A W-9 (officially called Form W-9, Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification) is an IRS form used by companies to collect information from independent contractors, consultants, and freelancers.
The information requested includes name, address, and social security number. This information is required so that the company can report income it has paid to you to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) properly. The company will also use this information to provide you with a 1099 at the end of the tax year so that you can complete your tax returns.
The W-9 form can be accessed online at the IRS’ website, although you’ll usually be provided with a blank W-9 when you start a new engagement with a company. If you’re working with multiple companies, then you’ll need to complete the W-9 for each company. You should submit an updated W-9 if your name (or company name), address, or other information changes.
The W-9 form can be filled out online and electronically signed. Make sure to transmit your W-9 securely to protect your personal information.
The W-9 is short and pretty easy to fill out. The company that retained you should fill in its name and Employer Identification Number at the top of the form. Then you’ll fill out the form line by line.
Line 1: Your full legal name.
Line 2: Your business name, if you have one. Otherwise, leave this field blank.
Line 3: Your federal tax classification. Check the box that corresponds to how your business is set up: whether it’s just you and you don’t have a separate business, if you’re registered as a corporation, or if you’re part of a partnership or limited liability company.
Line 4: This section is for exemptions. Only certain businesses or entities with any reason for exemption need to fill out these spaces. Check out the instructions for more information, but typically you won’t need to fill in this section if you are an individual providing services and your financial accounts are in the United States.
Lines 5 & 6: This is where your address information goes.
Line 7: This is an optional section for account numbers. Most individuals leave this field blank.
Part I: Taxpayer Identification Number. Use your social security number here, unless you have a business that holds its own Employer Identification Number.
Part II: Certification. Sign and date the form here.
A W-8 is like a W-9 but it is used by non-resident aliens who perform work or make income in the United States, and it’s used by foreign business entities who make income in the United States. More information can be found at the IRS website.
Disclaimer: This article and all information in it is provided for general informational purposes only. It does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal or tax advice. You should consult with a qualified legal or tax professional for advice regarding any legal or tax matter and prior to acting (or refraining from acting) on the basis of any information provided on this website.