What is a W-9 form?

Form W-9, “Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification”, certifies the payee’s name and TIN, that the payee is not subject to backup withholding, and they are a U.S. person, including a U.S. resident alien.

A company required to file an “information return” like a 1099 form must obtain the correct taxpayer identification number (TIN) and name from the person or company (payee) that they paid.  In some instances, this information must also be “certified” with a signature in Part II.

The W-9 form, “Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification”, is used to gather this information from all US persons, including companies.  Foreign persons, including companies, would submit Form W-8 or Form 8233.  In addition, the W-9 form also communicates whether a payee is exempt from backup withholding and FATCA reporting.   There are 6 pages of instructions for the payee in determining the correct name, federal tax classification, exemption status, TIN and certification to use.

When does a W-9 have to be updated?

When does a W-9 have to be updated?

You must provide updated information to any person to whom you claimed to be an exempt payee if you are no longer an exempt payee and anticipate receiving reportable payments in the future from this person.  For example, you may need to provide updated information if you are a C corporation that elects to be an S Corporation, or if you no longer are tax exempt.   In addition, you must furnish a new Form W-9 if the name or TIN changes for the account, for example, if the grantor of a grantor trust dies.

Is there ever a need to have more than one W-9 to send to a customer requesting a copy?

Yes, a company may receive payments from one company where they are exempt from backup withholding and another company where they are not. For example, a corporation may be exempt from backup withholding in most cases but have a small division that received medical payments that are not exempt. In that case they may choose to claim exempt with most customers and send out a different W-9 that they do not check exempt for the medical services division.