Any church that has employees, files employment tax returns, or has a bank or brokerage account must have an "employer identification number" (EIN). This includes nearly every church. An EIN is obtained by filing a Form SS-4 with the IRS using irs.gov or by submitting a paper form. Since 2010, line 7 of Form SS-4 has asked for the name and Social Security number of a "responsible party" of the applicant. The instructions to the form define this term as follows:
A "responsible party" is the person who has a level of control over, or entitlement to, the funds or assets in the entity that, as a practical matter, enables the individual, directly or indirectly, to control, manage, or direct the entity and the disposition of its funds and assets.
The IRS amended Form SS-4 to obtain the name of a responsible party in order to facilitate communication with employer representatives regarding tax reporting and compliance issues.
By 2013, the IRS had become increasingly frustrated by its inability to communicate with responsible parties identified in employers' SS-4 forms. This usually occurred because the responsible party designated in an employer's Form SS-4 no longer served in that capacity due to death, relocation, or resignation. As a result, the IRS adopted an entirely new requirement: Any employer with an EIN must report changes in the identity of its responsible party to the IRS using Form 8822-B. The IRS first announced this new requirement on November 18, 2013, through its Employee Plans News newsletter: