Small Business Tips

Everything You Need to Know About Paying Independent Contractors: Best Practices and Tax Reporting

Hannah Rau
March 30, 2023
min read

If you're a business owner, paying an independent contractor is a great way to obtain specialized services or support for projects without the cost of hiring a full-time employee. 

First, however, it is crucial to understand the legal and tax implications when employing an independent contractor. 

Paying an Independent Contractor

To do this, you must correctly classify the worker, establish the terms you will pay the independent contractor, obtain necessary tax identification information, and report non-employee compensation.

This article will explore everything you need to know about paying an independent contractor, including best practices for payment and tax reporting.

We’ll also tell you more about PayStubs, the best payroll solution for workers of all kinds!

What You'll Need: The W9 and 1099-NEC Form 

Suppose you're planning on paying an independent contractor. In that case, you need to ensure access to two particular forms—the W9 Form and the 1099-NEC. 

The W-9 Form collects the contractor's taxpayer identification number (TIN) and other basic identifying information, such as their name and address. 

This information is necessary for tax reporting purposes, as it ensures the contractor can be identified appropriately and linked to their earnings. 

Additionally, you'll be required to file a Form 1099-NEC to report non-employee compensation paid to the independent contractor. This form should be provided to the contractor by January 31st of the year following payment and filed with the IRS. 

We'll go into more detail about each form below. However, properly obtaining and utilizing these tax forms will ensure you comply with tax laws and help your business avoid penalties or fines. 

What is the W9?

The W-9 Form is a mysterious piece of paper with contractors scrambling to find their tax ID number and wondering what is happening. Well, there's nothing to worry about because the W-9 Form is pretty simple. 

Think of it as a way to get to know your contractor better. It's like a first date, but with taxes. You'll get to know their name, address, and tax identification number (TIN). 

The W-9 Form is a crucial piece of documentation for tax reporting purposes. For example, it allows you to accurately report payments to independent contractors. In addition, it ensures the IRS can correctly identify the individual. 

So, don't be intimidated by the W-9—accept it as a necessary step in the tax dating game.

What is the 1099-NEC?

The 1099-NEC Form— in the tax world, that's the cool kid in the tax form world, the one everyone doesn't mind interacting with. 

But why is it so special, you ask? Well, for starters, it's specifically designed to report non-employee compensation. 

That means all those independent contractors you hired to help with your business? You'll report their pay on the 1099-NEC. 

Plus, after 2020, the IRS reformatted the 1099-NEC to make it easy for business owners and contractors to understand.

But don't let this point pass—the 1099-NEC is serious business. 

It's a crucial piece of documentation for tax reporting purposes. You must file it with the IRS and provide it to the contractor by January 31st of the year following payment.

So, embrace the cool kid of the tax form world and file your 1099-NEC with confidence.

How Do I Pay Contractors?

When you hire an independent contractor, their contract must stipulate payment terms. This must be upfront and in writing. 

Things your contract should include are: 

  • The payment rate
  • Schedule
  • Any additional expenses that your business will cover for the contractor
  • Scheduling or hours
  • Dedicated budgets
  • The assigned tasks

You can make your actual payment to the contractors through a variety of methods. 

This includes checks, direct deposit, or electronic payment systems. It's also important to keep accurate records of all payments made to independent contractors. 

That way, your business can avoid disputes with contractors and ensure compliance with tax laws.

Paying the IRS

Paying the IRS? Sounds like the last thing many want to have on their to-do list 

But don't worry, it's not all bad. Instead, think of it as a necessary evil—you might dread it, but in the end, it's for your own good. 

First things first, gather all your paperwork, brew a cup of coffee, and put on some motivational tunes. Then, take a deep breath and start crunching those numbers. 

You may need to log in or contact the IRS or your accountant to know how much you owe before making the payment. Once you find out the correct amount due, you can pay online or mail it in. 

It may be worth visiting the IRS website to follow the exact instructions. 

By following the proper procedures and seeking professional advice, you can be confident that your payments are accurate and timely. 

Embrace the process, pay your dues, and who knows - you might even discover a newfound love for spreadsheets and calculators.

How Can Pay Stubs Help?

Throwing out those old pay stubs? Don't! 

Pay stubs are a crucial tool for both employers and employees. Business owners must provide a detailed record of wages paid to each employee, including tax withholdings and any deductions. Usually, you'll need to keep them for at least three years.

Our payroll solution makes it easier than ever to create these detailed records. Try PayStubs today!

You can use this information for tax reporting and compliance purposes and for tracking employee compensation over time.

The power of pay stubs

For employees, pay stubs provide a transparent breakdown of their earnings and deductions. In addition, they help them understand their take-home pay and identify any errors or discrepancies.  

They also serve as a record of employment and income. In addition, you can use them when applying for a loan, completing a rental agreement, and facilitating other financial transactions. 

Employers can foster trust and transparency and ensure compliance with labor laws and tax regulations by providing accurate and detailed pay stubs to employees. 

So, don't underestimate the power of the humble pay stub - it's a small piece of paper that can make a big difference.


In summary, proper documentation, accurate record-keeping, and adherence to tax laws are crucial when paying independent contractors and the IRS. 

Additionally, pay stubs provide transparency and accuracy for employers and employees, vital in tracking compensation and ensuring compliance with labor laws.

Remember to turn to PayStubs if you're looking for an efficient and user-friendly payroll software. Try it today!

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