Anyone who did work for a company but was not an actual employee of that company is required to fill out W-9 federal income tax forms for every company for which they performed non-employee work. W-9 forms are known as “information reporting” federal income tax forms. If the company you performed work for is required to file any kind of tax return they must get your information. If your tax information is not already in their records, they will ask you to file a form W-9 to provide this info.
Who might be asked to fill out a form W-9? Freelancers, for one. Freelancers are brought in to perform work on projects that are short term. This involves work such as writing, research, or graphic design work. They aren’t needed full time, as the work will run out. Freelancers are required to fill out W-9 income tax forms.
Another group that uses the W-9 income tax forms to report information to clients is consultants. Consultants come in and advise a company on public relations, cost cutting, or personnel training, among other things. If you’ve consulted with a company, you are required to fill out W-9 income tax forms for each company you consulted with.
Other independent contractors, such as custodians, landscapers, or repair people must also fill out W-9 income tax forms. This is true even if the work was carried out over a significant period of time. Contractors working with a business for many years still turn in W-9 income tax forms.
These tax forms are also used to help the company avoid backup withholding from the checks they issue to you. As an independent contractor, you are responsible for paying your own taxes. Having a form W-9 on file for you allows companies to show the IRS that they do not owe payroll taxes on the money they paid you.
After you fill out the W-9 income tax forms for each company you freelanced, consulted or contracted for, remember that you don’t hand them over to the IRS. Again, do NOT turn the W-9 income tax forms into the IRS! Turn them into the companies for which you worked. They will maintain these income tax forms, and in turn, issue a form 1099 or similar to you for your own tax purposes.