Filling out W-9: Step by step guide

Almost everyone involved with independent workforce has to deal with the intricacies of tax papers, especially those who provide services to businesses not as an official employer. Unless you are paid under $600 or operate within some labor agreement or a contract, there’s actually nothing to worry about. But as soon as you become a freelancer, most companies would request you to complete a special blank to identify taxpayer information and prepare further information returns for the IRS. Although it is just a formal procedure, some might find it a bit intimidating because there are no guidelines to follow.

Step one: How to get a form

The easiest way to get started is to open up any search engine and type in the direct inquiry. There may be more than one source offering to download a blank – besides, different versions can pop up, too. So you have to find the latest update, but usually the IRS website ranks first and provides W-9 forms 2018 printable right in the top positions. In fact, they do not get changed much, which is why a 2019 version can totally resemble previous blanks. After you get through formalities, it is time to move to the second stage.

Step two: PDF vs.printed

Do not jump into business straight away, because next up you have two options to consider. Forms may be completed either by hand or digitally on the computer through a PDF editor. Mostly it is a matter of taste and convenience, yet both options differ a little:

  1. If you want to fill the paper by hand, then open a document in your browser. Find ‘Print’ icon at the top bar and print it.
  2. Being self-employed is no easy, but you don’t have to write on the paper all the while. Instead, download the file on your computer and edit fillable boxes in any PDF editor.

Step three: How to fill it out

Finally, here comes actual completing the blank. Whether you choose to work with a printable version or stick to its computerized alternative, the process is similar:

  • Firstly provide your legal name (the second line asks for a business name, but if you don’t have a registered entity, just skip the line).
  • Then mark your tax classification. Individual contractors stick to the first little box. LLCs go for the second line and additionally choose how they’re taxed (as a corporation, partnership etc.).
  • After that provide your address, city, state and ZIP code.
  • Part I requests your valid Taxpayer Identification Number. For independent contractors it would be just a social security number, but those who have an EIN should use the second box.
  • And lastly you need to sign the blank. You can use an example of W-9 through RightSignature service which allows to sign documents digitally. Or simply print the fillable version and then sign it.

Note: in case you find online some example of W-9 form filled out for an estate or, say, a corporation, any other tax classification would be much the same. Just carefully follow the boxes and provide appropriate data according to your classification.