*For the majority of information returns, Form 1096 is due February 28 of the year immediately following the tax year. But there are exceptions; for some information returns, Form 1096 can be due as early as January 31 or as late as May 31. For more details on information return deadlines, be sure to review the General Instructions For Certain Information Returns page on IRS.gov.*
Tax season is here—which means it’s time to start gathering all your information for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), figuring out the total number of forms you need to submit (and the due dates for each of those forms), and preparing your tax returns and relevant tax forms for the current tax year.
Preparation is a must for all taxpayers come tax season. But if you own a small business, there are a few additional steps you need to take to get ready for tax season—and, depending on your business, that may include IRS Form 1096.
But what, exactly, is IRS Form 1096? Does your business need to submit Form 1096 to the IRS? And, if so, how do you fill out the form—and when do you need to submit it to the IRS?
What Is IRS Form 1096—and Who Needs to Fill It Out?
IRS Form 1096, formally titled “Annual Summary and Transmittal of U.S. Information Returns,” is a form that’s used to submit information returns reporting nonemployee compensation to the IRS. Nonemployee compensation is any compensation paid to individuals or business entities that are not employees—for example, independent contractors.
There are seven types of information returns that need the be accompanied by a Form 1096 if you’re submitting your paper forms by mail, including:
- Form 1099 (Form 1099-MISC, Form 1099-NEC, etc.)
- Form 1097
- Form 1098
- Form 3921
- Form 3922
- Form 5498
- Form 8935
- Form W-2 G
As a small business owner, you’ll most likely use Form 1096 to submit Form 1099, which is a type of form used to report any income paid to independent contractors in excess of $600 in a calendar year. However, if you are submitting more than one type of return, you’ll need to include a separate Form 1096 with each information return type (for example, you’d use one Form 1096 to submit your 1097s, another to report your 5498s, and another to report your 1099-MISCs).
Keep in mind IRS Form 1096 is only necessary for the mail transmittal of U.S. information returns; if you plan to go the e-file route and file your information returns electronically, you don’t need to worry about attaching Form 1096. Another thing to keep in mind? There’s a limit to how many paper information returns you can file. If you’re submitting more than 250 forms, you’re only option is to file electronically.
How Do I Fill in And Submit Form 1096?
The first step to submitting Form 1096 is getting yourself a copy.
When you submit a paper form to the IRS, they require that the forms are original, scannable documents; you can’t just make a photocopy or print a copy from the internet (including from IRS.gov). If you plan to file Form 1096, you’ll need to order it from the IRS’ Order Forms and Pubs page.
Once you have a paper copy of Form 1096, it’s time to fill it out. After filling out your business’ contact information in the top of the form (including address, contact name, email address, phone number, and fax number), you’ll need to fill out boxes 1 through 6 on the form:
- In box 1, enter your Employer Identification Number (EIN); OR
- If you don’t have an EIN, enter your social security number (SSN) in box 2.
- In box 3, enter the total number of forms you’re attaching to the Form 1096.
- In box 4, enter the total amount of federal income tax withheld from the forms attached to the 1096. If you didn’t withhold any federal income tax (which is often the case with independent contractors and 1099s), just enter “0.”
- In box 5, enter the total amount of payments you’re reporting with the forms attached to your 1096. (For example, if you’re submitting 15 1099 forms and each form is reporting $1000, you would enter “$15,000” in box 5).
- In box 6, enter an “X” to choose the type of form you’re attaching to the Form 1096.
Once your Form 1096 is filled out, you’ll need to attach it to the Copy A’s of your paper information returns and mail them to the IRS.
Where you submit your Form 1096 will depend on the state where your business is located; you can find the accurate mailing address for your state on the IRS’ Where To File Form 1096 page.
Do I Send 1096 and 1099 Together?
As mentioned, as a small business owner, you’re most likely to use Form 1096 when submitting 1099s. And if you’re submitting those 1099s through the mail, you will need to send Form 1096 and the Copy A’s of your 1099s together.
However, if you decide to move forward with e-filing, there’s no need to attach a Form 1096; the IRS does not require e-filers to submit a 1096 with their 1099s.
When Is Form 1096 Due?
So, to summarize you’ll need to submit Form 1096 to the IRS if you plan to submit any information returns as paper forms through the mail—and if you’re submitting multiple types of information returns, you’ll need to attach a Form 1096 to each type.
But when, exactly, do you need to submit those forms?
For most information returns, the deadline for filing Form 1096 is February 28 of the year following the tax year (so, for example, if you’re filing information returns for tax year 2020, you’d need to submit your forms by February 28, 2021). There are, however, some exceptions—with certain information returns due earlier (as early as January 31) and some due later (as late as May 31). You can find more details on due dates for information returns on the General Instructions For Certain Information Returns page on IRS.gov.
Made a Mistake? Here’s How to Correct It
If you realize you made a mistake on the information return you attached to Form 1096 (for example, you reported the wrong amount) you’ll need to notify both the information return recipient and the IRS of the error and resubmit the forms—including a new Form 1096.
Generally, if you make a minor mistake on your information returns (for example, a miscalculation), you can just fill out a new form, indicate that it’s a corrected form, (for example, on the top of the 1099-NEC form, you would check the box that reads “CORRECTED”), and resubmit to the IRS with a 1096 cover sheet. If you made a large error or an error that needs further clarification, it’s best to consult with a tax professional for guidance on next steps.
Submit Your Form 1096 — and Submit It on Time
If you’re planning on submitting your 1099s or other information returns through the mail, you’ll need a Form 1096. And now that you know where to get that form; how to fill it out; and how, when, and where to submit it, you have everything you need to get Form 1096 to the IRS—and to get it there on time.