Are electronic W-9s legal?

Are electronic W-9s legal?

Yes, electronic W-9s are legal as long as IRS guidelines are followed.  Here is what the IRS says about the electronic submission of Forms W-9 in their Instructions for the Requester of Form W-9.

Electronic Submission of Forms W-9 Requesters may establish a system for payees and payees’ agents to submit Forms W-9 electronically, including by fax. A requester is anyone required to file an information return. A payee is anyone required to provide a taxpayer identification number (TIN) to the requester.

Electronic system

Generally, the electronic system must:

Ensure the information received is the information sent, and document all occasions of user access that result in the submission;

Make reasonably certain that the person accessing the system and submitting the form is the person identified on Form W-9, the investment advisor, or the introducing broker;

Provide the same information as the paper Form W-9;

Be able to supply a hard copy of the electronic Form W-9 if the Internal Revenue Service requests it; and

Require as the final entry in the submission an electronic signature by the payee whose name is on Form W-9 that authenticates and verifies the submission. The electronic signature must be under penalties of perjury and the perjury statement must contain the language of the paper Form W-9.

IRS Tip

For Forms W-9 that are not required to be signed, the electronic system need not provide for an electronic signature or a perjury statement.

For more details, see the following.

Announcement 98-27, which is on page 30 of Internal Revenue Bulletin 1998-15 at www.irs.gov/pub/irs-irbs/ irb98-15.pdf.

Announcement 2001-91, which is on page 221 of Internal Revenue Bulletin 2001-36 at www.irs.gov/pub/irs-irbs/ irb01-36.pdf.

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