A Comprehensive Guide to Form W-9: How to Fill it, When to Use it, and Common Mistakes to Avoid

Form W-9 is a document created by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to control the taxation of self-employed US citizens. It does not request information about earnings but requires a taxpayer identification number, legal name, address, and entity type.

The form is used in various cases, such as receiving payments for services, opening a bank account, receiving dividends or interests from financial institutions, inheriting property, or renting a property with tenant security deposits. It is essential to know who can make an inquiry and why, as personal information can be used for fraudulent purposes.

The W-9 form can be downloaded online, and there are step-by-step instructions for completing it. Mistakes may lead to penalties from the IRS.

Who needs this blank and when you could receive an appropriate request?

Let’s now find out in what cases you might be asked to complete a blank. The following spreadsheet will make it clear.

Who createsIn what case
Freelancers, independent contractors, vendors, and other self-employed US CitizensThey’ve received $600 or more for their services during a tax year from a certain payer
Individuals who open a bank accountThe bank may ask you to provide all the essential data for opening a new account.
Individuals who receive dividends or interest from financial institutionsThey’ll need your TIN and other information to report the income they’ve paid to a person to the IRS.
A person who inherits propertyA will executor will ask an heir to complete W-9
Someone who rents a property with a tenant security depositYour TIN and other data are needed, cause the deposit itself generates interest

It’s crucial thing to know who can make an inquiry and why. The form is used to deliver valuable personal information that might be used for fraud purposes, in case it leaks.

Note that there are situations when you shouldn’t complete the blank. If the request comes from a company/individual you don’t know, you’ve got it from your employer or it’s just suspicious, ask about the reasons for asking to complete a current W-9 form. It’ll also be wise to consult with a tax expert. Internal Revenue Service never sends an inquiry letter to individuals and companies!

Where to get a W-9 form?

In most cases, it will be attached to the request letter. If not, then you’ll probably ask your self “where can I get it?” The first option is to go to the top of this page and download it. Make sure it’s the latest version of the form. Not only you’ll have the latest version, but you’ll also get assistance with completing and sending it back.

Step-by-step W-9 instructions

There are two options for filing: a free W-9 PDF and a printable one. The first one is the best when you’re going to use an email delivery and digital signature, while the second one implies a hard copy. You’ll have to fill in several lines before you’ll sign it and furnish the document to the requester. Here is a step-by-step guide to follow.

  • Line 1. You’re asked to enter your name. Use the one shown in your Income Tax Return.
  • Line 2Here you should enter your business name, trade name, or disregarded entity’s name. If it’s the same as shown in Line 1, you can omit it.
  • Line 3. Choose entity type. In most cases, it’s not a complicated thing, but there might be some troubles for LLCs. If the company is a disregarded entity owned by another LLC that is not disregarded for taxation purposes, then check the box “Limited Liability Company” and select its type: Partnership, C Corporation, or S Corporation. In case you’re a single-member LLC, which is disregarded for U.S. federal tax purposes and owned by an individual, then check the box “sole proprietor or single-member LLC”.
  • Line 4. In most cases, you’ll not have written anything here. It serves for exemption and FATCA codes. If you’re an exempt payee, enter the appropriate code, which can be found on the “Instructions” page.
  • Line 5. Give your full address. This is where the requester will send information returns.
  • Line 6Enter your ZIP code, city, and state.
  • There is a special one on the right for the requester’s name and address. It’s optional.
  1. Part 1. In this section of the emailable document, you have to enter a correct Taxpayer Identification Number. There are three possible options here: it’s your Social Security Number, Employer Identification Number, or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (for residents alien). Again, there might be some troubles if you’re LLC. For Limited Liability companies that are owned by individuals and disregarded for tax purposes the right option is to enter the owner’s SSN or EIN (SSN is preferable).
  2. Part 2. You have to sign the document here. Also, cross outline 2 if you’re subject to backup withholding. You shouldn’t always certify the blank. See part II instructions if you need more detailed information.

You should give only correct data. Mistakes may lead to penalties from Internal Revenue Service. Incorrect TIN will result in backup withholding status being applied and $50 fee. Other false statements with no reason for it will result in $500 fine. At last, falsifying information may lead to criminal penalties.

Fillable W-9 form or printable: which one is better to use?

A spreadsheet below will help you compare the versions and make a choice. Then just download it of the type you think to be the most appropriate one.

FeaturesFillablePrintable
Delivery typeOnline electronicOffline
CertificationDigital signatureStandard signature
Delivery timeInstantRequires some time
SafetyRather safe when using protected emailAbsolutely safe in case of hand-to-hand delivery. Rather safe when using postal delivery

Both online submissions for emailable PDF and offline delivery have their pros and cons. It’s up to you whether to choose to edit online or print it. Everything depends on your preferences in the end.

How to send the document securely?

There are several ways how to send it online or offline:

  1. A protected email with digital encryption.
  2. Special web services.
  3. Hand-to-hand delivery.
  4. Postal services.

File it only to the requester. You don’t have to furnish a copy blank to IRS.

Note that you need to send a completed blank as soon as possible. There are no actual deadlines being set by Internal Revenue Service. At the same time, you have to do that before businesses will file 1099-MISC to IRS, which usually happens in January. So, you may consider December as the deadline.

Fill out a W-9 Form is necessary for people whose work is related to freelancing or a career in a company.

To fill out the blank, first, you need to print a W-9 Form for free and enter your personal data. This document is used to confirm the taxpayer identification number. The organization in which the taxpayer works must regularly enter correct data in its annual report.

The IRS requires every working citizen to provide a download printable blank W-9. To be able to adjust, it is better to have a blank copy of IRS Tax Form W-9 on hand. If the error in the data is not eliminated, then you will receive a fine and 28% of your current income will go to the IRS.

The tax office website has all the forms and documents that you may need to pay taxes. The IRS gov form contains all the necessary tips to fill out the paperwork correctly. The new W-9 Form can be completed online using a phone or tablet and then print free or sent by email.

  1. Moreover, the document must contain the following data:
  2. Name and surname as well as application. if this data has ever changed.
  3. Information about the composition of the family and their income. also needs send.
  4. Information about ways to generate income in an employment center or work for hire.
  5. Address of the actual residence.

Substitutes

You may get a request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification form not as a conventional IRS document, but as a substitute, developed by the company or governmental institution. For example, some states like Florida, New York and South Dakota have their own document version. Still, all the essential information is always present in the blank, no matter how does it look like and who has issued it.

All forms and documents on the IRS website are presented as PDF files that you can print at any time. It is best to have a few blank forms on hand to quickly fill in and send new data if necessary.

In conclusion

The W-9 form is a document created by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to control the taxation of self-employed US citizens. It is used to obtain personal information such as taxpayer identification number, legal name, address, and entity type for tax reporting purposes. The form is necessary for various situations, such as receiving payments for services, opening a bank account, receiving dividends or interests from financial institutions, inheriting property, or renting a property with tenant security deposits. It is important to know who can make an inquiry and why, as personal information can be used for fraudulent purposes. Mistakes made while filling out the form can lead to penalties from the IRS.


FAQ


What is Form W-9?

Form W-9 is an IRS document that requests a taxpayer identification number, legal name, address, and entity type.

Who needs to complete Form W-9?

Freelancers, independent contractors, vendors, and other self-employed US citizens who received $600 or more for their services during a tax year from a certain payer.

What are the cases where I might be asked to complete Form W-9?

You might be asked to complete Form W-9 when opening a bank account, receiving dividends or interests from financial institutions, inheriting property, or renting a property with tenant security deposits.

Why is it important to know who can make an inquiry and why?

It is essential to know who can make an inquiry and why, as personal information can be used for fraudulent purposes.

Can I refuse to complete Form W-9?

Note that there are situations when you shouldn’t complete the blank. If the request comes from a company/individual you don’t know, you’ve got it from your employer or it’s just suspicious, ask about the reasons of asking to complete a current W-9 form.

Where can I get a Form W-9?

You can download a Form W-9 online. Make sure it’s the latest version of the form.

What are the step-by-step instructions for completing Form W-9?

The step-by-step instructions include entering your name, choosing an entity type, giving your full address, entering your Taxpayer Identification Number, and signing the document.

What are the consequences of giving incorrect information on Form W-9?

Mistakes may lead to penalties from the IRS. An incorrect Taxpayer Identification Number will result in backup withholding status being applied and a $50 fee. False statements with no reason for it will result in a $500 fine. Falsifying information may lead to criminal penalties.

What is the difference between a fillable W-9 form and a printable one?

A fillable W-9 form is an online electronic version that requires a digital signature, while a printable one is an offline version that requires a standard signature.

Which version of Form W-9 should I use?

It depends on your preference. If you prefer to sign digitally and use email delivery, a fillable form is the best option. If you prefer a hard copy, a printable form is appropriate.