What To Do When a Vendor Doesn’t Submit a W-9

What To Do When a Vendor Doesn’t Submit a W-9

Vendor onboarding best practice includes getting a vendor’s tax identification number and classification on a W-9 or equivalent W-9 upfront with other vendor information. But what do you do if the vendor fails to give you that information? You’re going to need it.

Ask Again

Here are steps to take. The first is to ask the vendor again. Be sure to send a copy of the W-9–it’s part of your responsibility, even though the vendor can easily download the form from https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw9.pdf. Document your solicitations so you can prove your attempts to the IRS. Let the vendor know in your W-9 solicitation that you will have to withhold 24 percent (currently) and remit to the IRS unless the vendor provides a valid tax identification number. Refer them here: https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc307. That should motivate them to comply.

A few bad-faith vendors out there might avoid responding, or they may reply with inaccurate information. Whether you use it directly or have a third party do it for you, the IRS TIN Match program will determine whether the vendor’s TIN is valid. Using TIN Match, you can uncover incorrect TINs before 1099 filing rather than when the IRS sends you a CP2100.  Note that you can also find an EIN (employer identification number) from public records of business registrations in most states. However, that will not work for the social security numbers of sole proprietors.


If the vendor will not comply, but you have not paid them yet, backup-withhold 24 percent from the payment. According to gross-up rules, if you pay the vendor the total amount due without withholding, you may be liable for an additional 24 percent owed to the IRS. You do not want to be paying your vendor’s taxes. Withhold 24 percent and remit that to the IRS on the annual Form 945.


At 1099 time, complete the 1099 and leave the tax ID slot blank or enter 000000000. The IRS will send you a CP2100 and possibly a proposed penalty notice 972CG. But if you have taken the above steps, you are protected. Per the CP2100, you will have to issue a B-notice to the vendor and begin or continue backup withholding. But documentation of your efforts to obtain a valid TIN will allow you to avoid a penalty. If you have backup withheld and remitted, you won’t face a penalty.

For more information, see IRS Publication 1281. Backup withholding is an additional administrative burden for your company. It’s not something you want to have to do. But it’s the law, and it beats paying penalties.

Find Another Vendor

There is one more thing you can do if a vendor will not provide a W-9. Find another vendor. There are other vendors out there who would love to have your business who will do business legally.

Make It Possible

It can be tough to follow these steps if your procure-to-pay (P2P) process is not optimized and consistent across your organization and has no vendor onboarding process. Organizations that have re-engineered and rationalized their P2P process gain efficiency and better overall performance. This includes having clear policies for vendor onboarding, which takes place up front after vendor selection rather than after purchase and invoicing.

If the first time your accounts payable department learns of a new vendor is upon receiving an invoice, they are already behind. Nevertheless, the first step should be to ask for a W-9. Requiring a W-9 before payment is the best leverage AP has with the vendor. If payment “must” be made, still pursue the steps outlined above. But then consider, as an organization, whether the vendor in question is worth it.

For help automating vendor onboarding, including getting W-9s and automatic TIN validations, contact us.

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InvoiceInfo and VendorInfo are simple solutions with big results. They are easy to implement and easy to use. Here’s how one customer described the process: “You give vendors a URL, provide instructions about what they need to know and tell them to go use it.” It really is that easy.


Improve Productivity with a Self-Service Solution

For most organizations, deploying a technology solution is a significant investment, and like most investments, the decision point ultimately comes down to the expected return on that investment.

According to a recent benchmark study by The Accounts Payable Network, 60% of AP customer service calls are from vendors while 40% are from internal customers. Vendor issues actually make up even more of the AP call volume than the 60% identified. Many times when a vendor has an issue, the vendor contacts their buyer or purchasing representative, who in turn contacts AP. Even though the call comes from an internal customer, the question originated with the vendor.

Vendor calls affect productivity in your organization exponentially. When vendors call the requisitioner, they are affecting that person’s productivity. Your internal customer’s productivity shrinks when fielding the vendor’s call and again when making the follow up call to AP and getting back to the vendor. Finally, AP’s productivity suffers as a result of the internal customer’s call, the payment status research and the follow-up communication.

With a minimal investment of IT time and talent, you can start reducing customer service calls and expense in a matter of weeks. In addition, you improve vendor relations since you are giving your vendors what they want — answers to their questions immediately — a win-win for everyone involved!


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InvoiceInfo can help you provide best-in-class customer service to your vendors around the world at a fraction of the cost.

Many organizations today have offices and operations throughout the world and are dealing with many time zones, different languages, and in some cases multiple ERP systems. InvoiceInfo currently supports different languages and can easily work with multiple ERP systems in different locations.

The key to good customer service is to provide the information that the customer wants when they want it. Whether your customer is a vendor waiting for a payment or a colleague that needs information on payment status, they want their information right away. If your organization has vendors and offices in other countries, they can be challenging and expensive to serve. But, with InvoiceInfo, your international vendors and internal customers can access the information they need when they need it.

With InvoiceInfo, you won’t have to staff your customer service team with 24-hour coverage in multiple languages to provide high-quality customer service around the world.


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Learn how InvoiceInfo can help AP do more with less while continuously improving productivity and bottom-line results.

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Enhance Vendor Relationships

InvoiceInfo helps suppliers’ AR departments with simple and convenient access to invoice payment status online at a cost savings for all involved.

It may seem that the organization paying the vendor should hold all the cards in the relationship. But sometimes the opposite is true. Past-due payments and customer service perceptions can harm supplier relationships and disrupt the supply chain.

Your vendors and vendor relationship managers are living in a dynamic, fast-paced environment, so when invoice information is required, it is needed quickly and expected to be of high quality. With InvoiceInfo, your suppliers get answers to invoice inquiries real time, 24/7 with no need to leave messages and wait for responses. Studies show that confidence in data increases when suppliers access invoice and payment information themselves.


Give Procurement and Buyers the Tool They
Need to Respond to Vendors Quickly

Not only can InvoiceInfo be used by suppliers to learn the status of invoice payments, it can also be used internally within your organization.

In addition to reducing calls from vendors regarding invoice status, you can also reduce internal emails and calls from co-workers wanting to learn the status of invoice payment, and save time and effort and boost efficiency and productivity across the organization. Studies show that 40% of AP customer service calls are from internal customers. Many of these are from requisitioners who have received calls or emails from the supplier checking on payment status. These calls are often more expensive for the company because the internal staff member has taken the call or received an email from the supplier, contacted AP for the payment status and had to return the call or email the supplier.

By providing the vendor with a convenient and credible online option to get the answers it needs regarding payment status, you can eliminate multiple calls/emails between the vendor and the requisitioner saving time and money.


Eliminate Difficult Vendor Calls and See
Productivity and Staff Morale Soar

Reduce invoice payment inquiries and “promote” your vendor service team to more satisfying and profit-producing tasks.

By sharply reducing inbound calls and emails regarding receipt and payment status that your AP staff must handle individually, your staff can focus their efforts on more productive, cost-saving activities, learn new tasks, feel more confident and boost their careers.

According to a recent American Express survey on customer service, more than one-third of consumers have lost their temper with a customer service professional in the past year. Of those who lost their temper, three in ten “hung up the phone.” Your staff will no longer have to deal with difficult collectors who can be upsetting and disruptive. Your staff will feel that their time and talents are being put to better use and will feel better about themselves, their jobs and their organization. Reducing these calls can be a real productivity and morale booster for your AP department!


Simplify and Streamline Vendor Onboarding

According to Price Waterhouse Coopers, the average organization spends about $20 in labor to file each paper document, approximately $120 in labor searching for each misfiled document and $220 in re-creation of a document.

Wouldn’t it be great to have all your W-9’s, W-8’s and other registration documents completed online and instantly filed online for easy access when needed? With Vendor Self-Service Onboarding Module, VendorInfo, you can onboard your new vendors in one convenient location and eliminate paperwork and hassles.


Verify the Accuracy of Vendor Information and Stay in Compliance with IRS and Treasury Department Regulations

Government regulators are increasing the complexity of regulations and penalties associated with vendor-related non-compliance.

Penalties for incorrect 1099’s have more than doubled in recent years. Over the last several years, OFAC has levied more than $1 billion in fines against American companies or subsidiaries that did business with restricted businesses, organizations and individuals on its SDN list. In addition to fining these companies, the Treasury Department posts the names of infringing organizations along with fines paid.

VendorInfo Onboarding Module verifies the accuracy of vendor information and helps protect your organization by avoiding embarrassing penalties and fines.

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