W4 vs W2 vs W9 vs 1099 Tax Forms: What Are the Differences?

While the W4 vs W2 vs W9 vs 1099 are all tax forms, they serve very different purposes. Here’s a broad strokes comparison of the multiple forms.

Which Form Do I Need?

The form you use depends on if you are a long term employee of a company, or one being contracted short term for a specific task or service.

As a worker, it’s important to understand when you are an employee and when you are a contractor.

Employee vs Independent Contractor:

As an employee, you have an employer who is responsible for taking taxes from your wages and paying them to the IRS on your behalf

Have assigned hours and a set schedule Get company training


Will not be tied down to certain working hours Do not always have to be onsite Will not need company training

Independent Contractor


Understanding the W4 vs W2 vs W9 vs 1099 forms is important for both employers and employees come tax time. It’s also worthwhile for both to consider which makes the most sense for them to pursue in regards to their companies.

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