January is a time of reflection and planning for most of your clients, but for you it's perhaps your busiest month. We feel your pain! With W2’s, quarterlies, sales tax returns, year-end closes and 1099 deadlines it's always a mad dash to the finish line.
A particular area of pain this time of year is discovering you don’t have a complete set of W-9s for some or all of your clients. Without a clear process, you can’t delegate to more junior staff, and confusion and inefficiency can drive you crazy.
To process 1099’s efficiently you need a process to manage the following four tasks:
1. Keeping track of which W-9s are still outstanding for each client
2. Creating a secure, centralized, system to efficiently store the W-9 information
3. Keeping clients on track so they gather and securely send the W-9s needed
4. And most importantly, ensuring this is your last stressful 1099 season ever!
Firms of all sizes can benefit from having a written process that even the most junior staff member can follow. With this in mind, I’m providing my tried-and-true process to help streamline and solve the W-9 challenges. Read on for easy-to-follow advice that will work for firms of all sizes!
Stage 1: Determining which W-9s are outstanding for each client.
Using QBO or QB Desktop, run vendor reports to produce a list of the vendors for each client. By exporting the list to Excel, you can notate which vendors already have a W-9 and which vendors you still need to get one from.
For detailed instructions on determining which W-9s are outstanding, review pages 3-5 in this free step-by-step guide.
Stage 2: Creating a secure, centralized, system to efficiently store the W-9 information
There are a variety of ways to store W-9 information. One great way to store the information for this year (and beyond) is to create a section for 1099 processing in Microsoft’s OneNote. OneNote gives you the ability to organize all the information you need, from summary information including links for corporation look-up and FEIN look-up to individual pages for each vendor, including all notes you need plus images of state verifications.
OneNote will make your process MUCH more efficient. You will be able to search for vendors by name, allowing you to populate information from one client to another that uses the same vendor, saving you (and your clients) extra work.
For detailed instructions on using OneNote to store vendor information, review pages 5-9 in this free step-by-step guide.
Stage 3: Keeping clients on track so they gather and securely send the W-9
The most efficient way to get your clients to gather and securely send you the W-9s needed is to use Liscio’s powerful Tasks feature. With tasks, you will create a “Request Information” task that includes a due date, allows you to mark it urgent, and request the W-9’s need for the client. In fact, Liscio will also allow you to create a template for this task, reducing your efforts on each subsequent request. And lastly, Liscio auto-reminds the client so you don’t have to.
Without a powerful client communication and secure document sharing tool, keeping clients on track is much more difficult. Those methods range from the more traditional (mailing it or dropping it at the office) to the slightly more contemporary (snap a picture and text it). Hopefully, your clients have moved beyond Pony Express!
For detailed instructions on how to do this using various methods including Liscio, review pages 10-11 in this free step-by-step guide.
Stage 4: And most importantly, ensuring this is your last stressful 1099 season ever!
Eliminating the stress of a 1099 season has two components. First, you need to document information on all vendors (existing and new) in QuickBooks, even if you use another tool to prepare 1099s. Adjusting the vendor name to reflect the W-9 status gives you the ability to glance to see if you have the information you need while in QuickBooks.
Then, use the Liscio Task feature every time you run across a new vendor for any of your clients. Simply send a Liscio Information Request. Your clients will receive a reminder every Wednesday until they comply.
If you are not using Liscio, please make sure that you are contacting your clients to send a W-9 for vendors that might need a W-9. Make sure you regularly remind them until they comply.
For detailed instructions on ensuring this is your last stressful 1099 season ever, review pages 12-14 in this free step-by-step guide.
Would you prefer a video walkthrough on how to eliminate W-9 gathering pain?
Download the free step-by-step guide and scroll to page 15. Clicking on the link will allow you to access the Step-by-Step video where I will demonstrate exactly how to navigate through all of the steps and substeps in this process.
That’s all for now! You’ve got this!