What Is IRS Form 1096?

Tax Form 1096 Explained

Image shows a 1096 form sitting on a wooden table. The form is filled out with generic info for "Joe Doe".

Image by Catherine Song © The Balance 2019 

IRS Form 1096 is a summary and transmittal tax form that gives the IRS information on the Forms 1097, 1098, 1099, 3921, 3922, 5498, or W-2G your company sent out to other recipients. It is used only when submitting those forms to the IRS in a paper format. It should not be used when transmitting those forms electronically.

Your company must complete a Form 1096 for every type of those seven other forms it sent out.

What Is IRS Form 1096?

IRS Form 1096 is titled "Annual Summary and Transmittal of U.S. Information Returns" and is used to provide the IRS with details about one of seven different types of so-called information returns you are submitting in paper form. An information return is used to report certain types of transactions to the IRS and to another party, usually someone who has received income from the transaction.

For example, let's say your company pays one independent contractor a total of $2,500 and another contractor $1,500 for work done in a single tax year. You must send the contractors and the IRS a Form 1099-MISC—or, starting in tax year 2020, a Form 1099-NEC—to notify them about the amount of non-employee income you paid to the contractors. You will use Form 1096 to summarize the information provided on all the 1099-MISC or 1099-NEC forms you sent to contractors.

You will need to submit a separate 1096 for every type of information return prepared, even if you prepared only one of each kind. For example, if you prepared and submitted seven 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, along with all Copy A's of the respective return. 

IRS Form 1096

Who Uses Form 1096?

Business owners or executives who want to submit one or more of the seven kinds of information returns to the IRS by mail in paper form must use Form 1096. If you are filing your information returns electronically, you do not need to use Form 1096.

If you have 250 or more of any type of information return, you must submit that type of return electronically. If you have less than 250 of a certain type of information return, you have the option of mailing the paperwork or filing it electronically.

Where to Get Form 1096

Because the IRS scans the Forms 1096 it receives, the agency wants companies submitting the forms to use scannable, official documents. Photocopies of originals are not acceptable. You can order the forms from the IRS's Order Forms & Publications website. You may also find forms at office supply stores or through your tax preparation software.

How to Fill Out Form 1096

  1. First, enter the name of your business (under "FILER's name") and address; the name of the person to contact; and that person's email address, phone number, and fax number.
  2. Enter your employer ID number ​(EIN) in box 1 or your Social Security number in box 2 if you don't have an EIN.
  3. In box 3, enter the total number of forms you are submitting with this particular 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, enter a zero.
  5. In box 5, enter the total amount of reported payments on all the forms you are submitting—for example, the total for all of the 1099-MISC forms.
  6. Under 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 second box from the left in the second row.

Where to Mail Form 1096

You must mail a Form 1096 along with all Copy A's of the corresponding paper information returns to an address that's based on your principal business location. The IRS's Where to File Form 1096 web page lists addresses according to state. The addresses are also available on page 3—the second page of instructions—of the Form 1096 PDF.

When to File Form 1096

The due date for filing most information returns and Form 1096 with the IRS is February 28 of the year after the tax year. The due date for giving a copy of an information return to the non-IRS recipient is often January 31 of the year after the tax year. However, the dates vary; some information returns and 1096's are due to the IRS as early as January 31 and as late as May 31. The IRS's General Instructions for Certain Information Returns (2020) web page gives a complete list of due dates.

If a due date falls on a Saturday, a Sunday, or a legal holiday, the due date is the next business day.

Form 1096 for State Taxes

You may need a file a 1096 with corresponding 1099s for state taxes. For example, Montana asks you to file any of the various types of 1099 forms with a Form 1096. Check with your state's department of revenue or taxing authority for more information.

How to Make Corrections

If you realize you've made a mistake in your 1096 or an information return, you should correct it right away with the IRS and the non-IRS recipient. For detailed instructions, see the General Instructions for Certain Information Returns (2020) web page.

Key Takeaways

  • IRS Form 1096 gives the IRS information on the Forms 1097, 1098, 1099, 3921, 3922, 5498, or W-2G your company sent out.
  • The form is used only when submitting those types of forms, known as information returns, to the IRS in a paper format; it should not be used when transmitting information returns electronically.
  • You must submit a separate 1096 for every type of information return you prepared, even if you prepared only one of each kind.
  • If you have 250 or more of any type of information return, you must electronically submit that type of return instead of using Form 1096.

Article Sources

  1. Internal Revenue Service. "A Guide to Information Returns." Accessed June 18, 2020.

  2. Internal Revenue Service. "General Instructions for Certain Information Returns," Page 2. Accessed June 18, 2020.

  3. Internal Revenue Service. "2020 Form 1096," Pages 1 and 2. Accessed June 18, 2020.

  4. Internal Revenue Service. "2020 Form 1096," Page 3. Accessed June 18, 2020.

  5. Internal Revenue Service. "General Instructions for Certain Information Returns," Pages 26-28. Accessed June 18, 2020.

  6. Montana Department of Revenue. "Forms 1099 With No Withholding." Accessed June 18, 2020.