Thursday Thirteen – IRS Style. 13 Facts about W9’s.

This Thursday Thirteen covers 13 facts about the IRS W9 Form you may, or may not have known about:

13. Which payees are exempt from backup withholding?
* An organization exempt from tax under section 501(a), any IRA, or a custodial account under section 403(b)(7) if the account satisfies the requirements of section 401(f)(2),
* The United States or any of its agencies or instrumentalities,
* A state, the District of Columbia, a possession of the US or any of their political subdivisions or instrumentalities,
* A foreign government or any of its political subdivisions, agencies, or instrumentalities, or
* An international organization or any of its agencies or instrumentalities.

12. Which payees may be exempt from backup withholding?
* A futures commission merchant registered with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission,
* A foreign central bank of issue,
* A dealer in securities or commodities required to register in the US, the District of Columbia, or a possession of the US,
* A real estate investment trust,
* An entity registered at all times during the tax year under the Investment Company Act of 1940,
* A common trust fund operated by a bank under section 584(a),
* A financial institution,
* A middleman known in the investment community as a nominee or custodian, or
* A trust exempt from tax under section 664 or described in section 4947.

11. The IRS recommends that even if you are exempt from backup withholding, you should still complete a W9 to avoid possible erroneous backup withholding.

10. What is the purpose of the W9?
A person who is required to file an information return with the IRS must obtain your correct taxpayer identification number (TIN) to report, for example, income paid to you, real estate transactions, mortgage interest you paid, acquisition or abandonment of secured property, cancellation of debt, or contributions you made to an IRA

9. Who needs to complete a W9?
A US person (including a resident alien), to provide your correct TIN to the person requesting it (the requester).

8. Why do “they” need a W9 completed?
* To certify that the TIN you are giving is correct (or you are waiting for a number to be issued),
* To certify that you are not subject to backup withholding, or
* To claim exemption from backup withholding if you are a US exempt payee.
(You are also certifying that as a US person, your allocable share of any partnership income from a US trade or business is not subject to the withholding tax on foreign partners’ share of effectively connected income)

7. If a requester gives you a form other than Form W-9 to request your TIN, you must use the requester’s form if it is substantially similar to this Form W-9. The IRS cares about the information on the form, not the form itself.

6. Penalties? Yup!!!
* Civil penalty for false information with respect to withholding. If you make a false statement with no reasonable basis that results in no backup withholding, you are subject to a $500 penalty.
* Criminal penalty for falsifying information. Willfully falsifying certifications or affirmations may subject you to criminal penalties including fines and/or imprisonment.
* Failure to furnish TIN. If you fail to furnish your correct TIN to a requester, you are subject to a penalty of $50 for each such failure unless your failure is due to reasonable cause and not to willful neglect.
* Misuse of TINs. If the requester discloses or uses TINs in violation of federal law, the requester may be subject to civil and criminal penalties.

5. What is backup withholding? Persons making certain payments to you must under certain conditions withhold and pay to the IRS 28% of such payments. This is called “backup withholding.” Payments that may be subject to backup withholding include interest, tax-exempt interest, dividends, broker and barter exchange transactions, rents, royalties, nonemployee pay, and certain payments from fishing boat operators. Real estate transactions are not subject to backup withholding.
You will not be subject to backup withholding on payments you receive if you give the requester your correct TIN, make the proper certifications, and report all your taxable interest and dividends on your tax return.

4. You will not be subject to backup withholding on payments you receive if you give the requester your correct TIN, make the proper certifications, and report all your taxable interest and dividends on your tax return.

3. If you are a US resident alien who is relying on an exception contained in the saving clause of a tax treaty to claim an exemption from US tax on certain types of income, you must attach a statement to Form W-9 that specifies the following five items:
1. The treaty country. Generally, this must be the same treaty under which you claimed exemption from tax as a nonresident alien.
2. The treaty article addressing the income.
3. The article number (or location) in the tax treaty that contains the saving clause and its exceptions.
4. The type and amount of income that qualifies for the exemption from tax.
5. Sufficient facts to justify the exemption from tax under the terms of the treaty article

2. To sign or not to sign…
To establish to the withholding agent that you are a US person, or resident alien, sign Form W-9. You may be requested to sign by the withholding agent even if items below indicate otherwise.
* Interest, dividend, and barter exchange accounts opened before 1984 and broker accounts considered active during 1983. You must give your correct TIN, but you do not have to sign the certification.
* Interest, dividend, broker, and barter exchange accounts opened after 1983 and broker accounts considered inactive during 1983. You must sign the certification or backup withholding will apply. If you are subject to backup withholding and you are merely providing your correct TIN to the requester, you must cross out item 2 in the certification before signing the form.
* Real estate transactions. You must sign the certification.
* Other payments. You must give your correct TIN, but you do not have to sign the certification unless you have been notified that you have previously given an incorrect TIN. “Other payments” include payments made in the course of the requester’s trade or business for rents, royalties, goods (other than bills for merchandise), medical and health care services (including payments to corporations), payments to a nonemployee for services, payments to certain fishing boat crew members and fishermen, and gross proceeds paid to attorneys (including payments to corporations).
* Mortgage interest paid by you, acquisition or abandonment of secured property, cancellation of debt, qualified tuition program payments (under section 529), IRA, Coverdell ESA, Archer MSA or HSA contributions or distributions, and pension distributions. You must give your correct TIN, but you do not have to sign the certification.

Bottom line… Sign it.

1. You will be subject to backup withholding on payments you receive if;
* The IRS tells the requester that you furnished an incorrect TIN,
* You do not certify your TIN when required,
* You do not furnish your TIN to the requester,
The IRS tells you that you are subject to backup withholding because you did not report all your interest and dividends on your tax return (for reportable interest and dividends only),
* You do not certify to the requester that you are not subject to backup withholding (for reportable interest and dividend accounts opened after 1983 only).

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Author: Warren Orlans

Welcome to inTAXicating. My name is Warren Orlans and this is my blog. With over 17-years experience in the taxation industry, 11 of them working for the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), and the rest working in the private sector at large financial institutions responsible for resolving tax issues for corporations and individuals and the Canadian lead for a large US bank on FATCA implementation. My tax career began pretty much out of university at the CRA, in Collections, where I moved up, across, over and up again through their division with stops in Enforcement, Taxpayer Relief (then Fairness), Audit, Directors Liability, Training, Mentoring, GST, GST/HST, Payroll, Corporate Tax, Personal tax, and probably much more. If you have a collections, compliance or audit issue with the CRA, MRQ, IRS or with the CRTC, WSIB or any aspect of those agencies, inTAXicating is the place you need to contact. inTAXicating has entered into a strategic partnership with Goldhar and Associates, to create Goldhar Tax Solutions. This partnership allows my team to include amazing tax lawyers, insolvency practitioners, mortgage brokers, debt counselling experts and much more. When dealing with governments, knowledge is power. We possess strong understanding of government so we know what the next step is before the government does. When you have a collections problem with the CRA, do you hire a graphic artist? No, you get a former collector who trained the staff, and who worked as a resource officer for 5 years. Then you know you are on the right track to resolving your tax problem(s). Others offer suggestions. We offer solutions! tax@goldhar.ca

2 thoughts on “Thursday Thirteen – IRS Style. 13 Facts about W9’s.”

  1. Great article. Thanks for the info, you made it easy to understand. BTW, if anyone needs to fill out a form W-9, I found a blank form here http://goo.gl/nyU9RH. This site PDFfiller also has some tutorials on how to fill it out and a few related tax forms that you might find useful.

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