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What you need to know about Form W-9

What is Form W-9?

Form W-9 used to provide a TIN to the person who is required to file info with the IRS to report income paid to you, real estate transactions, mortgage interest you paid, acquisition/abandonment of secured property, cancellation of debt, contributions you made to the IRA.


Summary in layman’s terms:

  • It's a short one-page form with five pages of instructions.

  • It gathers your tax information to help the person who sent you Form W-9 to then fill out Form 1099.


Who needs to fill it out:

  • If you’re a contractor, freelancer, or consultant getting $600+ in the tax year. You will get sent back Form 1099-MISC

  • If you just opened a new account with a bank they might need you to fill it out

  • Banks/financial institutions might need you to fill it out so they can submit some variant of Form 1099

  • If you are forgiven of debt you will need to submit Form W-9 to them so they can then submit form 1099-C with IRS.


How do I get it?

Since the purpose of filling it out isn’t really for you, If you need to fill it out, it’s on its way to you sent by the person that need’s that information. But if there is a mishap, you can go to the IRS website to get a PDF.


When not to fill it out:

If you receive it from someone you don’t know or your employer, don’t fill it out. It’s likely a scam trying to collect your personal information.


How to fill it out:

As previously stated, the form comes with detailed instructions, so I’ll give a simplified version.

Top Section

  1. Print name

  2. Business name

  3. Kind of business

  4. Exempt status if applicable (more information on page 3 Line 4, Exemptions of Form W-9)

  5. Contact information

  6. Contact information

Part 1.

Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN): SSN or EIN


Part 2.

Sign to validate information above


Form W-9 is a pretty straight forward form. As long as you know the details of who needs to fill it out and when, and you’re familiar with your business, it should be a very simple process.


Helpful resources:

Blog simplifying the process

IRS info on TIN

Variants of Form 1099

IRS info on Form W-9


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