What is a 1099 tax form, why might you receive one, and why is it important?

A 1099 tax form is for taxpayers who have earned non-employment income. Form 1099 is typically used by independent contractors (1099-NEC), but there are over 20 varieties a person can use to file their taxes. If you’re wondering why you got a 1099 or if you need one, read on.

Who receives the 1099 form?

Form 1099 is used to calculate non-employment income for the IRS, such as dividends or payments received by independent contractors. However, you only need to file a 1099 form when you receive $600 or more in non-employment income per year, with some exceptions.

1099 varieties you might need

Of the more than 20 varieties of Form 1099s you’ll come across, you’ll likely need the following:

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How to calculate your 1099 tax

The self-employed are subject to a tax rate of 15.3%, which probably shocked you the first time you saw it. Compared to employee income tax, which ranges from 7% to 10%, 15.3% seems quite high, but that’s because you’re paying both the employer and employee portion of the tax.

The 15.3% self-employment tax rate is split between Social Security tax (12.4%) and Medicare tax (2.9%). It’s easy to feel intimidated when calculating the 1099 tax, but there are ways to reduce it.

What to do if you don’t receive your 1099

Taxpayers need to know what forms they need to send to the IRS, so if you expect to receive a 1099, but it hasn’t been sent to you until February, contact your employer or payer. You are responsible for paying the taxes you owe on time, even if you do not receive your forms.

If you’ve recently changed your address, your forms could get lost in the mail. Notify the IRS immediately to receive your 1099. This way, you can add these numbers to Form 1040.

On the other hand, if you did not receive the expected 1099 for earned income, you may be able to report it under miscellaneous income (1099-MISC). For this reason, it’s important to track your income to ensure you don’t over-report or under-report to the IRS.

How to report your 1099s

Your payer will send a copy of your 1099 to you and the IRS. Think of the 1099 as a W-2, except the 1099 will not show you the taxes withheld by your employer because they will not deduct that amount for you. Most income on the 1099 is taxed unless you can deduct it.

Since the IRS receives your 1099s from your payers, you do not need to send your copies with your 1040 form. Your 1099s serve as proof of income, similar to the W-2 for employees.

It is essential to report all of your 1099s, even if the amount on the form is less than $600. The IRS uses computerized correspondence to find discrepancies in your files. If the IRS received a 1099 and you don’t add that amount to your Form 1040, you will be audited, so don’t risk it.

Any errors on your 1099 forms should be reported to your payer immediately. You may have time to correct your payer’s documents, which is in your best interest. If your payer has already filed your 1099 forms, ask for a correction to make sure the IRS isn’t adding the two forms together.

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