We are asked many questions about W-9s by business owners and entrepreneurs, so we thought a brief blog post on the topic might be helpful. However, as is the case for all other tax-related issues, questions, or concerns it’s always best to reach out to a tax professional for any in-depth discussions regarding the W9.
Form W-9 (Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification) is typically used to request tax information from freelancers, independent contractors and other self-employed people.
Anyone who does work for a company but is not a full-time employee of the company should fill out the W-9 federal income tax form. Freelancers and independent contractors may have to fill out many W-9 forms, depending on how many companies they work for over the course of a year.
Consultants are also required to fill out a W-9 for each company they consulted with throughout the year.
Here is the IRS guidance on using the W9:
Use Form W-9 to provide your correct Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) to the person who is required to file an information return with the IRS to report, for example:
- Income paid to you.
- Real estate transactions.
- Mortgage interest you paid.
- Acquisition or abandonment of secured property.
- Cancellation of debt.
- Contributions you made to an IRA.
Form W-9 can be downloaded for free from the IRS website.
Form W-4 is not the same as Form W-9. Whereas a W-9 is likely to be used by a contracted worker, a W-4 is sent by an employer to an employee to establish tax withholding preferences from the employee's salary. In other words, if you are hired as an employee -- not an external freelancer or consultant -- you should receive a W-4 and not a W-9.
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