WHAT IS A W-9?
Form W-9 is a common used from with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as a way for a business/independent contractor to provide necessary information to an entity/individual paying for services/products. The form is called "Request for Tax Payer Information and Certification" because it is, requesting information.
WHY AM I BEING ASKED FOR A W-9?
An entity/individual requesting the W-9 wants to track and/or deduct the monies paid to you for services/product. They are simply requesting for your information for accuracy of bookkeeping and potential tax deductions for them.
HOW TO FULFILL THIS REQUEST
1) Get your Employer Identification Number - EINs are essentially social security numbers for your business. You can acquire one FREE at Irs.gov website here.
If you have not taken the legally recommended steps for a legal business here are some options
- Free Legal Roadmap
- Ultimate Legal Checklist Bundle
- Get Legit Education from TheLawTog (step-by-step set-up)
2) Download the W9 FREE from the IRS - This does NOT change your tax liability - this is money you should be reporting anyways!
3) Fill it out - You will need to include your Name, Business Name, Federal Tax Classification, Exemptions (if any), Business address, Employer Identification Number (EIN).
4) Send to client - Bottom line, this is not a big of a deal! It is just an official way to give an entity/individual who has hired you information so they can do their taxes.
WHAT IF A PERSONAL CLIENT IS REQUESTING A W9?
You may run into a situation where a personal individual hiring you for personal photography services may request a W9. On it's face, this may make you uncomfortable but you have a few courses of action. First, simply provide the W-9 and let their tax actions be their actions. Second, discuss with the client the purpose.
I'd caution you to jump to conclusion of "tax fraud" if a personal client asks for a W9. This is actually a good opener to have a discussion with your client as to their end use of the photographs. Perhaps they were intending to use personal photographs on social media/website, which would necessitate a different license (commercial versus personal print release).
If you have further W-9 questions you may:
- Join our free community group to ask
- Refer to your CPA/Accountant