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Forms and Associated Taxes for Independent Contractors

Changes for 2016

A new federal law, the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act, enacted in December 2015, moves up some 1099-MISC filing deadlines to January 31. The new law makes it easier for the IRS to find and stop refund fraud.

Businesses who use Form 1099-MISC to report non-employee compensation, such as payments to independent contractors, are now required to file Copy A with the IRS by January 31.

In the past, businesses typically had until the end of February, if filing on paper, or the end of March, if filing electronically, to submit their copies of this form.

Something that hasn’t changed: a copies of Form 1099-MISC must still be provided to the worker by January 31.

Form W-9

If you’ve made the determination that the person you’re paying is an independent contractor, the first step is to have the contractor complete Form W-9 (PDF), Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification. This form can be used to request the correct name and Taxpayer Identification Number, or TIN, of the worker. A TIN may be either a Social Security Number (SSN), or an Employer Identification Number (EIN). The W-9 (PDF) should be kept in your files for four years for future reference in case of any questions from the worker or the IRS.

Form 1099-MISC

Form 1099-MISC (PDF) is most commonly used by payers to report payments made in the course of a trade or business to others for services.

If you paid someone who is not your employee, such as a subcontractor, attorney or accountant $600 or more for services provided during the year, a Form 1099-MISC (PDF) needs to be completed, and a copy of 1099-MISC (PDF) must be provided to the independent contractor by January 31 of the year following payment. Starting with 2016, you must also send a copy of this form to the IRS by January 31.

Also note that independent contractors may have their own employees or may hire other independent contractors (subcontractors). In either case, they should be aware of their tax responsibilities, including filing and reporting requirements, for these workers.

There are certain situations where a 1099 is not required. These exceptions are listed in the 1099 Instructions (PDF).

Filing Electronically

The Filing Information Returns Electronically (FIRE) system is set up for financial institutions and others to file Information Return Forms 1042-S, 1098, 1099, 5498, 8027 or W-2G. Information Returns can be filed electronically, however, you must have software that can produce the file in the proper format as required by Publication 1220. FIRE does not provide an electronic fill-in form option.


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Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 02-Dec-2016