Not every aspect of your business requires a permanent employee. For many business owners, hiring a contractor is a great way to execute tasks that require skilled labor or short-term support. Need a logo designed, a cleaner, a consultant, or someone to develop a marketing plan or decorate your store? The options for hiring a contractor are endless and are usually the way to go for short-term work.

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When you hire a contractor, you don’t have to worry about paying employment taxes or adding them to your payroll. However, it is important that you follow a few steps from the beginning to ensure your reporting the amount paid to them correctly to the IRS or you could be liable for the taxes and fines.

When you hire a contractor the absolute first step is issuing a W-9. This is a form that was created by the IRS as an official request to be sent by the sender (your business) to provide the contractors legal name, tax ID, and address. When tax season rolls around, that info is used to report the amount your business paid to the contractor. The info the contractor provides on the W-9 is used by your company to generate a 1099-MISC form. That form is used to report the amount your company paid to the contractor during the calendar year.

For example, if you hire a contractor to create your logo for $1000, you need to report that to the IRS on form 1099-MISC to be able to write it off. If your contractor does not provide you with their info by the filing deadline of 1/31/19, you can/will be fined by the IRS for up to $100 per form and liable for the taxes owed on the amount paid to the contractor. Not to worry though! It’s very easy to avoid the nasty letters and fines by the IRS. All you have to do is obtain that W-9 before you issue the first payment to the contractor.

Here’s how:

Let your contractor know that you need their W-9 info on file so payment to them can be made ASAP. To make the process easier for them, you can offer to either mail or send the W-9 electronically.

You can issue a hard copy W-9 request by printing and mailing an official W-9 request to your contractor. Follow the link here.

If you have their email address, you can send an electronic W-9 request that they can open and sign from any computer, phone or smart device. Once they sign, it’s saved into your account as a pdf, try it here. 

Our next article will be describing what to do if your contractor will not return the W-9, trust us, it happens A LOT!


WageFiling, LLC has been helping businesses since 1990 prepare, print and e-file 1099-MISC and W-2’s.  We have been a Quality Supplier to the IRS since 1996 and our service has been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur and MorningStar.  It’s just 4 of us and we’re the best at what we do in our market, follow us and we’ll help keep the IRS at bay.