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How Do I Fill Out a W-9 Form?

A social security number or EIN is necessary to fill out a W-9 form.
W-9 form.
Backup withholding refers to the percent of an individual's wage payments that must be paid to the IRS.
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  • Last Modified Date: 13 September 2014
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A W-9 form is a tax form available from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), though it is one of the few forms that is not used by the IRS itself, meaning that the completed forms are not sent back to the IRS. Instead, these forms are usually used by businesses who are hiring other businesses to work for them. A business could be a corporation, a partnership, a limited liability company (LLC), or an individual/sole proprietorship. The form is relatively simple and straightforward to fill out, and only requires a name and address, taxpayer identification number, and signature.

The W-9 form is a "Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification," and the hiring business will need this taxpayer number in order to generate form 1099s. 1099s are income forms that are sent both to the IRS and to the individual who filled out the W-9. Anyone who fills out a W-9 is certifying that the information contained on the form is correct, and that they are exempt from backup withholding; however, one might be subject to backup withholding if their taxpayer identification number and last name do not match what the IRS has on file.

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Keep in mind that a filling out this form and giving it to a business means that you are responsible for withholding your own taxes; a business will typically not withhold any taxes for another business, even a sole proprietor. Begin by filling out your name on the first line; this must match what appears on your income taxes. If the business name is the same, i.e. in a sole proprietorship, leave the second line blank; if, however, the business name differs, fill in the business name on the second line.

Next, check the correct box based on your business type. Then, fill out the street address; this is either your address, for an individual, or the business' address. Enter your Social Security number or employee identification number (EIN). A sole proprietor will fill out the Social Security number, while all others will typically fill out the EIN. These serve as your taxpayer identification number (TIN). Sign the form to verify that the information is correct, and submit it to the requestor.

A W-9 form will typically come with attached instructions, so be sure to consult them for any additional questions. It is important to fill the form out correctly. If you have recently been hired as an independent or freelance contractor, it is a good idea to print the form and submit it to your employer. The forms may be found for free online.

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anon310157
Post 12

Read the instructions. You only need to sign if you are correcting something that was originally wrong.

SZapper
Post 11

I just wanted to say that you filling out a W-9 form isn't hard, and finding the form isn't hard either. You can find the form at the IRS website, for one thing. Also, a lot of libraries have tax forms available for anyone to take.

But the best part is, most companies that want you to fill out a W-9 form will make one available to you. Most companies I've filled out W-9 forms for have either emailed me one or had one available for download on their website. So the entire process is really easy!

The only catch is that you then have to print out the form and mail it via regular mail, since you have to sign it.

starrynight
Post 10

@KaBoom - I think it's easier to pay quarterly taxes too. Not to mention that if you don't, they hit you with a penalty at the end. I think this is only if all your income is from freelance work though. If you have a combination of employee and contractor jobs, I'm not sure if there would be a penalty or not.

And it is very true what someone else said about most companies not paying you until you fill out your W-9 IRS form. For example, my boyfriend does audiovisual work, and he works as a freelancer. He's signed on with several different companies. And none of those companies would give him his first paycheck until he filled his tax forms out.

KaBoom
Post 9

@Oceana - I agree, the tax W-9 form is extremely easy to fill out. I believe it's only one page (or two pages at the most!) When I have to fill out a W-9, I usually download it as a PDF, then type in my answers. My handwriting isn't so great, so it's look a lot better this way.

And like everyone else said, if you have to fill out a W-9, you will be receiving a 1099 at the end of the year. It is smart to put some money aside for taxes, but did you know you can pay estimated taxes throughout the year?

This is what I do. I have a hard time not spending the money if I have access to it, so I just pay it quarterly.

OeKc05
Post 8

The IRS has W-9 forms available for download on their website. Most companies that I know of tell the independent contractors that they hire to just go to the site and print out the form.

Lots of places will not pay you until you have completed and sent in the form. I did some freelance graphic design work last year through a website that listed several jobs from different companies, and they told me that before I could even accept a job, I would have to mail in a completed W-9 form.

wavy58
Post 7

@kylee07drg – I had that same question a year ago. I had just filled out my W-9, and I had been hoping that there would have been some information on the form that told me how much I should expect to owe in taxes, like a percentage or something, but there wasn't. I had to ask other small business owners what they did.

My friend who owns a transmission shop told me that she usually holds back 25%. She said that this is usually more than enough to pay her taxes.

So, that is what I did. I ended up owing just a little bit more than that, because I did not have expenses that I could write off, like my friend did. I owed more like 26% of my earnings, so this year, that is how much I am taking out of each check and putting in a savings account.

kylee07drg
Post 6

I feel a lot better after reading this article and the comments on how easy it is to fill out a W-9. I just got hired to do some work as an independent contractor, and I was told I would have to fill out a W-9 form. I haven't received it yet, but I will have to fill it out as soon as I do so that I can get started working and making money.

I do have one question about doing work that requires a W-9. Since I will have to set aside money to pay my taxes, how do I determine how much this will be? Is there a certain percentage that works for most people?

Oceana
Post 5

I started doing some freelance work last year, and I had to fill out my first W-9 form. I have to say that it was the easiest tax document I have ever filled out.

When it comes to actually doing my taxes, I have to have the assistance of a computer program or an accountant. The forms I have to deal with then are so complicated that I am afraid I will mess something up.

Filling out the W-9 was the easiest part of the whole process. I didn't even have to keep up with how much I made all year, because I received a 1099 with that amount written on it in time to file my taxes.

Mykol
Post 4

If you need to have people fill out a W-9 form, they are very simple. The IRS website also has detailed instructions showing you how to fill them out.

Each line is explained and is clear about the information that is needed. My husband has some people who work for him that don't speak much English.

He helped them fill out their W-9 forms, and it was simple enough that they were able to understand what information was needed.

bagley79
Post 3

If you fill out a W-9 form and receive a 1099 for your wages, the first thing I would do is set up a plan for taxes.

If you can have this done automatically without ever touching the money yourself, it makes it much easier.

I don't have taxes withheld from my income, and know if I don't set money aside to pay taxes, I will never have it when it comes time to file.

I have a certain amount of money automatically moved from my checking account to a savings account every time I get paid.

This money goes into a completely separate account than my regular savings account. By keeping it completely separate, I know I won't get it mixed up with other funds.

If I happen to have extra money left over after I have paid my taxes, I just keep it there as a cushion.

I have worked this way for many years. I know that any time I fill out a W-9, the responsibility of withholding taxes is always mine.

golf07
Post 2

Filling out a W-9 form is not complicated at all. Basically it just contains your name, address and some number for the government to keep track of your income.

In order to get paid from a company, you usually have to fill out either a W-4 or a W-9 form. The W-4 tells how much money you want taken out of your income for taxes.

If the company doesn't withhold taxes for you, you will be responsible for that. When you fill out a W-9 form, you know you will receive a 1099 at the end of the year showing how much income you made with that particular company.

When you do your taxes, this is usually filed as miscellaneous income. If you need to fill out a W-9 you can easily find them online and print them off.

It can be confusing keeping track of the right forms to fill out. As long as your correct social security number is on the form, you can be sure the government will know how to tax you on the income you made.

myharley
Post 1

When my son sold life insurance, he was considered an independent contractor and filled out a W-9 form.

This was the first time he worked in a job situation like this and was used to his employer withholding taxes for him.

He was quite successful at this, so was making some decent money. It was great to receive such higher paychecks, and hard not to spend it all.

Even though there were many expenses he was able to deduct when it came time to pay his taxes, he would have been in trouble if he had not set some money aside.

It does take a lot of discipline for someone to do that. When it is automatically taken out of your paycheck, you really don't even miss it. There is something harder about setting it aside yourself.

A large percentage of our income goes to taxes, and it is never easy to set that much money aside once you have your hands on it.

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