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Disclaimer: Bonsai is not a law firm, does not provide legal services or advice, and does not provide or participate in legal representation

If you’ve ever offered your services, whether as a freelance, contractor or consultant, then the W9 request form is surely one of the documents you have had to fill and sign. Any business that hires you and pays you more than $600 dollars in any tax year is expected by law to withhold a certain percentage, usually 28%, to cater for your taxes. As a freelance or consultant, you should be conversant with the W9 request form. You must be wondering what the W9 form is. Well, the W9 request form is a request for your taxpayer identification number and certification. Basically, it’s all the information about you.

In case you are asked to present a W9 request form, you can easily download it from the IRS website, and fill it then present it to the person who made the request. The form isn’t complicated to fill and doesn’t require any additional documentation or attachment. The four paged document will require you to fill in your information on the first page. If you are an individual, you will need to fill in your name, address details and select your federal classification tax. Once that’s done, you will need to fill in your Social Security Number or your Employer Identification Number depending on your tax classification bracket. In most cases, if you are an individual or a self- proprietor, you will tick the first checkbox. All other checkboxes apply based on whether you have a corporate or partnership. Once that’s done, you will need to sign the form to certify that all information given is true.

Another important thing to remember is to meet the deadlines, for when the tax returns need to be filed. If you happen to be forgetful and don’t want to be caught off guard, you can easily mark it out on your calendar or set reminders on your phone. In case the company will be paying you more than $600 in any given tax year, they’ll be required to withhold 28% of your payment and pay it to the IRS. This is what is referred to as the backup withholding. If you are to subject to the backup withholding, the IRS will inform you and its then your responsibility to inform any entity about it. Once you have filled in the W9 request form, you will issue it to the requester. However, the W9 request form isn’t what is sent to the IRS. The entity will use the information on your W9 request form to fill in form 1099 which they will then send to the IRS. This is what the IRS uses to identify you and consider your tax returns paid.

To be able to fill out a W9 request form, you must have a Social Security Number. In case you don’t have one, you can apply for one from the IRS or the Social Security Administration. Additionally, your information isn’t something you just want to go dishing out. It’s important to ensure you know the reason behind any W9 request form. With your Social Security Number on your W9 request form, you do not want to become a victim of identity theft. It’s your responsibility to ensure that you and the person you give your W9 request form safeguard it so that it doesn’t land in the wrong hands. It’s also crucial to ensure that all the information on the W9 request form is correct to avoid penalties. Giving the wrong information on the W9 request form can make you face penalties that range from $50 to $500. In addition, you will also be liable for the backup withholding.