What are W8 or W9 forms, and where may I find them?

What is a W9 Form?

A W9 form allows you to provide your US tax ID, aka TIN: Taxpayer Identification Number, to the person, including a financial institution, who needs to report certain information about you, such as income, contributions to IRAs, interest, dividends, and capital gains, certain real estate transactions, the balance of certain foreign financial accounts, etc. to the IRS.

The tax ID of US individuals is either the SSN – Social Security Number (in most cases) or the ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) in some situations. The tax ID of US entities is the FEIN – Federal Employer Identification Number, sometimes also referred to simply as EIN. 1.

Who must complete a W9 Form?

A W9 form must be completed by US persons: US citizen or green card holder individuals, individuals who are treated as residents for US tax purposes either because they live in the US, work there, or are married to a US individual and elected to be taxed as one; and entities such as corporations, LLCs, estates, and trusts created or organized under US law.

Why am I being asked to send a W9?

Any US business making payments to you may request that you complete this form. These payments could be for services you provide to the business as an independent contractor.

What happens if I’m asked to complete a W9 form and I’m not from the US?

The W9 form is intended for US residents. However, there is an equivalent form for non-US persons – the W8-BEN (for individuals) and W8-BEN-E (for entities). 

You can find these three forms here:

W9, W8-BEN, W8-BEN-E

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