How and When to File Form 1096 with the IRS

Annual Summary and Transmittal of Information Returns

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Image by Catherine Song © The Balance 2019 

Form 1096 for Information Returns

IRS Form 1096 is used as a summary and transmittal form with certain types of information returns. An information return is used to report certain types of transactions to the IRS and to the other party, usually someone who has received income from the transaction. For example, let's say your company pays an independent contractor $1000 to do internet work for you. You must send that contractor a 1099-MISC form to show this income and you must also send the 1099-MiSC information return to the IRS. You will need a Form 1096 to show the total information on all the 1099-MISC forms you have given recipients. 

You must send Form 1096 to the IRS if you are submitting paper versions of information returns; you don't send it to recipients.

You don't need to use Form 1096 if you are filing electronically.

If you have 250 or more of any type of information return, you MUST submit electronically for that type of return.

Minimum Amounts to Report

You must prepare an information return for amounts over a certain level. For example, you must give the recipient a 1099-MISC if you have paid $600 or more to that person or business during the year. You don't have to give the 1099-MISC if you paid less than that amount (but, of course, the IRS expects the person to declare ALL income on their tax return). 

1096 Filing Due Dates

The due date for filing most information returns (along with Form 1096) with the IRS is February 28 of the year after the tax year. (March 31, if you file electronically) The due date for giving a copy of an information return to a recipient is January 31 of the year after the tax year. So, for example, you must give 1099-MISC forms for 2019 to recipients by January 31, 2020.

These dates may vary each year, depending on whether the due date is a holiday or weekend. See this annual payroll calendar for the actual date for the current year.

This PDF on Information Returns from the IRS shows, for each type of information return:

  • What to report
  • Responsible party (who must file)
  • Amounts to report
  • Due date to the IRS and
  • Due date to the recipient

Where to File Form 1096

File paper information returns along with form 1096 for each type to an address, based on your principal business location. See this IRS webpage for a list of states and filing addresses.

Send the forms to the IRS flat, not folded. On the package write your name and place the 1096 form at the top of the pile. You must send transmittal packages by first class mail. 

See Section G Paper Document Reporting on Page 22 of the General Instructions for Certain Information Returns, to get the details on how to submit paper documents. With all of the requirements, you may decide it's easier to file electronically if you have more than a few forms.

When You Need a 1096 Form

If you have one or more 1099-MISC forms, you'll need a 1096 form summarizing the information from all of those forms (yes, even just one), to send to the IRS. You are sending only Copy A of the information return to the IRS.

You will need to submit a separate 1096 for every type of information return prepared, even if you only prepared one of each kind. For example, if you prepared and submitted two 1099-MISC forms and one 1099-R form (for retirement payments), you must submit a 1096 form summarizing the 1099-MISC forms and another 1096 form summarizing the 1099-R form.

Form 1096 for State Taxes

You may need a file a 1096 form with 1099s for state taxes. Check with your state's department of revenue or taxing authority for more information on filing 1099 forms and 1096 forms with your state. 

How to File Information Returns Electronically

If you file 250 or more of any one type of 1099 form, you MUST file those forms electronically. Penalties apply if you don't file electronically for these large quantities. For example, if you file 250 1099-MISC forms, those must be filed electronically. But if you file fewer than 250 of Form 1099-B for barter transactions, you don't need to file that one electronically.

You must file the 1099 forms electronically, using the IRS Filing Information Returns Electronically (FIRE) system.

Where to Get 1096 Forms

If you are preparing 1099 forms by yourself, you can find these forms and 1096 forms at:

  • An office supply store. You may find that 1099 forms and 1096 forms are packaged separately. 
  • Tax preparation software. If you purchase business tax preparation software, these forms may be included. 
  • Your accounting or bookkeeping firm or your payroll service should be able to prepare these forms for you. 
  • You can order these forms online from the IRS. 

 How to Complete Form 1096

  1. First, enter the name of your business (as the "FILER")and address; a name of a person to contact, and an email address, phone number, and fax number.
  2. Enter your Employer ID Number ​(EIN) (Box 1) or Social Security Number (Box 2), if you don't have an EIN.
  3. In Box 3, enter the total number of forms you are submitting with this 1096. Remember, they must all be of the same type.
  4. In Box 4, enter the total federal income tax withheld on all the forms you are submitting. If you didn't withhold any federal income tax, indicate "0".
  5. In Box 5, enter the total amount of reported payments on all the forms you are submitting. (That is, all of the amounts on all of the 1099 forms.)
  6. In Box 6, enter an "X" in the box for the type of form you are submitting. For example, if you are submitting 1099-MISC forms, enter an X in the 1099-MISC box.

Avoid These Common Form 1096 Mistakes

  • Don't download and print a 1096 form from the web and submit it; you could be subject to a $50 fine for submitting a 1096 form that is not scannable. 
  • Be sure that all the information on the 1096 form about you (the FILER), including your EIN, is the same as on the information returns you are submitting.
  • Don't forget to sign and date the form.
  • Make sure the 1096 form is for the correct year. It's the year you are reporting, not necessarily the year when you are completing the form. For example, if you are reporting 2019 payments, the red number at the top right of the form should be "2019."

Making Corrections in Form 1096 and Information Returns

See the Error Charts for Filing Corrected Returns on Paper forms (Page 11 of the General Instructions for Certain Information Returns for information on common error types and how to correct them.

Article Sources

  1. IRS. "A Guide to Information Returns." Accessed Dec. 17, 2019.

  2. IRS. "A Guide to Information Returns - General Reporting." (PDF) Accessed Dec. 17, 2019.

  3. IRS. "General Instructions for Certain Information Returns." Shipping and Mailing. Page 19. Accessed Dec. 17, 2019.

  4. IRS. "General Instructions for Certain Information Returns." Accessed Dec. 17, 2019.

  5. IRS. "Form 1096 Annual Summary and Transmittal of U.S. Information Returns." Accessed Dec. 17, 2019.