What is a W-9 Form? (with photos)

A W-9 form, a type of completed tax form for self-employed and contract employees.

Form W-9 is a document issued by the United States Department of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and is used when a person or company needs to apply for a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN), exemption requests and specific certifications from a person, company, trust or estate in the United States. The form must be completed and returned to the requesting person or company who used the information for tax reporting purposes. A W-9 form is not filed with the IRS. One of the most common cases where this form is used is when a person has provided their services as an independent contractor or freelancer, and the person or company they worked for needs their TIN to report payments to the IRS.

Basic information

2012 1099-misc form.

This form, which is sometimes misspelled as Form W9, first asks for information such as the name and address of the person or entity. There is a section where a box must be checked to indicate what type of person or entity is completing the form, such as a trust or property, an individual, a company, a partnership or an exempt beneficiary. The specific classification for some types of companies should also be indicated.

Tax Identification Number

A social security number is required to complete the W-9 form.

The next section of the form serves its primary purpose as it is where the individual or legal entity must provide a Taxpayer Identification Number. For an individual, this is usually their Social Security number. However, if you are a resident foreigner, it is your Individual Identification Number (ITIN). For a company or other entity, the TIN is its Employer Identification Number (EIN). A single owner with an EIN can enter that number or their Social Security number.

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In the next section, the person or entity can certify that certain things are true. The first is that the TIN listed is correct or that a new TIN is in the process of being issued. Next is that the person or entity is not subject to withholding income tax, although this line should be crossed out if it is not true. The third is that the person or entity is a US citizen or other US person as defined by the IRS, including a resident alien, company, property or a specific type of trust. Signature and date are required in most cases.

There are some cases where no signature is required or where the second item in this section should be crossed out. The form includes instructions that indicate how this section should be properly completed. Among the various situations that have special instructions for this section are when the form is used for purposes of real estate transactions, interest or brokerage accounts, mortgage interest, debt cancellation, or contributions to an individual retirement account (IRA).

To use

The applicant will use the information collected on Form W-9 to produce a Form 1099. A 1099 details the money that was paid to the person or entity during that tax year. This form is sent to the person or entity and filed with the IRS. The applicant may use a replacement Form W-9 if it is substantially similar to the form issued by the IRS. In that case, the person or entity must complete the substitute form in lieu of Form W-9.

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Taxes not withheld

Unlike Form W-4, which employees use to authorize an automatic tax withholding of their paychecks, filing a W-9 does not cause taxes or Social Security payments to be withheld. An independent contractor, for example, is solely responsible for the full amount of taxes on his or her income. Therefore, payments made to an independent contractor have no withholding amount. The payer reports on a form 1099 how much was paid during the year, and the self-employed must pay taxes.

Other Situations

In some cases, a person or company may request to fill out a Form W-9, but will end up not needing to use the information or fill out a Form 1099. If payments made during the tax year are less than a certain amount, for example, a 1099 form does not need to be filled out. For independent contractors, the minimum amount was $600 US dollars in 2012. Some types of payments are exempt from needing to be reported on a 1099 as well. Detailed instructions and all forms are available on the IRS website.

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