Taxpayer Identification Number Form (W9) Requirement

This policy formalizes the existing requirement for U.S. vendors doing business with the University to provide a completed and signed form W-9 to Vendor Management. Vendor types include Individual/Sole proprietors, Corporations, Partnerships, Limited Liability Corporations, and Others specified by the IRS. This form must be received before payment will be issued to such entities.

This policy ensures that the University has on file an accurate certification from vendors regarding their U.S. legal name and address, incorporation status, and taxpayer identification number. This information is required by the IRS determining the eligibility of certain vendors for annual income tax reporting via Form 1099. The integrity and accuracy of our vendor file is based upon the receipt of a completed and signed W-9 form from each vendor and serves as the data source for annual tax form issuance.


This policy helps the University with its compliance with IRS regulations concerning the issuance and accuracy of annual tax statements to vendors. Additionally, two purposes are served:

  1. IRS reporting requirements are facilitated. Certain types of payments made to vendors must be reported to the IRS. Having a signed W-9 on file allows the University to report the correct combination of Tax Identification Number (TIN) and name, thus avoiding IRS penalties.
  2. Evidence of validity is documented. Having a signed W-9 on file is considered evidence that the payee is a valid individual or business. This helps the University to avoid making inappropriate payments to fraudulent entities.


This policy primarily responds to the regulations of the IRS, which governs the taxation and reporting responsibilities of U.S. based entities. On an annual basis, the University must issue 1099 tax statements to all eligible vendors regarding the income they received from Columbia. The University must also electronically transmit a file to the IRS with accurate data pertaining to those vendors including Name, Address, Tax Identification Number and Gross Income.


All Columbia University employees and departments that seek to do business with a U.S. based individual/sole proprietor, corporation, partnership, LLC, or other entity specified by the IRS. All U.S. based entities doing business with Columbia University.


  • Senior Financial or Business Officers
  • Chairs of Departments, Directors of Institutes and Centers
  • Department Administrators
  • Divisional Administrators with financial responsibility and oversight
  • Program Directors
  • Faculty
  • Junior Officers and Non-Officers with financial responsibility and oversight
  • Administrative staff with Accounts Payable responsibility


A W-9 form is not required for the following:

  • Employees of the University including students receiving expense reimbursement
  • Nonresident Aliens or Foreign Entities
  • Petty cash reimbursements
  • Patient Refunds to Individuals


The W-9 form can be downloaded from the IRS website at Detailed instructions for the requester of the W-9 form can found on the IRS website at The information on page 1 must be completed and signed by the vendor.

More information on the Vendor Management process can be obtained by visiting:

All U.S. based entities doing business with Columbia University must have a completed and signed W-9 form on file with Accounts Payable. These entities include Individual/Sole Proprietor, Corporations, Partnerships, Limited Liability Corporations, and others specified by the IRS. The W-9 form must be received prior to any payment for goods and/or services. The only exceptions where a W-9 is not required are for University employees including students receiving expense reimbursements, nonresident aliens / foreign entities, patient refunds, and petty cash reimbursements.

Depending upon the nature of the payment and the incorporation status of the vendor, the University may issue a form 1099 at the end of the calendar year in which the payment was made. Additionally, the IRS requires the University to transmit an electronic file annually that details all taxable vendor payments made during that calendar year.

Signatures included on a submitted W-9 can be either manually signed by hand using a permanent inked pen or signed using electronic signature. The electronic signature must identify the payee or vendor submitting the electronic form and must authenticate and verify the submission.

Below is an example of an IRS-compliant, digitally encrypted signature created using Adobe Acrobat.

Example of an Adobe digital signature from "Samual Johnson" that also says "Digitally signed by Samual Johnson Date: 2023.04.25 10:30:38 -04'00'"


Please contact our Finance Service Center for W-9, 1099 inquiries, other information at (212) 854-2122 or visit the Finance Service Center website.