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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.
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.