Do you know the difference between a W8 and W9 Form?

W-9 tax form as a business concept with pen, calculator and sticker

Do you know the difference between a W8 and W9 Form?

There is no argument about it, no one likes bureaucracy, and no one likes paying taxes, but just like many things in life, we have to do it. Failing to do so will eventually leave you with a big headache when trying to sort it out. 

Let us help you figure out which form is relevant for you with a short introduction about each form, a few tips, and references. If you are a U.S. citizen– even living outside of the U.S.– you need to report your income to the IRS and pay taxes. If you are a non-U.S. citizen living and earning income in the U.S., you will also need to report your earnings and pay taxes.


Two of the forms you may need to fill out are the W8 and W9 forms. You must fill in the correct form and ensure it is done accurately.


First, you’ll need to decide which forms to fill in. Figuring it out is relatively straightforward. The W8 is intended for all people who are not U.S. citizens or residents who work in the U.S. or earn income in the U.S. You may be asked to fill it out by your bank or other financial institutions to confirm that you are not a U.S. citizen. There are various W8 forms. We have a helpful explanation of these here. When filling out this form, you must declare your country of residency in Part 2. Fill in your active Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) in Part 1, line 5. From our experience, the form should be pretty straightforward, and employing an accountant to help complete it is not necessary.


The W9 form is intended for those people who are U.S. citizens with a social security number or someone who has applied for a social security number but has not yet received it. It is the only form you can fill out to identify yourself. You may be asked to fill this out when opening a bank account, pension fund, or investment fund to declare that you are a U.S. citizen. The W9 is also intended for use by corporations, U.S. LLCs, U.S. trusts, and partnerships, even if the owners, partners, or beneficiaries are not U.S. citizens. The form is pretty simple to fill out, and once again, you should not need an accountant to help you complete it. The only complication is for those who do not have a social security number but have applied for it. When asked for their social security number, they should write “applied for” in the box. You can find more information about the W9 form here.


Let us reassure you that you should not be surprised if you are asked to fill one of these forms out as they are standard practice. If you have any questions or to find out whether you may have any other U.S. filing requirements that call for your attention, please feel free to contact one of our advisors, who will be happy to assist you. 

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