For many new freelancers, the business aspects can be confusing. There are entire lists of documents you’ll need to have on hand that can be incredibly foreign if you’ve never worked in an independent contracting capacity. Luckily, that’s why Foundations in Freelance was created. Let’s dive in and demystify one of the most common documents you’ll have clients request from you.

First, what is a W9?

A W9 form is a condiment created by the IRS for clients to request taxpayer information from you. They use this form essentially to ensure that their payments are being made to a legal entity of some kind. This doesn’t mean you need a corporation to fill one out. As a person in the United States with a Social Security Number, you can in fact be an entity. The government doesn’t care so much about the type of business as much as they care about knowing where tax money is owed and paid from.

Read on to find out why you need one, a full breakdown of the form to fill out on your own and how to ensure you’re sending the right thing to clients.

What Does It Look Like?

You can find a full blank copy here to download.

What Should You Fill In?

First, the name of your business. If you don’t have a corporation you’ll just write your full legal name.

Then, you’ll choose the type of business you have. For most new freelancers, you’ll choose Individual/sole proprietor or single-member LLC.

From there, you’ll add your address. If you intend on receiving payments somewhere other than this address, be sure to find a way to make mention to the payer about this. They’ll need to know where the business (or you) reside legally but they’ll also need to know where to send payments if using paper check.

You’ll also need to provide them with a TIN or EIN. If you’re an individual, you’ll just use your Social Security Number. If you’re a business with an Employer Identification Number or if you’ve requested one from the IRS, you’ll use your EIN.

Lastly, sign it. Regardless of business type, you’ll sign your name as a representative in charge of handling payments.

Why Do I Need One?

Simply, to get paid. This form is what allows a company or person to provide you with a 1099 at the end of the year. Without it, your taxes are more complicated.

Businesses asking for this should be businesses with which you have a relationship with or are creating a relationship with. It’s important not to give out your Social Security Number and address to strangers who might have a sketchy request. If you’re concerned about your level of judgement with new requests that might not always be legitimate, research getting an EIN to protect your personal information. EINs are always free and you will never be asked for money or personal information outside of your Social Security Number information in order to get one.

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One thought on “What is a W9 and Why Do I Need One?

  1. I just got this in the newsletter and squealed! I have been panicking about filling this form out incorrectly for a few days now (I’m the one who asked for this on IG by the way). Thank you so much for putting this together. It’s so amazing that you made this resource for the community. So many of us have no idea what to do!!!!!!!

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