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A W-9 form is completed by independent contractors and freelancers as a means of gathering information for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It’s a record of your name, address and taxpayer identification number (TIN) which is either a Social Security Number (SSN) or Employee Identification Number (EIN). 


You may also need to fill in the W-9 if you’ve earned interest from a bank, dividends from a mutual fund or received payment by other means. This could include cash vouchers or incentive gifts.

The W-9 is held by a third-party using the services of an independent contractor or freelance agent, and is rarely sent to the IRS. It’s kept on file for verification purposes. Information recorded on the W-9 and any payment made is reported on the 1099 form.

Officially known as the Request for Taxpayer Identification and Certification, the W-9 is unlike any other tax form. Here is information that’ll help you understand when you will be requested to fill one in and why it’s important to comply.

Download the W-9 form here

Who fills in the W-9?

The person who hires you for a service or employees you on a part-time basis will request you fill in a W-9. This person keeps your information on file and will use it to fill out paperwork when it’s time to submit their own tax return.

Related: The Five Hottest New Apps For Freelancers

It’s a way of letting the IRS know who carried out work for the company and how much they were paid.

A business owner is obliged to report any payments of US$ 600 or more made during the tax year. This is recorded in the 1099-MISC submitted by the business to the IRS.

Why a business will requests you fill in the W-9 form?

If you are using and paying for the services of an independent contractor and/or freelancer, you are responsible for requesting the person/entity fills out the W-9 and keeping it on file. The W-9 is not sent to the IRS but you need to have it on hand if it’s called for by the tax man.

Following this protocol makes it easy for a business to access the relevant details of service providers when it comes time to submit the 1099-MISC to record payments of US$ 600 or more. The 1099-MISC forms part of your 1099 submission which is sent to the IRS.

What information does the W-9 record?

The W-9 is used to record the following information for an  independent contractor or freelancer they are hiring:

  • Contractor/freelancers name or business name (if different)
  • Postal and/or physical address
  • Type of business entity i.e. sole proprietorship, partnership, C Corporation, S Corporation, trust/estate, limited liability company or “other”
  • Tax identification number (TIN); either an Employer Identification Number (EIN) or Social Security Number (SSN)

In addition, you need to state on the W-9 if you are subject to backup withholding. If you are, the business that hires you is required to withhold income tax from your payment at a flat rate of 24% for tax years 2018-2025. The amount deducted is sent directly to the IRS.

Note: An EIN is used by the IRS to identify a business as a limited liability company (LLC) which is the US-specific form of a private limited company. This is a business structure that can combine the pass-through taxation of a partnership or sole proprietorship with the limited liability of a corporation.

A taxpayer identification number (TIN) is an umbrella term which includes the Ein and the SSN. An EIN is a type of TIN but a TIN is not a type of EIN. 

When is the W-9 form used?

Typically, the W-9 is completed under the following circumstances:

Business-contractor/freelance agreement

To fill out the 1099-MISC to record payments of US$ 600 or more, a business needs to supply details of the person who fulfilled a business service. This includes a name, address and tax identification number (TIN).  

Employer-part-time employee agreements

Generally, the W-4 and W-2 are used to record information for a part-time employee and the amount paid for the duration of their time at the company, respectively. However, an employer may ask an employee to fill in a W-9 which he/she will send in place of the 1099.

Financial institution-customer agreement

Financial institutions often rely on the W-9 to record the customer’s name, address and TIN. It’s not necessary to fill out the W-9 to open up a customer account but financial institutions often use the form because it’s an useful facility for recording a customer’s details.

Real-estate-renter agreement

Some real estate businesses request tenants fill in the W-9. It’s not a requirement to secure a property to rent but it’s often used as handy facility to record important information.

To avoid backup withholding

Backup withholding is a method used by the IRS to ensure it collects taxes on income that an investor/business may have already spent before a tax bill comes due. It’s usually applied when an investor has not met the rules governing TINs. 

Related: 11 Best Websites to Find Freelance Jobs and Make Extra Money

The W-9 helps the payee avoid backup withholding; where the payee certifies on the W-9 that they are not subject to backup withholding. This allows them to receive the full payment due to them from the payer. It’s similar to the withholding exemption certification in the W-4 Form for employees.

How do I know if I am subject to backup withholding?

You will have received a letter from the IRS notifying you that you’re subject to mandatory backup withholding. This would happen if you haven’t declared all interest and dividends received in a specific tax year.

If you are subject to backup withholding, you must cross out item 2 in Part 2 of W-9 before you submit it.

For more information visit: A guide to the W4 Form

Difference between the W-9 and 1099

The W-9 is used by a business to record a contractor or freelancer’s information but it’s not usually submitted to the IRS. The 1099 is what a business and all contractors/freelancers will submit to the IRS. The latter records gross income for that tax year.

Difference between the W-9 and W-4

Independent contractors, freelancers and part-time employees responsible for their own tax returns are required to fill in the W-9. If you are fully employed and your employer asks you to fill in the W-9, you need to confirm whether the company sees you as permanent or temporary placement.

Employees working in a permanent, full-time capacity are required to fill in the W-4, not the W-9. The only time you might be requested to fill in the W-9 as a permanent employee is if you’ve received compensation other than your monthly wages. This could be gifts, store vouchers or a cash incentive.

Is the W-9 used for tax deductions?

No, the W-9 is only used to record and file information for an independent contractor or freelancer and more often than not isn’t even seen by the IRS. A  business does not deduct income tax from an independent contractor or freelance and neither does it pay Medicare or Social Security on their behalf.

It’s the responsibility of independent contractors and freelancers to submit their own tax returns. However, the IRS wants to know how much a business is paying them and this information is submitted by the business to the IRS through the submission of the 1099-MISC. 

A full-time employee is not required to fill in a W-9 because the business should already have the person’s information on file. Sometimes an unscrupulous employer or one that’s struggling financially will ask you to fill out the W-9 purely to save money. Remember, a full-time employee fills out the W-4, not the W-9.

If you are formerly classified as an independent contractor or freelancer, your employer’s tax savings will come out of your pocket as self-employment tax. You are then required to calculate and pay your own estimated tax four times a year; and you fill out and submit Schedule C when you file your annual tax return.

Related: AI Is Disrupting Freelancing: Here's How You Can Thrive

The only time a business can request you to fill out the W-9 if you are a permanent staff member is by mutual consent in a case where you’ve negotiated to work to your own time schedule at a home office and take responsibility for personally submitting your own tax return.

Download the W-9 Form in pdf here

Can I refuse to fill out the W-9?

Yes, you can refuse a request to fill out the W-9 but only if you are suspicious as to why a business has made the request. Be wary of filling out the W-9 if the business does not have a legitimate reason to ask you to fill it out.

If you are a full-time employee, it’s not necessary to fill out a W-9. It’s only required of independent contractors, freelancers and possibly part-time employees. Also be hesitant if your bank requests you to fill in a W-9. They should have that information on record and may be asking for it merely to report on dividends and interest paid to its customers. 

If you refuse to fill in the W-9, your client is obliged to withhold taxes from your payment at a rate of 24%. Businesses in the United States are instructed by the IRS to request the W-9 be completed by any service provider they’re paying US$ 600 or more to during the tax year. If either the business or the contractor fails to comply, a heavy fine will be imposed.

How to file a W-9 form

The W-9 is completed on paper or electronically. If the business requesting the W-9 is doing it through an electronic filing system, you need to make sure that a hard copy can also be produced if the IRS calls for it. An electronic signature is required for the electronic form.

If you are an independent contractor or freelance agent, the most secure way to submit the W-9 is a paper copy delivered in person to the company that is hiring your services. Remember, the form is a record of your personal information so always send it direct to a trusted source if your only option is to email or fax the form.

For peace of mind in that case, rather use a reliable courier services such as FedEx or UPS to deliver it door-to-door. That way you’re guaranteed the W-9 will not be lost or stolen and fall into the wrong hands.

What identification number do I use for the W-9 form?

  • If you are an independent contractor or freelancer operating in your private capacity, you can use an employer identification number (EIN) or a Social Security Number (SSN) when you fill in the W-9. 
  • If you are a sole proprietor, you can use an EIN or SSN.
  • If your business is LLC classified as a corporation or partnership, use the entity’s EIN.
  • If your business is a single-member LLC that’s a disregarded entity, use your personal EIN or SSN.

How do I know the W-9 request is legitimate?

If you are unsure, it’s best to speak to a tax consultant for advice. There are a variety of W-9 phishing scams that many people fall victim to; where you receive an email request to fill in the W-9 and that information is used by unscrupulous individuals.

If you get an email from the IRS; beware, it is a phishing scam. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers via email. Never reply to an email or telephone call requesting your fill in the W-9.

A business should either ask you to fill out a paper copy or will assist you with accessing the electronic filing system that they are using.

There are a few exceptions where you may be asked to fill in the W-9. A bank, brokerage firm or lending institution will request it if it has cancelled a debt that you owe. 

Related: The Best Business Loans and Financing Options for Freelancers

If you have won a prize in the form of goods or cash at a sports event or you’ve been lucky enough to win a giveaway on a business promotion, the business may request you fill in the W-9. Again, do not respond to an email notifying you that you’ve won a prize and need to fill in the W-9. It’s another phishing scam.

Steps to follow to fill in the W-9 online

Firstly, make sure you are filling in the W-9 requested for legitimate reasons. Secondly, fill in the information correctly so there are no comebacks.

If you are the business hiring an independent contractor or freelancer, enter your correct employee identification number (EIN). Otherwise known as the Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) or the Federal Tax Identification Number (FTIN), this is a unique 9-digit number assigned by the IRS to business entities in the United States and classifies the type of business entity you operate.

If you are an independent contractor or freelance agent; after you’ve filled in the name, address and identity number for your business entity, you’ll be asked if you’re subject to backup withholding and subject to reporting foreign assets. 

Where do you get the W-9?

You can either deliver the completed and signed W-9 in person or fax or email it to the independent contractor or freelancer. They in turn will return it in person or return it by fax or email. Remember, the W-9 records private information so make sure it is returned to a trusted source.

Download the W9 form Here Now

Related: 20 South African Side-Hustles You Can Start This Weekend

Louis J Schoeman

Written By

Louis J Schoeman

Entrepreneur, Risk Taker and Father. When I’m not building brands, you will find me far away from technology as part of my monthly digital detox. 


Private Delivery Services PDS

Taxpayers or Tax Professionals can use certain private delivery services designated by the IRS to meet the "timely mailing as timely filing/paying" rule for tax returns and payments. These private delivery services include only the following:

DHL Express:

  1. DHL Express 9:00
  2. DHL Express 10:30
  3. DHL Express 12:00
  4. DHL Express Worldwide
  5. DHL Express Envelope
  6. DHL Import Express 10:30
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  8. DHL Import Express Worldwide


  1. FedEx First Overnight
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  5. FedEx International Next Flight Out
  6. FedEx International Priority
  7. FedEx International First
  8. FedEx International Economy


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  6. UPS Worldwide Express Plus
  7. UPS Worldwide Express

The private delivery service can tell you how to get written proof of the mailing date.

Here are the street addresses of the submission processing centers for delivery by a PDS

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Ordering from Displays2go

Stock Display/Item Ordering

Most items on are in stock and available for immediate shipping. Internet and catalog pricing is subject to change without prior notice.


Most orders will ship FedEx or UPS however some items require freight/pallet shipment. We are unable to ship to PO Boxes or APO/FPO addresses. We ship to all US states, US territories, Canada and freight forwarders. For delivery outside of these regions, a freight forwarder and payment by wire transfer is required.

For more information on shipping, please visit our shipping information page or contact us.

Same Day Shipping

Orders must be received before 3PM Eastern Time US on a business day. Only in-stock items will ship same day. Custom printed or build-to-order products will display a lead time on the product page. Same day shipping is not offered on weekends, holidays or other posted closings.

Determining Lead Time

All lead times are in business days and do not include weekends, holidays or scheduled closings. Unless otherwise noted, orders are processed Monday through Friday. We do NOT ship on Saturday. Holidays and scheduled closings are posted approximately 7-10 days in advance of the closing. Orders received before 3PM Eastern Time US will begin being processed the same business day. Orders received after 3PM Eastern Time US or on non business days will begin being processed the next business day.

Lead times do not include shipping transit time. Lead time begins on the first day the order is processed.

Artwork Orders: Lead time for orders that require artwork do not begin until the proof and/or artwork has been approved.

Inspect All Packages and Products Upon Delivery

Open and inspect all packages for damage immediately upon delivery. For Freight Shipments: Note any damage to the packaging on the bill of lading before the driver leaves. If product damage is found or suspected, save ALL packing materials. This includes inner and outer boxes and all packing materials. If possible, take pictures of the damaged product and packaging. Notify us within five (5) business days of delivery. Due to the limited time frame for us to file a claim for shipping damage, any damage not reported within five (5) business days of delivery becomes the responsibility of the customer.

Payment Options

We accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express & Discover credit cards.

Payment can also be made with an existing Net 30 account. To establish a Net 30 account with Displays2go, please call Customer Service at 1-800-572-2194 before ordering. An initial order of $1000 and an extensive credit check is required. Net 30 accounts are offered on a limited basis and generally require 5-7 business days for approval. The approval process will delay the processing and shipping of your initial order.

You can also prepay by check or money order for orders placed by phone.

W9 Form

Our W9 form is available for download here as a PDF document: W9 Form

Purchase Orders

We understand that certain institutions only use purchase orders. It's never a problem for us to reference your PO number on our orders. You may enter that number in the notes field on our website, or give it to the Customer Service Specialist at our 800 number when placing your order. We are also happy to send a detailed order confirmation when requested.

Displays2go will not be held in accordance to terms or conditions listed or referenced on customers' individual purchase orders. Your terms and conditions will not apply.

We do not participate in eVa, ASI or any other discount programs.

Information Regarding Resellers

We sell direct to end-users and distributors alike and do not participate in discount or reseller programs. We offer quantity discounts on bulk purchases both on our site or in the event that the required quantity exceeds our published pricing. Displays2go also maintains a selection of closeout items that many resellers may be interested in browsing.



If you are 70 1/2 or older, you can make a Tax-Smart Gift to Support Truckers Against Trafficking with a “rollover” gift from your IRA directly to TAT.

 Support TAT’s Critical Mission
 Satisfy your Required Minimum Distribution (RMD). If you have not already satisfied your RMD, you can satisfy all or part of that requirement and make a gift to TAT at the same time.
 Save on taxes. The funds you donate are not recognized as income for federal income tax purposes. You can enjoy tax benefits and still support TAT even if you do not itemize your deductions.

Contact your IRA custodian to obtain the appropriate form to make an IRA charitable rollover. The form may refer to the rollover by its technical name, “qualified charitable distribution,” or QCD. On the form, specify the amount to be transferred to TAT, identify TAT by its full legal name, and include TAT’s tax ID no. 45-2696572.

The IRA plan custodian should make the check payable to TAT and mail it to:

Truckers Against Trafficking
Attn: Kendis Paris
PO Box 816
Englewood, CO 80151

Please instruct the IRA plan custodian to reference your name and address on the check; otherwise, it may be difficult to identify that you are the donor when the check arrives.

Questions: Please contact Kendis Paris at [email protected]


W9 fedex freight

Independent Contractor or Employee? How Even FedEx Got it Wrong

FedEx truck

Small business owners often look to top companies for examples of the best practices they should use to manage their own enterprises. In fact, Disney created a whole program called Disney Institute just to teach smaller companies how to adopt the key principles that make Disney such a successful worldwide brand. But sometimes, following in the footsteps of the big players isn’t such a good idea.

Take the example of FedEx, the $45 Billion “blue chip”, Fortune 500 global logistics and delivery company. With more than 300,000 employees, one thing that you’d think we could all learn from FedEx is how to manage an effective workforce.

Well, you’d be wrong.

Turns out, this business of determining if someone really works for you or not is trickier than a lot of us think. Either that, or perhaps it’s just too easy for business owners to drop into a dreamland of wishful thinking, as they envision saving up to 30% in labor costs by not having to pay overtime, social security, payroll taxes, worker’s compensation or benefits.

When FedEx purchased Roadway Package Service (RPS) to create its FedEx Ground division in 1998, the company took the position that drivers operating for the subsidiary were not employees. After all, many of them owned their own vehicles, handled their own maintenance, took care of their own uniforms, and operated essentially as subcontractors partnering with FedEx Ground to be a part of its national network.

On the other hand, it was FedEx Ground management that specified the vehicle requirements; maintenance standards; uniform requirements; delivery times; paperwork and filing processes; and even daily personal grooming expectations. The company also deducted fees from the drivers’ pay to cover uniform costs, truck washings and rental of the scanners used to log shipments. Drivers routinely worked 50+ hours to maintain their contractual obligations, but since they were not employees they were not paid overtime, nor did the company contribute to their Social Security, worker’s comp or unemployment insurance, among other things.

Well, the chicken came home to roost for FedEx Ground in late August when a federal appeals court ruled that 2,300 FedEx Ground drivers in California were misclassified as independent contractors when in fact they should have been classified as employees.

The fallout? Hundreds of millions of dollars in damages, hundreds of millions more in back taxes, and a major company rapidly rewriting its independent contractor agreements in other states, hoping to prevent the California decision to impact it nationally.

While the legal specifics are highly intricate and continue to be contested by both sides, the moral of the story boils down to this: If it quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, chances are, it’s a duck. From the government’s perspective, an independent contractor needs to be not just a contractor – it also needs to be independent.

According to the IRS, three key categories can be used to perform an initial assessment of this question. They are behavioral, financial and relationship type. In summary, if you are primarily directing, instructing and managing the contractor; if they are NOT truly operating a separate business operation that has its own infrastructure, expenses and profit or loss, then the contractor is not independent and should be promptly re-classified and brought onto your payroll as an employee.

For more details and specifics on twenty factors the IRS will use, please see this publication:

Present Law and Background Relating to Worker Classification for Federal Tax Purposes

The FedEx Ground case is just one of numerous instances in which the courts have increasingly questioned the role of independent contractors in many situations. Nonetheless, the FedEx Ground case gives what to most of us would serve as a surprisingly clear example. In that example, just about everything was controlled by FedEx Ground, and if the same job were performed by an employee or an independent contractor, the two people would look, act and function in almost identical ways.

So as you look at your independent contractor relationships, make sure you’re enabling them to walk like whatever they are – ducks, geese, blue jays, hawks or greyhounds. That means not managing them or their activities like those of employees, and ensuring that they are operating as independent business people providing value-added services to your company, invoicing you for those services – and not just doing work like an employee would.

And, don’t forget that you need to issue a 1099-MISC for any independent contractor where payments to the contractor equal $600 or more (and that number includes expense reimbursements, by the way). In fact, the IRS also requires you to collect backup withholding of 28% if any payments are made to the independent contractor before you receive a W-9 to confirm whether a 1099-MISC will be required for that vendor.

Selected Sources

FedEx Misclassified Drivers As Independent Contractors, Rules Ninth Circuit

FedEx Latest Company Slammed Over ‘Independent’ Employees

FedEx Ground Says Its Drivers Aren’t Employees. The Courts Will Decide

Coffee Talk with Trish: Independent Contractor vs. Employee…


Image Credit: dguo @ Flickr (Creative Commons)

FedEx Freight 2019 SC District Freight Handling Competition

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