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June 1, 2012

Time to sign your W-9

by: Kevin R. Dean

Last updated on 6/6/12

For the many people and businesses hurt by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the settlements reached with BP that the court has preliminarily approved will provide much-needed relief for economic loss, property damages and/or physical injuries caused by the spill. So why the worry? You guessed it—paperwork. Very few people enjoy paperwork, even something as minor as a grocery list. But you have to admit—that grocery list comes in handy if you want to remember the burger that goes with the bun. Paperwork can be your friend.

The claims program under the Economic and Property Damages Settlement (formally called the Deepwater Horizon Court-Supervised Settlement Program) replaced the GCCF and began accepting claims on Monday, June 4, 2012. Patrick Juneau, the new court-appointed Claims Administrator for the Settlement Program, also began a four-state tour of 18 claimant assistance centers on Monday to personally meet with the vendors processing claims and to spread the message to claimants that the new claims process has been created to help them. Read more about the Claims Administrator’s tour.

Whether you are a lawyer or CPA handling the claims filing process for a client or you are a claimant handling your own claim(s), the information below might be helpful if you have questions about why Form W-9 is required documentation.

  • What is Form W-9? Form W-9 is an official document that the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issues for certain tax purposes. You may have received Form W-9 if you or your business were hired as an independent contractor to provide services to another company.
  • What is the purpose of Form W-9? Form W-9 is used to collect basic (but important) information about an independent contractor, including its name, address and social security number/taxpayer identification number. The form helps produce Form 1099, which documents the earnings that the independent contractor received that tax year.
  • Why is a W-9 important? By submitting Form W-9, you ensure that your Tax Identification Number is correct and that you do not have any outstanding taxes. Unlike Forms W-2 and W-4, Form W-9 does not automatically withhold taxes and social security payments. This form is a way to maintain checks and balances, ensuring that independent contractors are reporting their full income.
  • Does everyone submitting a claim to the Settlement Program have to include Form W-9 in their documentation? Yes, Form W-9 is for everyone, both individuals and businesses, and is required to be submitted will all claims so that the Court Settlement Facility properly reports your loss income claim, which is taxable.
  • The GCCF did not require a W-9 Form. If I submitted claims to the GCCF (and did not sign a release), do I still need to submit Form W-9? Yes. If you previously submitted documents to the GCCF, those claims submissions, papers and forms will be transferred to the new Settlement Program, but you will need to make sure that you also send a W-9 form since it was not previously required.
  • Where can I get Form W-9? View Form W-9 and instructions about how to complete it.

Form W-9 is the burger that goes with the bun, the milk that goes with the cereal on your grocery list. And it’s easy to fill out! If you have one or more eligible claims in connection with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, be sure to include Form W-9 in the documents you submit. The sooner you submit your complete claim, the sooner you will be paid if your claim is approved.