To our knowledge there is not an IRS guideline for the retention of Form W-9. However, there is a guideline regarding general documents maintained by a business for supporting its financial records. Within this guideline are some documents specifically related to the AP process. We have a tool on the Web site that provides a listing of the documents affecting AP and the guidelines for record retention. Keep in mind that these are only guidelines. Each company may have different record retention guidelines based on their own internal policies and other factors such as local or state regulatory statutes. In addition, it also depends on the industry and whether it's regulated or non-regulated. In terms of keeping track of the forms internally, the answer depends on the company's organizational structure, who needs access to it and how often. Some companies merely file the W-9 in the vendor set-up file. In this instance, a check list may require the W-9 before the vendor can even be set up in the accounting system. Other companies have a separate file of W-9s in alpha order to quickly locate the form. This tracking system may be more adaptable when your tax department has access to the forms if necessary but not access to other vendor data.
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