How to Prepare and File Form W-3 or Form 1096

File Transmittal Forms for W-2s and 1099s

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IRS Forms W-3 and 1096 are summary transmittal forms that must accompany the W-2s given to employees and the 1099-MISC forms given to non-employees when you file copies with the government. Here's what you need to know.

Due Dates 

The due date for W-3s is January 31, 2019. The due date for 1096 forms can vary based on the type of 1099s you are filing. 1099 MISC forms must be provided to workers by January 31, 2019, and submitted to the government by February 28, 2019.

Form W-3 and your employee W-2s are submitted to the Social Security Administration. All 1096 forms along with their corresponding 1099s are submitted to the Internal Revenue Service.

Form W-3 for Employee Year-End Wage and Tax Reports 

Form W-3 is the summary transmittal form that must be filed with the Social Security Administration (SSA) by the due date for the current tax year. Form W-3 totals all data from W-2 forms for all your employees. Learn more about how to complete Form W-3.

Submitting Form W-3

The SSA allows for both paper filing and electronic filing. It has specific requirements for these two options based on the number of W-2s your company is providing. The filing process can include either of the following:

  • By mail to the Social Security Administration, Data Operations Center, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18769-0001.
  • Online through the Social Security Administration's Business Service Online portal.

Form 1096 for Contractors and Outside Business Information

Form 1096 is more complicated than the W-3. Form 1096 is what the IRS calls a "compilation report" because it totals all information from all Form 1099s you've distributed to non-employees.

Each type of Form 1099 must have its own Form 1096. For example, you must have a 1096 compilation for all the 1099-MISC forms you've provided to independent contractors and others to whom you paid $600 or more during the year. You'll need another Form 1096 if you provide 1099-DIV forms to anyone for dividend payments.

Preparing and Filing Form 1096

You must total all the information on the 1099 forms for each type you have provided to prepare Form 1096. Form 1096 will have its own filing instructions based on individual scenarios.

Errors on W-3s and 1096 Forms

If you make a mistake on a W-2, you must file Form W-2c. If the error affects the summary W-3, you must also file a W-3c form correcting the totals. Read more about how to correct W-2 and W-3 forms.

If you make a mistake on Form 1099 that affects Form 1096, you can correct the error by filing a corrected form designated with an X in the appropriate box. But the correction process is a little more complicated than that, so please read General Instructions for Certain Information Returns.

Note: Tax laws change periodically, and you should consult with a tax professional for the most up-to-date advice. The information contained in this article is not intended as tax advice and is not a substitute for tax advice.​