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What is a W9 tax form?

Updated March 23, 2017

Many different tax forms are offered by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The W-9 form is one of the most commonly used forms as it is required of most employees, even freelance workers. This form has several important uses, and it provides critical information so employers can make all necessary reports to the IRS.

Official Title

The W-9 tax form is an important tax form for any employer with freelance workers or an affiliate program. The full official name for this form is Form W-9: Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification.

Form's Use

The form is used for employers to collect the most important information from affiliates or freelance workers. These workers or affiliates get paid by the employer, but the worker is responsible for all his taxes. The W9 form gets reported to the IRS to help keep track of the taxes that independent contractors actually owe.

Information Required

As of 2010, a W-9 form has only one page of information to fill out, and three pages of explanation about the form and its uses. The form requires a name, address, business name (if applicable) and a Social Security Number (SSN) or equivalent Employer Identification Number (EIN).

Importance with Freelancers

The W-9 form is most commonly used with freelance employees who are responsible for paying their own taxes. This is one way for the IRS to keep track of what freelancers are making and to check the yearly W-9 numbers employers turn in versus what the freelancers claim they made.

Reported Income

The employer turns in a form to the IRS every year on every worker for whom they have a W-9, and the W-9 includes the specific amount paid to the freelance worker over the past year. The SSN or EIN on the W-9 forms are used by the IRS to get an idea of what the independent contractors are making and to make sure they are reporting their full income.

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About the Author

Monty Dayton is a professional freelance writer who has worked for the ACLU, Touchstone Publishing LLC, the University of Alaska, Fairbanks and many other employers. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Alaska and loves writing about travel, the outdoors and health topics.