. Sole proprietors may, indeed, use EINs on their W9 forms instead of SSNs. For further explanation, check out this article by NOLO: “Does a Sole Proprietor Need an Employment Identification Number?