If you’re a U.S. citizen, the W9 form provides certain financial institutions with your US tax ID or Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) for reporting purposes. A financial institution or person might use this to report certain information about you, including income, contributions to IRAs made by you, interest, dividends and capital gains earned by you, certain real estate transactions you enter into, the balance of certain foreign financial accounts, etc. to the IRS. Learn more about IRS Form W9.
What You’ll Need
The tax ID of US individuals is either the Social Security Number (SSN) or the Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). For corporations, the tax ID of US entities is the Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) also referred to as Employer Identification Number (EIN).
Who Must Fill out the Form?
US citizens, green card holder individuals, individuals who are treated as residents for US tax purposes (they live or work in the US or are married to a US individual), as well as corporations, LLCs, estates, and trusts created or organized under US law all must fill out the form in order to be considered for an offshore bank account.
Why a financial institution asks you to complete a W9.
A US financial institution asks you to complete form W9 to obtain personal identifying information (name, address, tax ID) to report income paid to you to the IRS (interest, dividends, capital gains, cancellation of debt, royalties, rents, etc. or income paid by you to the institution like mortgage interest). Foreign financial institutions ask you to complete Form W9 to comply with the FATCA reporting requirements to which they must adhere. FATCA requires foreign financial institutions to report certain information to the IRS related to the accounts and income of their US clients. For more on FATCA, click here.
If I am not a US person, must I fill out W9?
Form W9 is only for US persons. The equivalent form that applies to non-US persons is W8-BEN (for individuals) and W8-BEN-E (for entities).
What should I do if I’m not sure about my US status?
If you are unsure about your status with the US, inform the institution or person requesting you fill out forms. The IRS website provides information. You may need to consult a US tax professional if needed.
What happens if I fail to complete Form W9?
Foreign financial institutions must fulfill certain reporting requirements under FATCA. Bank institutions cannot comply with FATCA if you do not provide a W9 and might even close your account.
What should I do once I provide the W9 to the requester?
If the requester was a foreign financial institution because you have financial accounts with that institution, you should make sure that you are reporting those accounts in your annual FBAR form FinCEN 114 and FATCA Form 8938 if you meet the reporting thresholds.