My significant other purchased a spa day-pass from one of those deal-a-day sites (similar to Groupon, but done locally). The spa wouldn't accept the day-pass, so she's trying to get a refund from the deal-a-day site. They are requesting she fill out a W-9 before they refund any money. Their explanation is their parent company requires a W-9 before cutting any check. This doesn't sound appropriate, especially giving them her SSN for a mere refund.

Two questions -

  1. Should a company require a W9 when you haven't done any work for them? I searched their site's terms and conditions and it doesn't list anything about a W9 required for refund.

  2. If we do give them a W9, is that automatically going to cause us to report that as earned income in this years taxes?


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    I'd call the credit card company and consider it a fraudulent charge, if it simply wasn't honored. – JTP - Apologise to Monica Aug 31 '12 at 19:11
  • Didn't think about that. Not sure if it matters, but we've already paid that month's balance off. Worth a phone call, at least. – jas Aug 31 '12 at 19:37
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    It doesn't matter that you've paid that month's balance off, you can still dispute it (I think you can dispute within 60 days of the transaction, check with your credit card service) – littleadv Aug 31 '12 at 19:59
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    @fennec Having credit card company sending them a charge-back letter makes wonders to the dispute resolution. They get hefty fines and penalties (including rate increases) based on the amount of charge-backs against them. So once the CC company is involved, they're usually much more willing to resolve the dispute before the CC company makes the decision, than before the CC company involvement. – littleadv Aug 31 '12 at 20:41
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    I've resolved these kinds of disputes with the CC company with very little hassle in the past. – Sean W. Aug 31 '12 at 21:38

W9 is required for any payments.

However, in your case - these are not payments, but refunds, i.e.: you're not receiving any income from the company that is subject to tax or withholding rules, you're receiving money that is yours already.

I do not think they have a right to demand W9 as a condition of refund, and as Joe suggested - would dispute the charge as fraudulent.

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    Also, if you paid with a credit card, they don't have to 'cut you a check'. They just need to refund the charge and any processor will allow them to do that within 90 days. – Michael Pryor Sep 6 '12 at 18:18

Form W-9 (officially, the "Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification") is used in the United States income tax system by a third party who must file an information return with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It requests the name, address, and taxpayer identification information of a taxpayer (in the form of a Social Security Number or Employer Identification Number).

A W-9 is typically required when an individual is doing work, as a contractor or as an employee, for a company and will be paid more than $600 in a tax-year. The company is required to file a W-2 or a 1099 and so requests a W-9 to get the information necessary for those forms.

I cannot say if it is incompetence on the part of the accounting department or a deliberate ploy to make the refund process more onerous, but do not comply. Politely nsist on a refund without any further information. If the company refuses, request a charge-back from the credit-card company, file a complaint with the consumer-protection department of the state where the company is located, and write a bad review on Yelp or wherever else seems appropriate.

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  • Employee requires W-4 not W-9. W-9 is used for contractor as you say, and many other 109X-reportable (or 5498) things such as bank, broker and mutual-fund accounts (including IRA HSA 529 etc), real estate sales, home mortgages, college tuition, payment cards and networks (merchant/seller-side), gambling winnings (with some exclusions), lawsuit settlement (some might consider this the same as the previous <G>), etc. But not a refund of a purchase. – dave_thompson_085 Nov 29 '19 at 8:35

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