Where to Get W-2 Forms and 1099-MISC Forms

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January can be a hectic time for businesses. Save yourself some stress by getting your annual payroll tax reporting forms in advance. These forms report income and taxes withheld for the year.

If you have employees, you must give them Forms W-2, the annual wage and tax forms they will need to complete and file their income tax returns. If you hire contract workers or other businesses, such as attorneys, you must give them 1099-MISC forms if you pay them more than $600 over the course of the year.

Do NOT use the 2020 version of Form 1099-MISC for 2019 payments! Be sure to use the 2019 version of 1099-MISC for 2019 payments to nonemployees and others. The 1099-MISC form is changing in 2020, and a new 2020 Form 1099-NEC will be used to report payments to nonemployees.

To be sure you are using the correct form, check that the date "2019" is in the top right and that Item 7 is for "nonemployee compensation."

When and Where to File W-2 and 1099-MISC Forms

The deadline for giving W-2 forms to employees and 1099-MISC forms to non-employees is January 31 of the year following the tax year 

The deadline for filing these forms is also January 31, but the filing is sent to different government agencies, depending on the form:

  • W-2 forms must be filed with the Social Security Administration (SSA)
  • 1099-MISC forms must be filed with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

The January 31 deadline may be different in some years if that date falls on a weekend or a holiday. In either of these cases, the deadline for that year is the next business day. Check this article on payroll tax deadlines for the specific deadline for the current year.

Where to Get the Forms

Major office supply stores have packets of W-2 forms and 1099-MISC forms. They might be available in your local store, or you can usually order them online.

Make sure you use the 2019 version of Form 1099-MISC for 2019 payments, NOT the 2020 version!

Your local accounting firm should have these forms also. If you do not have an accounting firm, it might be time to find a good CPA or other tax professional to help you with your business taxes. An accountant can take your payroll information and file W-2 forms and 1099-MISC forms for you in addition to helping you complete your business tax return.

Payroll software or a payroll processing service has all the information for filing W-2s and 1099-MISC forms and they can file for you online.

You can also find W-2 and 1099-MISC forms on some versions of business tax preparation software. Read the descriptions of what's included to be sure you can use the software to prepare these forms.

You can also order these tax forms directly from the IRS. Go to their online forms ordering page for more information. Current forms are usually available after December 1.

Where You Cannot Get W-2 Forms 

You cannot download W-2 forms or 1099-MISC forms from the internet, not even from the IRS. Copy A of the W-2 form is a specific color of red ink that cannot be duplicated. 

The W-2 form and 1099-MISC form include a year date on them. The year is marked on the forms in black lettering. The instructions for both forms also are for a specific year.

Look for the form and instructions for the tax year you are reporting, not the year you are completing the form. Use a 2019 form when reporting income for 2019.

An Alternative: Filing W-2 and 1099-MISC Forms Online

You can file W-2 forms online directly with the Social Security Administration through their Business Services Online portal. You can file 1099-MISC forms and other 1099 forms online with the IRS through the FIRE System (Filing Electronic Returns Electronically) online. Read more about how

Filing online is optional unless you have 250 or more forms. But this optional requirement is changing to a non-optional requirement over the next few years.

  • Starting with the 2021 tax year, if your business has 100 W-2s or 1099-MISC forms to file, you must file online.
  • For tax years after 2021, if your business has 10 or more W-2s or 1099-MISC forms to file, you must file online.

Article Sources

  1. IRS. "2019 Instructions for Form 1099-MISC." Page 1. Accessed Oct. 8, 2019.

  2. IRS. General Instructions for Forms W-2 and W-3. Page 1. Accessed Oct. 8, 2019.

  3. IRS. "2019 Form 1099-MISC." Page 1. Accessed Oct. 8, 2019.

  4. IRS. Form W-2. Page 1. Accessed Oct. 8, 2019.

  5. U.S. Congress. H.R. 3151. "Sec. 2301. Electronic Filing of Returns," Page 32. Accessed Oct. 8, 2019.