W-9 Form Automation
The Requirement for a W-9 Form
Following the end of each calendar year, the accounts payable staff must evaluate whether to issue a Form 1099 to suppliers. The evaluation is based in part on the information provided by suppliers on the Form W-9, which is the Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification. If there is no form on file for a supplier, then the payables staff must badger suppliers to obtain one.
Alternatives for W-9 Form Automation
Rather than issuing printed W-9 forms to suppliers, the IRS permits an alternative, which is to allow them to submit an electronic version of the form. When this approach is used, the IRS requires that:
- An electronic signature be used that authenticates and verifies the submitted form; and
- The company has made reasonably certain that the person submitting the online form is actually the person identified on the form.
- Post an online form on the company's website that suppliers can access. Issue a password to users to access the form, which is a reasonable way to assure that an authorized person is accessing the form. This is the best approach, but also requires the most custom programming.
- Integrate the form into an online credit application.
- Create a form using Adobe Acrobat and e-mail it to suppliers to be completed.
- Download the IRS' version of the Form W-9 in PDF format, and e-mail it to suppliers.
Of these options, only the first can require that certain fields be filled in. All of the other variations could result in the submission of a partially completed form.