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How to automatically collect W-9s from contract workers

By Katie Young · May 17, 2021
The QuickBooks Online and Gmail logos, connected by a line of orange dots.

Contract workers are an awesome resource to have. They're great for filling skill-set gaps on your team and assisting with part-time or flexible workloads at your business. Using contract workers also gives you access to global talent.

Although they offer tremendous flexibility without the high cost of hiring in-house, you're still required to keep track of your external workforce. Part of this responsibility involves requesting a W-9 form from each contractor so that you can issue 1099s at the end of the fiscal year. 

This task can be cumbersome to oversee, especially if you're working with several contractors/vendors at once. This is especially true if your business model requires that you work with new contractors every month. W-9 collection can become a full-time job!

If you know that you need to cut down on the time you spend on administrative work related to contract workers, but have no clue where to begin, you've come to the right place. 

Here's how to set up our ultra time-saving W-9 Collection Zap for yourself.

Avoid W-9 woes and automate with Zapier

The Founder & CEO of Satterley Training & Consulting, Heather Satterley, is a lover of all things Zapier. If there's a process in our firm that can be automated, you can bet she's built a Zap for it. So when she realized the process for collecting W-9s from vendors could be automated, she turned to Zapier to create our W-9 Collection Zap. This Zap automatically emails a blank W-9 form to all of our service vendors when they are added to our QuickBooks Online company. No more chasing vendors when it's time to prepare our 1099s. It's a truly amazing time-saver that you can easily implement in your own business. 

How to set up your W-9 collection Zap




Trigger: QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online

Choose event New vendor

Action: Filter

Filter by Zapier

Only continue if... Vendor 1099 is (Boolean) is true

Action: Gmail


Send email: Select account and format body of email (include link to Sharefile folder)

Prep work: Set up QuickBooks Online

Our Zap will start when something happens in QuickBooks Online. Before we head into Zapier and begin creating our Zap, we first need to log into our QuickBooks Online account and make sure we have data we'll use for testing. 

Once you're logged in, you'll want to add a new vendor.

"New vendor" button

This next step sets the parameters for the entire Zap. After you select New Vendor and enter your test vendor's information into the fields, you need to make sure that the box next to Track payments for 1099 is checked. Checking this box tells you that you need to get a W-9 from that particular vendor. Hit Save. Now we can start creating our Zap!

Vendor information set-up with checkbox for "Track payments for 1099"

Trigger step: QuickBooks Online, new vendor

Once you're signed into Zapier and you click Make a Zap, you'll be prompted to set your trigger app and event. As previously mentioned, we already know that QuickBooks Online is the app that starts our Zap, so do a quick search and select QuickBooks Online.

Search result for "Quickbooks Online" within trigger set-up page, under App Event.

Note: To set up a Zap using QuickBooks Online, you must either have a paid Zapier account or be in your two-week trial.

Now, we'll choose our trigger event. This is what actually starts the Zap. For the W-9 Collection Zap, we want the automated workflow sequence to begin any time a new vendor is added. Select New Vendor and then click Continue.

Trigger event: New Vendor

NOTE: If you haven't connected your QuickBooks Online account to Zapier yet, you'll need to get that set up before you move onto the next step. It's super simple! Here's a quick rundown of the set up process:

Select Manage connected accounts on the screen where you're setting up your trigger.

Select "Manage connected accounts"

Use the search box to find QuickBooks Online. The app will appear under Add new connection. Click Connect.

Click "Connect" in the bottom right corner after searching for "Quickbooks Online"

You'll then be guided through the process of authorizing Zapier to access your QuickBooks Online account. No need to worry, it's super secure. In fact, after building this Zap you'll probably start recognizing other QBO processes you can automate to save yourself some valuable time. 

For each app you connect, Zapier will ask for a general set of permissions which allows you to be flexible with your Zaps. The only actions Zapier takes on your app accounts are those a given Zap needs to accomplish what you've set up.

Now, you'll have to choose which QuickBooks Online account you'd like to connect Zapier to for this particular workflow. Select the appropriate account and click Continue.

Choose Quickbooks Online account

Your trigger is now all set! Let's test it to confirm that the right account is connected and everything is configured properly.

"Test trigger" button

Add a Filter

Zapier offers built-in tools that help you supercharge your Zaps by refining specific data. For our W-9 Collection Zap, we're going to use the Filter by Zapier app. This app will allow us to set a filter to see if the Track payments for 1099 box is checked when a new vendor is created in QuickBooks Online. Once the filter is set, Zapier will only run the Zap if the condition is true..

In the Action step, we're going to select Filter by Zapier. Click Continue.

Choose app: Filter by Zapier

Since not all of our vendors are service vendors, we have to tell Zapier "Hey! Only complete the Action if I check the Track payments for 1099 box in QuickBooks Online." 

Let's set the conditions:

In the setup and testing area, under Only continue if… click in the Choose field box and select Vendor1099 (the QuickBooks logo next to it means this is information Zapier found in your trigger step). Under Choose condition select (Boolean) Is true. This means the Zap will only continue if the Vendor 1099 checkbox is checked in QuickBooks Online.

Filter set-up: Only continue if: "Vendor1099" "(Boolean) is true"

Add your Gmail action

Now that we have our filter conditions set, we can start working on the main action in this workflow, which is to create an email in Gmail. The email will automatically be sent to the vendor with a blank W-9 attached to it, along with a link to upload the completed W-9 to a folder in our Sharefile account. 

Select Gmail as your action app. Then, select Send Email as the action event. This is what Zapier will do every time this Zap runs. Click Continue.

Action event: Send Email

Select the Gmail account that you want the email to send from. Click Continue.

Gmail account: Choose an account

NOTE: If you haven't connected your Gmail account to Zapier yet, you'll need to get that set up before you move onto the next step. The process is easy and very similar to the QuickBooks Online account setup we described earlier. Click Manage connected accounts > Search for and select Gmail > Click Connect > Authorize Zapier to access your Gmail account. That's it!

After you choose your Gmail account, you'll create the email that will be sent to your vendors. 

For the To email address, you'll want to choose the email field from your QuickBooks step. Like in the Filter step, you'll click in the box then select from a list of options. For the From email address, you'll type in the address you'd like the email to come from. You'll also type in your own Subject line, which could be something like "Please upload a completed W-9." 

For the email body type, you can choose Plain, which will just produce raw text for your email (but this means no hyperlinks, which we need for this specific automation). We'll instead choose HTML. If you don't know HTML, don't worry. We have a resource for you: wordhtml.com. It converts text to HTML and it's totally free! Here's how it works:

Go to wordhtml.com and enter your email content into the Word Editor.

WordHTML Word Editor

Click HTML and bam! Your email content is converted to html format almost effortlessly! Copy and paste the html content into the email body section on Zapier.

WordHTML example

You'll want to attach a W-9 to the email itself. We recommend downloading this from the IRS, and checking occasionally to be sure you have the most recent version. You can find the link on this IRS page.

Grab the W-9 URL from IRS.gov and insert it into the attachments

Run a test to make sure everything looks the way it should. When you test your Zap, an email will be sent to the email you've used in your test data. You'll want to be sure that it's going to you or a team member, so you can confirm everything looks good.

Test email

If you're happy with how it looks, you're ready to begin using your Zap! From that point forward, every time you add a new vendor with the 1099 checkbox marked in QuickBooks Online, Zapier will send this email for you from Gmail—with no action required on your part.

Let Zapier do the work for you

This has saved us tons of time because we don't have to remember to reach out to the vendor and manually request a form W-9 from them. Pretty cool stuff.

This was a guest post from Katie Young, Operations Director at Satterley Training & Consulting. Satterley Training & Consulting helps businesses define, design, and automate their processes by employing innovative strategy and cloud-based technology. Learn more about their classes and training. Want to see your work on the Zapier blog? Check out our guidelines and get in touch.

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