I was advised yesterday by an MSC that once I reached $600 I could no longer work for them without getting an EIN from the IRS. Apparently this is their new policy. I have added the text from the email I received. Can someone please tell me what the difference is between and EIN and my SSN and why I should get an EIN?

You have now made at least $450 or more in agent payments, which accounts for only project payments and PAD (not reimbursable fees). We’d like to remind you of the EIN requirement for all Independent Field Agents who approach $600 in non-reimbursable fees with our company during one calendar year. If you do not have an approved EIN and signed W-9 on file by the time you have earned $525 (or have assigned projects that will push you over the $600 mark), you will be locked out of the website and will not be eligible to receive payments from us until an EIN and signed W-9 form are obtained. You can find information about this requirement in the Resource Guide and FAQs section of your agent website. If you have any questions about this requirement, please contact Support or reply to this email.

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An EIN is an Employer Identification Number and in the greater scheme of things it is irrelevant nonsense for an MSC to require it UNLESS they are also allowing you to subcontract work--which they do not do.

There is no cost to getting an EIN and it is easily obtained on line. It does not complicate the Schedule C reporting of your mystery shopping business. BUT . . .

In my jurisdiction an EIN is flagged by local government as a business that needs a business license, to meet all required business inspections etc. etc. This also means that in areas which are zoned 'residential only' there may be some issues. In other areas, none of this is an issue. Check with your local government.

My personal choice was to ditch any MSC that insisted on an EIN.
Thank you for the info. I have pretty much decided to leave it alone. I prefer to do as little with the IRS as possible.
You still need to claim any fees you make from mystery shopping as income. If you do so as a Schedule C business you become eligible to deduct against that income things such as mileage on your personal vehicle done for shops, supplies and equipment for mystery shopping, etc.
@Cindy... I got that same notification before. Last year, I went ahead and got the EIN, but I wish I didn't. I don't use it for anything, and I have a feeling in the back of my head that I might have invited a bunch of visits and inquires from entities I don't want to have anything to do with. By the way, you can continue to shop with that company until they block you, and you will be blocked after you reached that $525 benchmark. Looking over my shoulder........

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/19/2020 09:52PM by 1forum1.
Thanks, I have decided that that is the only way they will work with me then I wish them luck finding someone to drive 90 miles for a grocery store. I usually got the calls when it was due ASAP and they paid me enough to go.
I too have been tagged by the EIN number but when I asked about it I was told that it is a state requirement and I told them that the Constitution of the US says that they have no jurisdiction outside of their state borders. I live in another state and should not be held responsible for what the Government of the land o fruits and nuts want. And that is also blocking me from earning an income and that is just wrong.
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