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How to fill out a 1099 form for Independent contractors

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Updated on:
March 15, 2024
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Updated on :

March 15, 2024
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How to fill out a 1099 form for Independent contractors

A 1099 form is an integral part of the tax process for both businesses and independent contractors, acting as a record of the income earned from non-traditional employment sources. Understanding how to fill out a 1099 form accurately and timely is crucial, as it can significantly impact your federal income tax obligations and potentially your financial health.

This article is designed to walk you through the ins and outs of the form 1099 NEC, providing a clear understanding of what it is, who needs to fill it out, and most importantly, how to fill out this 1099 form correctly to ensure income tax accuracy.

What is a 1099 tax form?

A 1099 tax form, often referred to as an IRS form, is a type of form used by the IRS in the United States to track income from sources other than wages paid by an employer. Essentially, if you're earning money from freelance work, as a contractor, or through other nonemployee compensation payments, you will likely need to deal with a 1099 form.

There are many different 1099 forms, including the form 1099 misc, that report the various types of income you may receive throughout the year other than the salary your employer pays you. The person or entity that pays you is responsible for filling out the appropriate IRS form and sending it to you by January 31 for the previous calendar year.

While there are many kinds of 1099 forms, the one most relevant for independent contractors and freelancers is Form 1099 NEC. NEC stands for Nonemployee Compensation, which was previously reported in box 7 of the form 1099 misc. In the simplest terms, the form 1099 NEC is used to report payments to contractors — people who are not on the payroll and instead get paid based on the services performed. This is crucial when you report nonemployee compensation.

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Who is an independent contractor?

An independent contractor is an individual who provides services to another entity, such as a business or another person, under the terms of a contract. But unlike employees, independent contractors operate independently, and the entity they work for does not withhold federal income tax, Social Security, or Medicare.

In essence, independent contractors are considered business owners. They are responsible for their own business expenses, taxes, and benefits. In the eyes of the law, they are self-employed. This autonomy often extends to the nature of their work as well, as they usually have more control over how they complete their tasks, ranging from the hours they work to the tools and methods they use.

Independent contractors work in various sectors and industries. You may find them in fields such as writing and editing, graphic design, consulting, IT and software development, marketing, and many more. Tech talents working remotely are also often categorized as independent contractors, providing their skills and expertise to businesses around the world without being formally employed by them. This makes understanding how to fill out a 1099 form even more crucial, especially when it comes to federal income tax withheld and state income tax.

For those handling independent contractor payments, it's essential to be aware of the need to report nonemployee compensation payments correctly and ensure that direct sales, cash payments, and other forms of compensation are accurately recorded on Form 1099 NEC. Similarly, contractors need to be mindful about paying their self-employment taxes and understand that their payer's state identification number might be required when filling out the form. Reporting payments to contractors is a significant part of tax season, and accuracy is of utmost importance.

Who gets a 1099?

Primarily, 1099 forms are issued to independent contractors, freelancers, and self-employed individuals, with the form 1099 NEC typically serving as their income tax statement. Generally, a 1099 form is received by individuals or entities who have received certain types of income during the year. These forms are sent out by payers who have made these contractor payments, providing a record for both the payer and the recipient, as well as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

One of the most common recipients of a 1099 form is the independent contractor. If you provide a service to a business or individual and are not an employee, you fall under this category. This can include a wide range of occupations, such as freelance writers, graphic designers, consultants, and more. For those in direct sales, it is even more crucial to understand the requirements of Form 1099 misc. If you're working as an independent contractor and earn $600 or more from a single client, that client is generally required to withhold federal income tax and send you a form 1099 NEC. This form reports the total amount they paid you during the tax year. A federal income tax withheld statement is also included in this document.

However, it's not just self-employed individuals or independent contractors who receive 1099 forms. Other situations can also warrant a 1099. For example, if you've earned more than $10 in royalties or broker payments instead of dividends or tax-exempt interest, you will receive a 1099. Similarly, if you've received distributions from profit-sharing plans, retirement plans, or money from health savings accounts, you can expect to receive a 1099 form. It is also common to receive a form 1099 misc for miscellaneous income, which can include prizes, awards, or any other form of income that doesn't fall under the other categories.

In essence, a 1099 form is a record of income from sources that are not salaried employees. If you've received income in one of these categories during the tax year, you should be prepared to receive a 1099 form and will need to report this income when filing your taxes. The obligation to report nonemployee compensation payments remains even if you don't receive a 1099 form from someone who paid you, you are still legally required to report that income to the IRS under federal or state law.

How contractors use Form 1099-NEC

Form 1099-NEC, which stands for "Nonemployee Compensation," is a critical document that independent contractors should be familiar with. This form is the primary mechanism by which the IRS keeps track of the nonemployee compensation payments independent contractors earn throughout the year, especially during the tax season.

When a business or individual hires an independent contractor and pays them more than $600 in a year, they are obligated to complete a form 1099 NEC and send it both to the IRS and to the contractor. The form includes the contractor's personal information, their employer identification number, the total amount of compensation paid, and the payer's information, including their account number.

As an independent contractor, when you receive a Form 1099 NEC, it's important to check that the information is accurate. This includes your Social Security number or taxpayer identification number, as well as the total amount of independent contractor payments you received from the payer. Any discrepancies should be reported immediately to the payer, as they are responsible for issuing a corrected form if necessary.

The Form 1099 NEC serves as a record of your income as an independent contractor. You'll need to use the information on this form when you prepare your income taxes. It's important to keep this form, along with any other documentation related to your income and expenses, for your records. 

Moreover, this form is essential for claiming tax deductions. As an independent contractor, you're allowed to deduct certain business expenses from your taxable income. The income reported on your 1099-NEC form, minus your deductible business expenses determines your net profit or loss. This figure is then used to calculate your self-employment taxes and your income taxes.

Information contained in a 1099 form

A Form 1099 NEC is a critical document, acting as a record of income received from sources other than a traditional employer. Whether you are a freelancer engaged in direct sales or a business engaging independent contractors, it's important to understand the information presented in this IRS Form.

Typically, a Form 1099 NEC will contain the following key details:

Recipient's Information

This includes the name, address, and taxpayer identification number (TIN) of the recipient, usually a Social Security number for individuals or an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for businesses.

Payer's Information

Similarly, the form includes the payer's name, address, and TIN along with the payer's state identification number. This information can be useful for tracking where contractor payments came from during the tax year. The account number related to these payments is also noted here.

Income Amount

The most critical piece of information on Form 1099 NEC is the total amount of nonemployee compensation received during the calendar year. This is reported in Box 1 on Form 1099 NEC.

Federal and State Tax Withheld

If any federal or state tax was withheld, these amounts would be reported on the form, specifically under withheld state tax and state income tax.

Nonqualified deferred compensation

For specific types of IRS forms, such as the 1099-MISC, there may be additional fields for items like nonqualified deferred compensation or other income.

Foreign tax paid and Foreign country or U.S. possession

If the payee had foreign tax paid or the income was earned in a foreign country or up to two states, these fields would be filled.

Understanding these components can be essential in preparing your tax filing. It ensures you report nonemployee compensation payments and report non-salary income, thus avoiding potential issues with the IRS. However, filling out tax forms can be complicated, especially if you're a limited liability company or a tax-exempt organization, and consulting with a tax attorney or a trusted source can often be beneficial.

How to file a Form 1099 NEC

While it might initially seem intimidating, filling out and filing a Form 1099 NEC is a relatively straightforward process when you break it down into steps. It's essential, however, to approach it with care and precision to ensure all information is accurate and in compliance with Internal Revenue Code regulations.

Step 1: Obtain the Correct Form

The first step in this process is to obtain the correct IRS form. As an independent contractor, you'll typically deal with Form 1099 NEC, which reports nonemployee compensation.

You can download the form directly from the IRS website. Make sure you're using the version for the appropriate tax year.

Step 2: Fill in Your Information

Next, you'll need to fill out your details, including your legal name, address, and taxpayer identification number (TIN). If you're a U.S. citizen, your TIN is either your Social Security number (SSN) or your taxpayer identification number (ITIN). Be careful to ensure that your name and TIN match exactly what the IRS has on file. You also need to add your payer's state identification number and the account number associated with your payments.

Step 3: Report Your Income

In the next section of the form, you'll need to report the total income you've received from the client or company who has hired you. This information should match the amount the company has reported paying you. If you've been given business travel allowances paid, this is also reported here. Make sure to include all income from your nonemployee work, as leaving out any can lead to penalties down the line.

Remember, this form allows you to report income in up to two states, so ensure you fill in the correct details for both state income sections. Also, if you've opted to withhold income tax, indicate this on the form. Other details like backup withholding, state tax withheld, and services performed can also be entered here.

Step 4: Additional Information

Depending on your situation, there might be additional information you need to provide on the form. This could include things like federal income tax withheld and state income information. If you're unsure about what additional information you need to provide, such as contractor payments or details about a limited liability company, it may be wise to consult with legal services.

Step 5: Submit the Form to the IRS

The final step in this process is to submit the completed form to the IRS. This includes ensuring all required fields, such as tax withheld and state income, are correctly filled out. You also need to provide a copy of the form to the client or company that paid you. It's important to note that the IRS has specific deadlines for when these forms need to be submitted, typically at the end of January or the beginning of February. This includes submissions for reporting non-salary income, like personal payments or deposit commissions.

Remember, for electronic filing, you must use IRS-approved software. If you're paper filing, you must also send a completed Form 1096, which serves as a summary of the 1099 forms you're submitting, acting as a consolidated tax statement.

Manage Tax Compliance with Skuad

Understanding and accurately filling out a 1099 form is a vital part of being an independent contractor or working with one. It is key to maintaining transparency and compliance with the IRS and avoiding penalties or audits. This includes managing to pay self-employment taxes like the Medicare tax. From recognizing who qualifies as an independent contractor to know the process of filing a 1099 form, every step is crucial for keeping your tax affairs in order.

However, managing tax compliance for a remote or distributed team can be a challenge, especially when you're dealing with different tax laws and regulations across multiple countries. That's where an Employer of Record (EOR) platform, like Skuad, can make a significant difference.

Skuad is an EOR platform that enables you to hire, onboard, and manage contractors and employees in over 160 countries, all while ensuring full compliance with country-specific laws and regulations. With Skuad, you can remove the worry about potential legal risks and fines associated with non-compliance. Skuad takes care of all these details, so you can focus on building and growing your team, confident in your compliance.

To learn more about how Skuad can support your organization's tax compliance and international hiring efforts, reach out and talk to Skuad experts today.


When are 1099s due?

Form 1099s are generally due to recipients by January 31, and to the IRS by February 28 (or March 31 if filed electronically) of the year following the tax year being reported.

What if you don’t receive a 1099 from a business?

If you don't receive a 1099 form from a business and you earned $600 or more, you should still report the income on your tax return. It may be useful to contact the business to request the form. It's also worth checking your mail and email thoroughly, as it could have been overlooked.

What happens if you miss the 1099 filing deadline?

If you miss the 1099 filing deadline, you may be subject to penalties from the IRS. The penalties can increase the longer the delay. If you are unable to file on time, it is often best to file as soon as you are able, to limit potential penalties.

Do I have to pay taxes on my 1099 form?

Yes, income reported on a 1099 form is typically subject to income tax. The specific tax liability depends on factors like your total income, deductions, and the tax brackets for the relevant tax year. Self-employment taxes may also apply if the income was earned from self-employment.

About the author

Catalina Wang is a Human Resource Consultant. She manages recruitment, onboarding, and contract administration staffing for many organizations and remote teams. She’s passionate about efficient HR management and the impact of tech on hiring practices.

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