Top tips on W-9 request letter

If you work with independent contractors, vendors or freelancers, you’ll have to report to IRS about all the payments over $600 per year you’ve made to each one. This means you’ll have to get their personal data to complete 1099-MISC. The only legal way to do that is to send W-9 request letter, asking them to complete the form correctly and sign it. Let’s now find out how to do it in a right way, so that all the recipients provide you with essential info as soon as possible. You’ll also learn what to do in case the document is missing.

Tips on writing W-9 information request letter

The first thing you have to do is to download a good sample in PDF or DOC format. This will help you understand how to structure the document, what parts it should have and what data to include. The next step is to open Microsoft Word or other text editor and start creating your letter.

Your main goal is to clearly explain the recipient why are you asking for information, how to provide it and what are the consequences of ignoring the inquiry. Here are a few tips how to make it all simple but convincing:

  1. Explain the reasons of the inquiry. It may be something like “we are updating our records…” or “we are required to report to IRS… and we need your assistance in providing us with…”.
  2. Don’t forget to mention the blank is attached to the letter.
  3. Explain shortly that W-9 is requesting recipient’s Taxpayer Identification Number, entity type, name and other essential data.
  4. Ask to fill the blank, to sign it and to send the document back as soon as possible.
  5. It’ll be wise to mention possible penalties from IRS for not submitting the form, including backup withholding.
  6. You can provide contact info (optional).

The best way to create a good inquiry is to download a template on our site and use it as an example. It incorporates all the mentioned tips, giving you a good basis for your own document.

What if the blank is missing when you have to report to IRS?

If such a thing happens, you still have to fill 1090-MISC. Just leave the TIN line blank. IRS will give a response notifying that the number is missing. Send it to the contractor along with a new blank to fill and the notification about backup withholding being applied. From this moment you’ll have to withhold taxes from all future payments to the recipient. The rate is 24% for now. Moreover, the contractor will be obliged to pay a $50 fee.

Note that you shouldn’t wait till deadline if the answer is missing. There might be a reasonable ground for it. If you’re not answered for a long time, just send a new inquiry with a polite but strong request to complete the blank.

Printable or online fillable form: which one is better?

In terms of data they deliver, there is absolutely no difference between two versions. Some companies and vendors think a printable one is more safe to use. Other ones believe secure email encryption is a good enough protection and there is no need to waste time and money on post service or hand-to-hand delivery.