I have been working on a software project for a client for several months. Up until now, there have been few issues involving payment. Now that the project has come to an end, the client is refusing to pay the last of my invoices without a W9. It is my understanding that the W9 is filled out after the payment has been received. I have let the client know that I will gladly provide them with the form after receiving payment for services rendered. Am I misunderstanding how the form works? Isn't the form only necessary when filing taxes? What are my available options?

  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it belongs on money.stackexchange.com – BlueDogRanch Oct 30 '18 at 0:58
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    when one is required to file the W9 is a legal question. – David Siegel Oct 30 '18 at 1:10
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    When a person is required to provide a W( to an employer is a legal question. This should stay open. – David Siegel Oct 30 '18 at 1:11
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    "It is my understanding that the W9 is filled out after the payment has been received." This is incorrect. It is rarely done that way and it is bad business practice to do so. You are misunderstanding how the form works. – ohwilleke Oct 30 '18 at 1:33
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    This question would benefit from a country tag. – David Thornley Oct 30 '18 at 15:55

According to the IRS site

Use Form W-9 to provide your correct TIN to the person who is required to file an information return with the IRS to report, for example, ... income paid to you ...

Since the client is already obliged to file an information return disclosing the payments already made, you should provide the W9 without delay. You would be obliged to provide your TIN even if your final invoice was never paid.

In any case, it costs you nothing to furnish this information when asked. If it is more convenient for the client's accounting to provide the W9 now, why not do so? Arguing over this point will not make you remembered more fondly when the client has another project.

It may be that the client has encountered or fears to encounter a contractor who was paid and then never furnished a W9, leaving the client to have to explain why the proper 1099 was not filed with the government.

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    Thank you. I will send the W9 to the client. Although it doesn't serve much purpose I would like to clarify that the only reason the client is requesting a W9 at this point is to avoid paying what is owed. At this point, I have no desire to work with the client on further projects. – 10typesofpeople Oct 30 '18 at 1:18
  • @10typesofpeople You don't request an W-9 to avoid paying what is owed. The concern is a legitimate and routine one. If you pay without getting a TIN first, the person making the payment can get in trouble with no leverage to resolve their issue. You only ask for a W-9 because you plan on making a payment. People who don't pay don't need it. They are worried about you never giving them a W-9 and then not reporting the income, in which case they have liability for all of the taxes you didn't pay on that income. – ohwilleke Oct 30 '18 at 1:31
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    I don't see how getting a W9 would allow the client to avoid payment that is legitimately owned. That is a matter of contract, and if contracted for payments are not made, suit could be field. Having obtained a W9 would be no defense. Most clients in my experience obtain a W9 before any work is done at all. – David Siegel Oct 30 '18 at 1:35
  • I don't mean that the W9 would actually help them avoid paying me. At this point, the client is scrambling to find excuses not to pay for my work. This is merely the latest in a string of excuses. They have paid my previous invoices without requiring the form, and while I would normally be fine providing one, the client's actions have left me a bit skeptical about everything they are asking me for. – 10typesofpeople Oct 30 '18 at 1:39
  • That could well be. But in that case, any arguments you rais, unless the protect your significant interests, simply play into their hands. You may well need a lawyer to help with the contractual dispute, but that is a separate issue. – David Siegel Oct 30 '18 at 1:43

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