I have a side project, which is a subscription website. This one: http://slotted.co
A potential customer is asking for me to send him a W-9 IRS form.
Besides be slightly annoyed he's is asking me to provide a form for a $50 subscription or two, I'm wondering: a) is this common, and b) is there any downside, such as increased scrutiny by the Feds?
While the request isn't unusual when doing actual work for another party, it seems odd coming from a subscriber. I've never asked for a W-9 for any of the sites to which I pay a subscription fee however, your subscriber may just be covering his/her bases with the IRS if they plan on paying more than $600/year for your subscription. If they've been audited by the IRS, they may want to be able to substantiate who exactly they paid and that means they may send you a 1099-MISC for 2017.
Mr. Gezelter is absolutely correct that you shouldn’t give out your social security number. If you’re a sole proprietor (you complete a Schedule C when doing your taxes) and don’t have an Employer ID Number (EIN), you should get one even if you only use it for situations such as this. You can get an EIN online, for free, directly from the IRS at https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/apply-for-an-employer-identification-number-ein-online , you don’t need to go through any other company unless you want to.
It is less about the Feds and more about internal accounting controls.This is not about your $50. It is about the $50,000 expense. It is easier to make blanket policy than to to chase W9 forms at the end of he year. Download a W9, sign it, scan it, and email it Whenever asked. This is small stuff.