Ask the Taxgirl: W-9

Taxpayer asks: In doing some side work, a client sent me a W-9 to fill out and return. Why would they do that, and why is this the first time I’ve received one from a client? Is my new client somehow reporting this income or putting it down as an expense, maybe?

Taxgirl says: Independent contractors don’t usually have anything withheld on their checks, like employees do. However, if you refuse to give your tax ID or if you are a foreign taxpayer (and certain other taxpayers), the person paying you is required to withhold taxes. So, basically the payer ask you to swear that you’re not one of those people by completing the form W-9 (or form W-8 for foreign taxpayers and other special circumstances). You’d know if you were subject to back-up withholding.

Think of it as a CYA thing for the companies. Companies who expect to pay out over $600 (and thus issue a form 1099) or big companies who have lots of payees find it easier for record keeping purposes to make everyone fill one out do it. It’s just for record keeping and to help them with reporting later in the year.

Like any good lawyer, I need to add a disclaimer: Unfortunately, it is impossible to give comprehensive tax advice over the internet, no matter how well researched or written. Before relying on any information given on this site, contact a tax professional to discuss your particular situation.

Have a question? Ask the Taxgirl!

Comments

  1. CARY CLECKLER

    I was wondering if I never filled out an w-9 when I did construction work for a year and got sent a 1099 can I get around paying taxes for that doesn’t the company have to have a w-9 on file to prove I worked for them?

  2. Kelly

    The W-9 isn’t “proof” that you worked there – it’s simply a record that the company has of your Social Security number and your tax withholding status. The fact that you got a form 1099 means that the company properly submitted your pay information to the IRS. You can’t dispute a form 1099 on the basis of no form W-9.

  3. magda dia

    Hello, my employer hired me for 3 months in 2008 and paid me in check form. I asked her for a 1099 over and over again but she never sent it. I added in her payments as part of my pay even though I didn’t attach the paperwork for my taxes. I hope this doesn’t cause a red flag for me to get audited. What do you think?

  4. Author
    Kelly

    I think you’re fine. The IRS is glad that you’re reporting! If it was over $600, the payor had an obligation to file a 1099, but you did the right thing.

  5. bonnie johnson

    I was a bar manager at a non profit boat club for over 2 and a 1/2 years, making 85 dollars a week, about 2 months ago they wanted me to fill out a w-9, i was not comfortable giving my ss number, so i resigned, can i get into trouble for this

  6. Mark

    Hello, my fiance has been working under the table, which I know is wrong and now all of a sudden in Sept. her boss gave her a w-9 form, without any warning. Now she has to pay taxes for the full year and I think that is kinda rotten of him to do that and also, she has been getting treatment for hep. C and it has been through County, because it is very expensive and there is no way we could pay for that, especially since I have lost my job and been out of work for a year. What will happen if she doesnt sign form? And also a friend told me that if she works a certain schedule, which she does from 1-7 everyday, that it is concidered employee status, if she can prove it. She does keep a record of the hours she works, it is just that her employer doesnt care about this and doesnt care if she gets in trouble. Also, since he gave her the form in Sept. shouldnt the taxes start then? Well, thank you for your service, you are very cool for doing what you do for people, sleep good at night…….

  7. Krys

    Hello,
    I never filled out W9 for a company I worked for as they said the payments would not be reported and they paid us with checks. The last month working there, I was asked to fill out paperwork for “Background check” for GE and month later I was laid off. I now received 1099 form, showing my social security number which was taken from the “Background Check” form. I already filed my taxes with IRS and provided that I received cash payments not reported anywhere and now I have to amend my return. Is it legal for the company to file 1099 without me having to sign anything? Shouldn’t I be notified about this? If I knew, I would ask the m to take taxes out of my pay.

    thank you.

  8. linda campbell

    PLEASE HELP! We hired a caregiver for our elder mom (no contract, and only weekly invoices that we paid her) and 5 months later we didn’t need the caregiver anymore. I presented a Form W9 to the caregiver at the last check we wrote to her in 2010 and she refused to sign because she said she first needed copies of all the invoices we paid before she would sign (Note: I generated the weekly invoices for her and she signed them upon payment of each invoice). I copied those invoices for her immediately and have since tried to arrange to meet with her to give her the copies of invoices and get the signed Form W9 from her which she had promised. She has since made numerous excuses why she couldn’t make it to 3 meetings this past week and I fear she is giving me the run around and does not intend on signing the W9 at all. I now suspect she’s been receiving disability from social security so she probably doesn’t want to show the $16,000 income she made from us in 2010. What can I do to protect the elder mom on her tax return from not having a signed W9? Should I submit a Form 1099 without a social security# indicating that she refused to give me information? Should I call the social security office and report that she did not sign a W9 because I think she may be receiving disability unlawfully? I know we should have had the caregiver sign at the beginning of work but because the elder mom had just come out of hospital, etc. we failed to do so until the her care giving was not needed anymore, 5 months later. This caregiver was initially recommended to us the elder mom’s primary doctor. Should I call the doctor and report this?….. or see if the doctor has her social security #? WHAT TO DO? Thank you for your help.

  9. Author
    Kelly

    I always tell my clients that it’s not their responsibility to ensure that any other taxpayer complies with the tax laws; it is, however, your own responsibility to comply. So I would make sure that you’ve done your part and not speculate or worry about the rest.
    If the worker was an independent contractor and the rest of the criteria for issuing a form 1099 applies, then you should issue the form 1099. If the worker refuses to provide her Social Security number after you’ve made the request, then you can write “refused” in that space on the form.
    In the future, it’s best to get the information up front (before payment) in order to avoid these kinds of issues. Good luck!

  10. nicole

    We are asking business for doations for my daughters aau basketball team. We provided them with a tax id number, they also want a w9 form. Why are they asking for this form & do I need to supply them with one.
    Thank you

  11. John Lipp

    Hi,

    Our company plans and hosts an annual golf tournament, the proceeds of which go to a charitable organisation (100%). One of the participants wants us to fill out a W9 for the entry fees. As they claim to have a corporate policy not to donate directly, they are wanting to pay us and in turn, have us pay the charity.

    How do you think we should proceed without us filling out a W9?

    Regards,
    John

  12. Sherry K.

    Hi,
    I am getting a $50.00 rebate from my electric company. I had a new 25 K air conditioner put in my home. They sent me a w-9 form to fill out and send back. Why am I filling out this form, I’m on disibility and haven’t filled taxes out in over ten years.
    Thanks for the answer

  13. Lori

    Hi,
    What should you do if you have already paid a person for a job and they will not fill out a w-9.

    Thanks,
    Lori

  14. missy

    I have a pet grooming buisness i have a girl working for me as self employed and have for years she pays booth rent thats it I buy everything I never did the w9 thing I just added her rent which is 25% each day to my gross income and turned in that way are we gonna get in trouble? Ive been grooming 24 years and thats how everyone I worked for done it when I payed booth rent is this ok? am i gonna be in trouble

  15. Lucy

    My mother requires 24/7 sitters. She has dementia and congestive heart failure. The sitters cook for her, do light house keeping, make sure that she is safe, makes sure that she takes her meds. She is prone to falling. They bring their own food. Mostly just sit with her and make sure that she doesn’t fall, etc. Hospice gives baths. They have been paying them as independent contractors -1099 since beginning in 2011. Is the correct way to pay them? If not, what should be done?

  16. Blake

    I worked a part-time job for 2 and a half months during the holidays. When I was hired a filled out a W9 Form and I was paid by check and at $8.50 an hour. Basically I only made about $100 to $150 a week and no taxes were deducted. How do I go about paying taxes for this?

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