Home Business W2 vs W9 Form: What’s the Difference?

W2 vs W9 Form: What’s the Difference?


Around 75% of American households pay federal income taxes, payroll taxes, or both.

If you’re an employer, you’ll be at least vaguely familiar with the various forms that need to be filled out every year at tax time. However, it can be difficult to get fully to grips with each form, especially since many of them have quite similar names.

W2 forms and W9 forms cause a lot of confusion. There are similarities between the two, but important distinctions to think about as well.

Read on to learn all about W2 vs W9, and which one applies to which kind of worker.

W2 vs W9

W2 and W9 forms fulfill the same function. They both keep the IRS up to date on important information regarding taxpayer liability.

However, there are important distinctions to be drawn between the two. We’ve looked at both forms in more detail below.

What Is the W2 Form For?

The W2 form is a document that employees fill out and give to their employers. It contains information about the employees that is relevant to their tax status. It is on the basis of this information that an employer knows how much to withhold from each paycheck for state and federal income taxes.

What Is the W9 Form For?

W9 forms are for workers who operate as independent contractors rather than employees. Such workers do not have tax withholdings to be calculated on each paycheck, as they make all their returns in one go at the end of the year.

Other Important Forms

There is a huge number of forms the IRS uses to collect and analyze taxation information. We don’t have time to look at all of them here. However, the two below are also of relevance to many taxpayers, so you should be familiar with them.

Form 1099

Form 1099 is another form that is relevant to those who are self-employed. It is used to record various different types of income.

The W4 Form

People often get confused between the W2, W4, and W9 forms, and understandably so.

The W4 form, like the W2 and W9, is filled out by the employee. It contains information about the employee’s withholdings, so that employers know how much to keep from each paycheck in advance of paying their own taxes at the end of the year.

If you’re filling out these forms, or other types of payroll documentation, automation could save you a lot of time and hassle. If you think this is something your business needs, here’s more info.

Keeping Up to Date on All the Important Tax Forms

So, when it comes to W2 vs W9, do you know all you need to? This guide should serve as a good starting point. 

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