What do we do if we can't get a W-9 form filled out from a vendor?

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The answer depends on where you are in the process – have you already paid the vendor? Is it a new vendor? Have you received a B-notice from the IRS on the vendor?

Assuming the vendor is new, you have payment as a leverage point. One approach is to notify the vendor that you will withhold payment until a completed W-9 is received. This will often do the trick, but line up management support (to keep purchasing in line). The second is to let the vendor know that in the absence of a W-9, you will withhold 28 percent from all payments. This is what the IRS expects, and they will come to you for the 28 percent, plus penalties, if you have not withheld. The problem is you probably don’t want the administrative burden associated with backup withholding. Hopefully you won’t have to withhold.

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