We have a contract with an event organizer. They'll open an escrow account for us and we'll transfer a lump sum to it. They'll select and hire vendors whom we'll contract with directly, but payments will be made from escrow. W-9 and 1099 clarification?

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You should obtain a W-9 from your event organizer, as well as from the contractors subsequently hired. You will need to report payments for services of $600 or more made to the event organizer on a 1099. It is also your responsibility to issue 1099s to the contractors, since as you say, they will be contracted to you and be paid with your funds, though by the organizer out of an escrow account—unless you have specific language in your contract with the organizer specifying that they agree to take responsibility for 1099 reporting of payments to contractors.

The organizer is essentially a middleman—the question of responsibility for reporting will turn on who has the greatest amount of discretion over the disbursement of funds. Management or oversight belongs to the party that decides to whom funds are paid (since they’re contracted to you, this is probably you), when the funds are to be paid (governed by contract with you?), how much of the payment is to be made, and if there are conditions to be met before payment is released. If the real answer to these questions is your company, you bear the responsibility for reporting.

See TAPN’s 1099: Assignment of Income and Middleman Regulations.

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