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IRS Form 1096: How and When to File It

IRS Form 1096: How and When to File It

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When it comes to tax documentation, the forms can seem endless. But for businesses and financial professionals, understanding each one is crucial. One such essential form is the 1096 Tax Form. Here, we’ll dive deep into Form 1096, its purpose, and how to correctly fill it out.

What is the 1096 Tax Form?

The 1096 Tax Form, also known as the "Annual Summary and Transmittal of U.S. Information Returns," acts as a cover sheet for paper forms of certain information returns. If you've sent out 1099s, 1098s, or other tax forms, Form 1096 summarizes those transactions for the IRS. This is a crucial IRS form that small business owners often encounter.


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Who files IRS Form 1096?

Form 1096 might seem like just another sheet of paper forms in the vast realm of tax documentation, but it holds vital significance, particularly for businesses, especially small business owners and finance professionals. Its primary role is to act as an umbrella summary for the following tax forms, most commonly the 1099 series. But who exactly is mandated to file this form?

Entities Issuing Specific Tax Forms

Businesses, freelancers, independent contractors and other entities that have provided certain tax forms to other parties must file Form 1096 when sending paper forms to the IRS. The IRS website provides detailed guidelines for this. The most common forms summarized by the Form 1096 include:


This pertains to Interest Income. Read more here for a deep dive into how this impacts businesses and individuals, especially independent contractors.


For Dividends and Distributions.


Referred to as Miscellaneous Income, this is often given to freelancers or independent contractors. If you're unfamiliar with what a 1099 employee looks like, you can learn about 1099 employees here.


Addresses Distributions from Pensions, Annuities, and so forth. This also involves payments made towards an IRA account.


A recent addition, this IRS form concerns non-employee compensations. This is particularly relevant to tech companies or businesses employing remote teams. For a more detailed analysis, consider reading Understanding Form 1099-NEC for Tech Talent and Remote Teams.

When Digital Goes Paper

While the digital age has ushered in the possibility of e-filing for most tax documents, there are instances where paper submission becomes necessary. Small business entities often prefer to file electronically, but if you're e-filing form, Form 1096 is not required. It's in these scenarios that Form 1096 becomes relevant. Note: If you’re e-filing your returns, the Form 1096 is not required. Need a holistic understanding of the 1096 form? Dive into Everything You Need to Know About IRS Form 1096.

Form 1099 vs. W-9: The Distinction

Many businesses grapple with the decision between the 1099 and the W-9 form. Which one is more suited for your business needs? Especially when filing electronically, the choice can be crucial. To simplify this decision, explore the differences between Form 1099 and W-9 and determine the best choice for your hiring processes.

Steps to Fill Out the Form 1096

Navigating the myriad of other forms can be daunting, especially when missing a step can lead to complications. The 1096 Tax Form is no exception. It's essential to get it right the first time, and we’re here to guide you through it step-by-step. If unsure, always consult with a tax professional.

For additional context, you can also refer to the official IRS guidelines through their website, but for a simplified approach, continue reading.

Filer’s Information

Start by furnishing the name, address, and contact details of your entity. Ensure the name aligns with the legal name registered with the IRS and matches the employer identification number provided. If you have a recent change in address, ensure that the Internal Revenue Service IRS is updated about the same. Need more guidance on this? Check the IRS's Filer Information Page.

Total Number of Forms

Enter the exact number of forms you're submitting alongside the form 1096. It's a common error to overlook some forms or miscount. Double-checking can save a lot of trouble down the line. For a breakdown of how each form is classified, visit Form Classification on IRS.

Federal Income Tax Withheld

This section is crucial. Here, you have to key in the total federal income tax that’s been withheld from all the accompanying forms. A miscalculation or oversight here could result in discrepancies, so it's wise to cross-reference your figures. Not sure about the total income tax withheld? This Federal Income Tax Guide might help.

Total Amount Reported

Add up specific boxes from your information returns to arrive at the total amount to be reported. This might vary depending on the type of forms you’re accompanying with the form 1096. It's often helpful to use the IRS’s Reporting Guide for clarity.

Check the Appropriate Box

Here, you'll identify which type of form you’re sending. For instance, if you’re sending a 1099-MISC, you'd check the corresponding box. Remember, if you’re sending multiple types of forms, you need to send a separate form 1096 for each one. This is where many get confused. For a clear list of form types, reference the Form List on IRS.

When is the due date for filing Form 1096?

Typically, the 1096 Tax Form should be filed with the IRS by the end of February. However, always check the IRS official guidelines or consult with a tax professional for specific deadlines, as they can change.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Filing Form 1096

Filling out tax forms can be complex, and minor oversights can lead to major complications down the line. To ensure you're on the right track with your Form 1096, let's delve into the most frequent mistakes filers make and provide resources for a smoother process.

Using the Incorrect Year's Form

One of the most common errors is using an outdated version of the form. The IRS updates tax forms regularly, and while the changes might seem minor, they can be significant in terms of compliance. Always check the IRS official website for the most recent version of any tax form.

Incomplete or Missing Information

A hasty submission can lead to omitted details, which might cause your form to be returned or processed incorrectly. This can delay your other tax processes and even result in penalties. Before sending, double-check all fields to ensure you haven't missed any vital information.

Misunderstanding the Purpose of the 1096 Form

Form 1096 is a cover sheet. It is not the actual form where you report financial transactions. Confusing the purpose of this form with others, like the 1099, is a common error. Always ensure you're using Form 1096 to summarize and transmit information returns.

Incorrectly E-Filing with Form 1096

Many individuals and businesses are turning to e-filing for its convenience. However, it's crucial to understand that the 1096 Tax Form is only for paper submissions. If you're e-filing your returns, Form 1096 becomes redundant.

Not Keeping a Copy for Records

Always retain a copy of any tax-related documentation you submit. This serves as evidence of your submission and is invaluable if discrepancies arise in the future.

File Form 1096 Compliantly With Skuad

Tax compliance requires diligence and attention to detail, especially when dealing with forms like Form 1096. In today's globalized world, where organizations work across borders, the challenge of staying compliant multiplies. Enter Skuad, your solution to navigating the complexities of global tax and employment laws.

Skuad’s Employer of Record platform doesn't just offer you a chance to hire and onboard talent across 160 countries; it promises compliance. With Skuad, the fear of legal ramifications, the stress over country-specific regulations, and the potential fines become things of the past.

To elevate your understanding and adherence to global regulations, consider speaking with a Skuad expert today.

To know more about Skuad, book a demo today.


Who is required to file Form 1096?

Form 1096 is required to be filed by businesses and individuals who submit paper copies of certain information returns, such as Forms 1099, 1098, and 5498, to the IRS. It serves as a summary transmittal form.

When must Form 1096 be mailed?

Form 1096 must be mailed to the IRS by February 28th of the year following the tax year for which the information returns apply.











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