Form W-9 is a U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax form that collects and verifies taxpayer information from non-employee individuals receiving income.

Form W-9, also known as the Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification form, confirms an individual’s name, address, Social Security Number (SSN), or Employer Identification Numbers (EINs) for businesses.

What is Form W-9 used for?

The purpose of Form W-9 is to provide accurate information to entities that make payments to taxpayers and need to report income. Form W-9 helps companies issue specific tax statements to non-employees earning certain types of payments.

For example, the information from a W-9 form helps generate a 1099 tax form for income filing.

However, Form W-9 is not part of a tax return and is only an informational form used for reporting purposes.

Who needs to complete Form W-9?

Self-employed individuals, such as contractors and freelancers, performing work for another entity must fill out Form W-9. Typically, businesses or clients hiring contractors and reporting non-employee payments request a Form W-9 from each contractor.

Form W-9 requires the self-employed individual to provide personal information, including name, address, SSN, or TIN for businesses. By signing the form, the individual confirms that the information is correct and they are not subject to backup income withholding tax.

Certain entities are exempt from backup withholding. However, if the taxpayer fails to provide the correct information on Form W-9, the payer may withhold a percentage of the payment.

Providing false information on Form W-9 can also result in penalties, so ensure the information on Form W-9 is accurate to avoid issues with the IRS.

Consider working with a contractor compliance partner to help navigate contractor payments and changes in legal regulations to ensure tax compliance.

Where do I get Form W-9?

Form W-9 is available on the IRS website. Individuals can download, print, or fill out the form electronically. Businesses often provide a Form W-9 to the contractors they engage for work or services.

Where do I mail Form W-9?

Form W-9 is only an informational form used for tax reporting purposes and does not require mailing back to the IRS.

The business requiring Form W-9 will either provide one or request one from the self-employed individual. Once the individual fills out a Form W-9, the entity requesting the form will retain it for their records and use the information to complete necessary reporting to the IRS. The individual should keep a copy for their own records as well.

When is Form W-9 due?

There is no required due date to fill out or collect Form W-9. However, businesses typically request a completed Form W-9 from any non-employees before paying them so they have all the required information before filing taxes.

Form W-9 vs. Form 1099

Form W-9 and Form 1099 work together for tax reporting purposes, as the completed information on a Form W-9 helps an entity create different types of Form 1099s when paying non-employee compensation.

A business paying a contractor more than $600 per year must fill out a Form 1099-NEC per contractor and submit it to the IRS and the paid individual. Form 1099-NEC reports the contractor’s earnings to the IRS and lets the contractor file their taxes. Form W-9 provides the business with the necessary non-employee information to complete the 1099-NEC.

Additionally, a business must file Form 1099-MISC if they paid over $600 to an individual or entity for miscellaneous expenses such as rent, prizes, awards, or attorney payments. The Form W-9 verifies the recipient’s identity and collects their TIN.

Learn more: Forms 1099-NEC vs. 1099-MISC: What’s the Difference?

Form W-9 vs. Form W-4

While Form W-9 and Form W-4 are both tax forms that help gather similar taxpayer information, they have different recipients and purposes.

A business requests Form W-9 from a non-employee they have paid, such as a contractor, for both parties to file taxes. Form W-9 does not include any tax withholding. When the business reports the contractor payments at the end of the year, they use the information from the Form W-9 to create and issue Form 1099-NEC.

Conversely, an employer provides a Form W-4 to their employees to supply their taxpayer information and income tax withholding.

The information from Form W-4 determines how much federal income tax the employer will withhold from the employee’s paycheck and report to the IRS. Form W-4 captures the employee's filing status, multiple job adjustments, amount of credits, other income amounts, and deductions. 

Form W-9 vs. Form W-8 BEN

While Form W-9 provides information to entities making payments to non-employee taxpayers for reporting purposes, Form W-8BEN helps entities classify their international workers for tax reporting.

Form W-8BEN is a tax form that classifies a foreign worker’s status as a non-U.S. citizen and determines proper tax reporting, withholding rates, or tax exemptions for the entity providing them income. A U.S. employer must request a W-8BEN from any non-U.S. citizen employees or international contractors before paying them.

Foreign workers receiving U.S. income are subject to a 30% tax withholding rate; however, some income tax treaties protect individuals from being taxed by both the U.S. government and the government of their country of residence. Form W-8BEN ensures individuals do not face double taxation in multiple countries.

Disclaimer: The intent of this document is solely to provide general and preliminary information for private use. Do not rely on it as an alternative to legal, financial, taxation, or accountancy advice from an appropriately qualified professional. © 2024 Velocity Global, LLC. All rights reserved.

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