What is a W9 Form and How is it Used?

what is a w9 form

The 2024 tax season is fast approaching! Are you ready for it? Understanding and using the right forms is essential when filing taxes or managing payroll. One form, in particular, is relatively common, yet often misunderstood, the W9. So, what is a W9 Form?

This article will explain what a W9 form is, who needs to fill one out, and why it’s important for businesses and individuals alike. Read on to learn more about this important document!

What is a W9 Form?

A W-9 form is an IRS document used to collect information from individuals or businesses. This includes their name, address, employer identification number, and other vital information.

This information is used when filing taxes or preparing payroll documents. It’s important to provide accurate information on the form in order to ensure proper tax reporting throughout the year. The form enables any payments made to a business to be reported to the proper federal, state, and local agencies on time.

w9 form

Who Needs to Fill Out Form W-9 -Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification Form?

In 2024, any supplier, contractor, or small business owner who receives payments from a company should fill out Form W-9. This form must be filled out in order to receive payment from companies that you do business with. In addition to this, all individuals claiming tax treaty benefits on their income tax return must also complete this form.

  • Independent contractors providing services to businesses. Independent contractors are self-employed workers who are not employed by a company but instead provide freelance or contract services to businesses
  • Payments from various income sources. Individuals who are receiving money and payments from real estate transactions, cancellation of debt, dividends, mortgage interest, and other income sources such as royalties must provide a W9 to the payer.
  • Employees of a business. If the business does not withhold taxes from their income, an employee will need to fill out a W9 Form. This allows the payer to know how much taxes must be paid.
  • Investment advisors and financial institutions. Investment advisors and financial institutions such as banks and credit unions must provide a W9 Form to every customer in order to properly report any income received.
  • Limited Liability Companies. Any LLCs must fill out a W9 Form for their owners in order to report any income received. This ensures that the proper taxes are paid.
  • Estates or Trusts. If a person has received funds from an estate or trust, they will need to report those funds via a W9 tax form. While a trust or estate does not have to issue a payment, any payments made need to be reported.

w9 form

How to Fill Out a W9 Tax Form

When filling out a W9 tax form, it is important to pay close attention to all of the information requested. Incorrect information could delay your tax return. Below are the items you will need to fill in to complete the form:

Download the W9 tax form here

Your Name

Enter your full legal name in the appropriate box as shown on your income taxes. If you are an LLC, enter the LLC’s name instead to ensure compliance with tax laws. Make sure all names are spelled correctly and accurately.

Business Name

The business name should be included if it differs from your legal name indicated online. If it is the same, you can leave it blank.

Federal Tax Classification

In this section, you will need to check the box with the correct tax classification for the person listed in the name section of your form. Classification options include Individual/sole proprietor or single-member LLC, C Corporation, S Corporation, Partnership, Trust/estate, Limited liability company, and Others.

Exemption Codes

Here, you will input the codes for any exemptions you will be claiming. These codes are only applied to certain entities and not individuals. An exempt payee code could be entered here if the payee is exempt from having taxes withheld.


Enter your company’s mailing address here, including any applicable suite number, to ensure that tax documents are sent to the proper location. Make sure this information is up to date, as it will be used for tax reporting. Getting this wrong could cause problems for you down the road.

w9 form

List Account Number(s)

This step is optional and allows you to list the account numbers associated with any payments you plan to receive such as from a vendor. This is helpful for tracking purposes and can make filing taxes easier.

Correct Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN)

You will need to enter your company’s EIN, Social Security Number, or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number in this section. The TIN must match the name given in box one in order to ensure that there are no issues receiving your refund.

w9 form

Signature and Date

Lastly, don’t forget to sign and date your form. When you sign this document, you certify, under penalties of perjury, that you have provided correct information and that you are the taxpayer listed in box one. Make sure to proofread your form for accuracy before submitting it.

Your NameEnter your full legal name as shown on your income taxes. If you are an LLC, use the LLC’s name instead. Ensure all names are spelled correctly.
Business NameInclude the business name if it differs from your legal name indicated on line one. If it's the same, this can be left blank.
Federal Tax ClassificationCheck the box with the correct tax classification for the person listed in the name section. Options include Individual/sole proprietor or single-member LLC, C Corporation, S Corporation, Partnership, Trust/estate, Limited liability company, and Others.
Exemption CodesInput the codes for any exemptions you are claiming. These are only applied to certain entities and not individuals. If you're an exempt payee, enter the code here.
AddressEnter your company's mailing address, including any applicable suite number to ensure that tax documents are sent to the proper location. This must be kept up to date.
List Account Number(s)Optional step, where you can list account numbers associated with any payments you plan to receive. This helps in tracking and can make filing taxes easier.
Correct Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN)Enter your company's Employer Identification Number (EIN), Social Security Number (SSN), or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). The TIN must match the name given in box one.
Signature and DateDon't forget to sign and date your form. This certifies that you have provided correct information and that you are the taxpayer listed in box one. Always proofread the form for accuracy before submitting.

When Should You Ask for a W-9?

Businesses should request a W-9 form from any party they engage in a business transaction with, especially when these transactions involve payments for services rendered. Specifically, businesses should ask for a W-9 form from:

  • Independent Contractors: If you’re paying an independent contractor $600 or more in a calendar year, you’ll need to issue them a 1099-NEC form at the end of the year. To complete the 1099-NEC, you’ll need the information provided on the W-9.
  • Freelancers: Similar to independent contractors, if you’re paying a freelancer $600 or more within a year, you’ll need to collect a W-9 from them to prepare for tax season.
  • Suppliers: If you’re doing business with other companies or individuals providing goods or services, it is good practice to collect a W-9. This information may be needed for future tax reporting.
  • Law Firms: In certain circumstances, even payments to law firms need to be reported. So, you may need to request a W-9 form from them.
  • Landlords: If a business deducts rent as a business expense, they may need to issue a 1099 form to the landlord. A W-9 form will provide the necessary information to do this.
  • Small Businesses: If you are doing business with a small business, it’s wise to have a completed W-9 form on file from them. This is important for your business’s record-keeping and could be required for tax reporting.
  • Individuals Claiming Tax Treaty Benefits: These individuals will need to fill out a W-9 form to provide necessary information to the IRS.

By collecting W-9 forms, you’re ensuring that you have the necessary information to comply with tax reporting obligations, thus mitigating any potential tax-related issues down the line. Always keep this information stored securely, as it contains sensitive details

w9 form

Penalties for Non-Compliant Form W-9

Non-compliance with tax form W9 can have significant implications for both individuals and businesses. It is imperative that all relevant entities fill out this form accurately and thoroughly to avoid potential pitfalls. Some of the repercussions for not adhering to this mandate include:

  • Fines and Penalties: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can impose fines on businesses that fail to collect W9 forms from entities they pay. As of my knowledge cutoff in 2021, the penalty for not obtaining a W9 and not backup withholding when required can be as high as $530 per incident. The IRS might also impose penalties if the information provided on the form is inaccurate or incomplete.
  • Delays in Payment: If you fail to provide a completed W9 to a business that you are working with, they may delay or withhold payment. This is because they need the information on the W9 to accurately report the payments they make to you.
  • Backup Withholding: If a payer does not receive a correctly filled out W9 form from a payee, the payer may be required to withhold a portion of the payments made to the payee, known as “backup withholding”. As of 2021, the backup withholding rate is 24%.
  • Tax Misreporting: If the TIN or other crucial information is inaccurate on the W9, payments could be misreported to the IRS. This can lead to tax complications for both the payee and the payer, including potential audits.
  • Legal Consequences: Besides fines and penalties, non-compliance with tax laws can have other legal repercussions. This can include potential civil or criminal proceedings, depending on the scale and nature of the non-compliance.

Given these potential consequences, it is critical to ensure that a W9 form is completed correctly and promptly when requested. Always double-check the information provided and consult with a tax professional if you have any doubts or questions.

w9 form

IRS W-9 Form Tips

It is important to fill out your IRS form W-9 accurately and completely. Here are a few tips that will help you fill in the needed information.

  • Review the instructions carefully and thoroughly. This will ensure that you understand all of the information required on the form.
  • Make sure to use the latest version of the form. The IRS frequently updates the form, so make sure you are using the most up-to-date version.
  • Make sure to include all required information, including your name, address, and tax identification number.
  • Understand Your Entity Type. Be clear about your business structure (individual/sole proprietor, LLC, corporation, etc.) as this determines how you should report your income. Accurately identify your entity type on the form to avoid any tax complications.
  • Use Your Legal Name or Business Name Correctly. If you’re a sole proprietor, use your personal name unless you have a registered business name. For LLCs and corporations, use the name registered with the IRS.
  • If you are claiming tax treaty benefits or backup withholding, be sure to submit a completed W-9 with your income tax return.
  • Double-check all of the information you provide in order to reduce your chances of errors.
  • To make life easier, make sure to research and use the best tax software for self-employed people.
  • Finally, keep a copy of your completed W-9 for your records. You never know when you may need it.
  • Verify Your Tax Identification Number (TIN). Your TIN could be your Social Security Number (SSN) or Employer Identification Number (EIN). Ensure that the number you provide matches the name on the form to prevent IRS mismatch notices.
  • Stay Aware of Exemptions. If you fall under certain categories, like a corporation or tax-exempt entity, you might be exempt from backup withholding. Know your status and indicate it correctly on the form.

w9 form

How Does a W9 Form Compare to Other Types of Forms?

Compared to other types of tax forms, the W9 form is unique in that it is used solely for reporting purposes. It does not require income to be reported; instead, it provides the IRS with information about who received payments and how much was paid.

While the information collected on this form may be used for other tax-related purposes, the W9 itself is not used for filing tax returns or calculating tax debt.

w9 form

Form W9 Vs. Form W4

Unlike Form W4, which is used to calculate tax withholding for individuals, the W9 form is strictly for reporting purposes.

While both forms require information about an individual’s name, address, and tax identification number, the W9 form is typically used by businesses to report payments to other businesses, while the W4 form is used by individuals to report their income and tax-withholding status.

Other key differences between the W9 and W4 forms include the fact that the W9 form is generally only completed by businesses, while the W4 form may be completed by both individuals and businesses.

w9 form

IRS W9 Form Vs. IRS W2 Form

The dissimilarity between the IRS W-9 form and the IRS W2 form is that the W2 form is used to report wages and tax withheld for employees, while the W9 form is used to report payments made by businesses to other businesses or individuals.

Another difference is the fact that the W2 form must be sent to the IRS by an employer, while the W9 form is typically completed and sent directly to a payee by the payer.

Additionally, the W2 form also includes information about an employee’s tax withholding status and social security number, while the W9 form simply collects basic payment information.

Overall, the W9 and W2 forms are both important for ensuring tax compliance and reporting payments made throughout the year.

w9 form

1099 Form Vs. W-9 Form

The primary difference between the 1099 form and the W9 form is that the 1099 form is used to report payments made only to an independent contractor.

Both forms require some of the same basic information but the 1099 form requires more detailed reporting. Make sure you’re aware of the 1099 rules for employers.

Who UsesUsed by companies to request information from contractors, freelancers, or other non-employees.Used by employees to tell employers how much tax to withhold from their paychecks.Used by employers to report an employee's annual income and taxes withheld.Used by businesses to report income paid to non-employees like independent contractors.
PurposeTo provide Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) to any person or entity legally required to report payments to the IRS.To estimate the correct amount of tax withholding for an employee's paycheck.To report the amount of wages earned and taxes withheld to the employee and the IRS.To report various types of income earned by an individual to the IRS.
Who Fills It OutThe individual or entity (e.g., a contractor) providing services.The employee, when they start a new job or need to adjust their withholding.The employer.The payer (not the recipient of the income).
Who ReceivesThe person or entity required to file the information return with the IRS.The employer, who then uses the information to withhold the correct amount of federal income tax from the employee's pay.The employee, the Social Security Administration, and the IRS.The income recipient, and the IRS.
Due DateAs requested by the person or business making payments.When starting a new job, or any time the employee wishes to adjust their withholdings.Delivered to employees by January 31; file with Social Security Administration by end of February.Provided to the payee by January 31 and to the IRS by the end of February.
What It ReportsTaxpayer Identification Number (TIN), and certification that the TIN is correct.The employee's allowances and additional amount to withhold from each paycheck for federal income taxes.The total annual income, Social Security earnings, Medicare earnings, and federal and state taxes withheld by an employer.Specific types of income such as self-employment income, interest and dividends, government payments, and more.


How Often Does the W-9 Need to be Obtained?

The W-9 form must be obtained every year, or in the case of a new business or employee, whenever their information changes. It’s important to keep an updated and accurate record of this information in order to ensure proper tax filing and reporting throughout the year.

Regardless of the frequency, it is good practice to obtain a new W-9 from your payees on an annual basis, in order to ensure that any changes to their information or tax status are reflected accurately. This is simple and it can save you a lot of time and hassle.

Do I Have to Report My W9 to the IRS?

No, you do not need to report your W-9 directly to the IRS. However, it is always a good idea to keep a copy of your completed W-9 for your records in case you need to refer to the information later on. If you’re not sure how to file taxes properly, you can get free tax advice from the IRS toll-free customer service line.

What Is the Most Secure Way to Submit Internal Revenue Service Form W-9?

The most secure way to submit a W-9 to the IRS is typically by e-file or via a secure online portal. This ensures that your sensitive personal and financial information remains protected at all times.

You may also want to consider using encryption software or other security measures to further protect your data during transmission. Whatever method you choose, it is important to practice good online safety and security practices, such as using strong passwords and never sharing sensitive information via email.

Should I Enter My EIN or SSN on Form W-9?

There is no definitive answer to this question, as the IRS may use either your EIN or SSN when reporting payments made to you. However, in general, it is best practice to always enter your EIN on the W-9 form, since it provides an extra layer of protection against identity theft and fraud. If you do not have an EIN and you are an individual or a sole proprietor, you can always use your SSN instead.

Can I Refuse to Fill Out a W9 Form?

Yes, you can refuse to fill out a W-9 Form. However, if you do so, the person or business who requested it may be obligated to withhold and pay taxes on the payments they make to you. Therefore, it is usually in your best interest to comply with the request for a W-9 Form and provide the necessary information.

Who Might Ask Me to Fill Out a W9 Form?

A W-9 Form request is typically sent by any entity that pays another person or business in a taxable year. This might include employers, banks, financial institutions, lenders, and other businesses which make payments to individuals or entities for services performed or goods purchased.

Individuals may also be asked to fill out this form if they are receiving income from a company for rent payments, royalties, employment, etc. If you have any concerns or questions about why it has been requested, you should contact the entity directly for more information.

Do You Have to Report W9 on Taxes?

Yes, if you receive income or payments for which a W-9 Form has been requested, that income must be reported on your tax return. This includes any payments received from employers, financial institutions, and other businesses for goods purchased and services performed. Rent payments, royalties, salaries from employment – all of these must be included in your taxable amount when filing taxes. Subtract any applicable tax deductions or credits to arrive at the total amount due.

Is a W-9 Used for Self-Employed Individuals?

Yes, a W-9 form is typically used for self-employed individuals and independent contractors. This is because they are typically responsible for paying their own taxes and reporting their income, instead of having it withheld by an employer.

Whether you are a freelancer or a small business owner, it is important to understand the W-9 and how it can help you to ensure tax compliance and reporting. Be sure to research answers about estimated tax payments for small business owners and self-employed.

Final Words

In summary, the W9 form is a vital document for businesses and individuals. It allows them to accurately report payments made throughout the year and helps ensure that taxes are properly withheld or paid.

While it may seem like an intimidating task at first, taking the time to understand what information needs to be provided on the form can help reduce potential penalties for mistakes or omissions.

Understanding how this form compares with other IRS forms such as Form W4 and 1099 will help you better prepare your tax returns in accordance with current regulations. With these tips in mind, completing a W-9 should no longer feel daunting but rather become part of your regular accounting routine.

You can also relieve the anxiety of filling out the form by looking into the best tax software for self-employed individuals to make sure you are doing it right.

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Samantha Lile Samantha Lile is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 3 years. She is also a freelance writer and journalist who contributes to a variety of web publications from her home office in the heart of the Ozarks.