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.
Here are several ways to set up an electronic Form W-9 submission process:
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 email it to suppliers to be completed.
Download the IRS' version of the Form W-9 in PDF format, and email 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.