Form W-9 and Other Issues

Do you remember the first time you showed up to officiate a game and the coach or game administrator handed you a form and said, "Fill this out if you want to get paid"?

        If you have officiated long enough, you have seen payment methods go from cash at the door to direct deposit of game fees into your bank account or payment card. With the changes have come an increase in rules, paperwork and a concern over privacy and identity theft.

        The IRS requires payers of funds to individuals to report those payments if they reach a certain threshold, currently $600. The reporting is done on what is referred to as an information return. Officials know those returns mostly as Form 1099-MISC. In order for payers to file the forms with the correct information, the IRS has produced another form to help payers gather the required information, Form W-9.

Below are answers to a few frequently asked questions:

Do I have to fill out the W-9? No. You may provide the information to the payer another way or using a form similar in substance to the W-9. Also, the payer may request the information on a different form.

If I refuse to provide the information, can the school refuse to pay me? If you do not wish to provide the information to the payer, they cannot refuse to pay you. However, they may refuse to allow you to officiate the game, or they may not allow you to return for future games, until you have provided the requested information. Additionally, the IRS requires the payer to withhold 28 percent of the amount being paid from individuals who do not provide the requested information. And if you are thinking you can just make up a Social Security number, you can be fined as much as $500.

Why do I have to fill out a separate form for each school/conference/supervisor? Since each payer is responsible for providing the IRS with information returns, you may have to provide the information to multiple payers depending on how you get paid.

How can I be sure that my personal information is kept private? Unfortunately, you don't always have control over how your personal information is handled. The best option is to always monitor who gets your information. I started carrying copies of W-9s with me so I didn't have to complete the forms some schools require. Also, you can make sure that you are giving the forms to someone who will place them in a secure location. Finally, if you suspect your personal information may not be handled properly, speak with the location administrator.

If you have any other questions about Form W-9 or backup withholding, consult a CPA or other qualified income tax specialist.

Reproduced from an article By Keith Vincent in the Referee January, 2017