How Can I Avoid 1099 Compliance Penalties With W9 Gig Workers?


It’s certainly liberating to be an entrepreneur, but freedom brings elevated responsibilities – as well as more work. A new business owner can easily be overwhelmed by arcane and convoluted tax laws. If you use W9 independent contractors, staying in full 1099 compliance on your own may be nearly impossible. Unfortunately, the penalties can be severe, even for relatively simple mistakes. 

What is a 1099 form?

The purpose of a W9 form is to request a taxpayer ID number. You may need it for issuing dividends, canceling debt, or paying someone for services they provide. Its most common use is to identify independent contractors you’ve used to the IRS.

How much can penalties cost?

We’re not talking pennies here. If you hire contractors and fail to issue the forms on time, fines can range up to $270 per return – with a potential maximum of over $3 million! And that’s just for accidents! Intentional misreporting has no maximum fine. 

Entrepreneurs are business owners. You’re expected to fully comply with tax laws – or hire someone who can do it for you. There’s a mountain of tax forms to prepare, and records are easy to lose. The IRS will work with businesses and individuals in accidental cases, but they tend to have less sympathy for businesses – especially if they think you should have known better. 

What is 1099 compliance?

There are almost two dozen different 1099 forms – with no overlap – that the IRS uses. You’re required to send the proper forms by a given date if you pay someone at least $600 in any given tax year. Navigating the reporting requirements can be a nightmare if you do it by hand. 

Plus, the law changes frequently. For instance, you still use the 1099-MISC to report physical products or goods you paid a contractor for, as well as services paid to an S or C corporation. The 1099-NEC was reintroduced in 2020 because non-employment compensation filing is required by January 31st (just like employee W2s), whereas miscellaneous income has later deadlines. Businesses that use W9 workers are usually required to file a 1099-NEC for each of them. However, you may also have to issue other tax forms. 

What is non-employment compensation?

Payment generally must meet four conditions to be nonemployment compensation

  • The payment was to someone not employed by you
  • The payment was for services you used for your trade or business
  • The payment was to an individual, partnership, estate, or, in some cases, a corporation
  • The payment was at least $600 during the tax year

These payments include fees, commissions, bonuses, awards, and other forms of compensation. Most of the work done by a freelancer or gig worker falls into this category, while most services provided by a corporation will not. However, there are (as usual) exceptions either way, and it can take hours of research to find obscure rules. That’s why accountants make so much money.

How can Gig Wage help me stay in compliance?

An explosive macroeconomic shift towards a gig-based economy is happening. Within ten years, over half the world is expected to be self-employed. This creates the perfect opportunity for advanced technology to step in and fill the void. We looked at what was available and realized there was so much more we could do. For instance, our unique algorithm can help eliminate 1099 penalties caused by human errors.

Freelancers and small business owners stay entirely in compliance by keeping good records. That’s as easy as a few mouse clicks with cutting-edge software that hybridizes the three major verticals: 

  1. Payroll 
  2. Payments 
  3. Banking 

By combining all three in a single software solution, you’ll have all your payment and tax info at your fingertips. Gig Wage stores everything in a secure cloud account that meets or exceeds financial institutions' privacy and digital safety requirements. There’s no fumbling with antiquated spreadsheets, no paper records to lose, and no missed payments. 

How do I use Gig Wage's software?

With our out-of-the-box software, small businesses can get set up in minutes. The process is streamlined for seamless accounting and allows your independent contractors to quickly and securely onboard. The highly intuitive interface helps you efficiently manage all the information you need.

If time is your most valuable resource, you’re going to love us. Our custom dashboard also integrates all 1099 payroll needs in one place:

  • Automatic payments to any number of contractors
  • Real-time payment tracking and full transparency
  • Full 1099 compliance for W9 workers and businesses that pay them

Create a free account and follow the simple directions on your dashboard. Even a new business owner can begin paying independent contractors right away. The system will invite each freelancer you use to onboard, help them generate their W9, and set up either a direct deposit or the Gig Wage Payment Card.

Our system is designed to evolve with the market's changing needs and take advantage of our fast and flexible core software. We’ve developed the most advanced API in the industry, so you don’t have to. Without writing any code, you can white label our services or pay as many contractors as you wish. You can also pay in batches. Plus, among many other concepts we're developing, we’re excited about two payment options that are coming: cash and cryptocurrencies. 

All this dramatically decreases your workload and helps keep your gig workers happy. Freelancers love our user-friendly dashboard, fast payments, and automated tax forms. Since at least 90% of U.S. taxpayers file electronically, our digital 1099s fit their tax software and increase the cool factor, helping you retain the talent you want to work with. 

Simplicity and reliability are the cornerstones of modern 1099 compliance. Everything possible should be automated using secure servers and dedicated technology. Gig Wage is changing the future of freelancing, and the competitive advantage is like switching from a horse and buggy to a supersonic jet.

Written by

Erin Lee