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What Tax Forms Are Needed for Independent Contractors?

Those planning to leave the world of employment may have one tax-related question in mind: “what tax forms are needed for independent contractors?” Taxation rules for employed individuals are definitely different from the rules for independent contractors. And for proper compliance, both clients and independent workers need to know the difference. If you’re planning to shift to freelance work, here are some tax information you need to know.

What Tax Forms Are Needed For Independent Contractors: An Explainer


Defining Independent Contractors

Defining Independent Contractors | What Tax Forms Are Needed for Independent Contractors?

First, let’s define who an independent contractor is. A person working as an independent contractor does not work regularly for a particular employer. He may have one or more clients/contractees and has more liberty in terms of when and how he will work. Because of this status, an independent contractor gets paid on a freelance or output basis. This is very opposite from the status of a regular employee, who works at a specific regular time and manner dictated by a sole employer.

Do You Qualify For IRS Back Tax Relief? Take The Quiz Now!

W9 Tax Form

W9 Tax Form | What Tax Forms Are Needed for Independent Contractors?

All independent contractors must fill out a Form W-9 (Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification). This form serves as the official document that records the independent contractor’s important work details such as name, residential address, and Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN). The TIN may either be a Social Security Number or an Employer Identification Number (EIN).

Note: Clients should keep this form in a span of 4 years in their files in case the independent contractor or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) might have to look at it.

IRS 1099 Form

Clients who pay independent contractors more than $600 annually must fill out Form 1099-MISC (Miscellaneous Income). The client must provide a copy of this form by end of January of the year following payment to the independent contractor, and submit another copy to the IRS. For independent contractors who personally file their tax returns, they can use the information disclosed in IRS 1099 form as the basis. But, they don’t need to personally file this form. It is the responsibility of the client to file it at the IRS.

Do You Qualify For IRS Back Tax Relief? Take The Quiz Now!

Tax Exemptions

Tax Exemptions | What Tax Forms Are Needed for Independent Contractors?

Clients who pay independent contractors less than $600 annually don’t need to fill out Form 1099-MISC. However, they still need to file the W9 tax form. Also, there are some payments in the independent contractor tax that you don’t need to report on the IRS 1099 form. The IRS has provided a list of exemptions in this document.


Planning to make that shift from being a full-time regular employee to working as an independent contractor? Here’s a video from the Artisan Talent that shows the difference in filing tax returns for these two work conditions:

Are you still wondering what tax forms are needed for independent contractors? Follow this guide to ensure you’ll file the proper tax forms — the IRS 1099 form W9 tax form — for independent contractor tax returns.

Have you personally experienced — or heard of stories about — filing tax forms for independent contractors? Share your stories with us in the comments section below.

Up Next: 9 Common Tax Deductions