1. Home / Blog
  2. /
  3. Forms
  4. /
  5. What are the tax...

What are the tax reporting differences between a W-2 and a 1099 tax form?

Differences between a W-2 and a 1099 tax form

Both Form W-2 and Form 1099 have a common goal: reporting the income earned by individuals throughout the tax year. However, they are issued under distinct circumstances, demanding employers to adopt slightly varied approaches during tax season planning. Here are some insights to decipher these forms and anticipate what’s involved when preparing your employees’ taxes. 

What is W-2 Form?                                                                     

The IRS Form W-2 serves as a statement of wages and taxes for employees. It documents an employee’s earnings, benefits, and withheld taxes during a specific tax year. Completing a W-2 is necessary for any individual categorized as a part-time or full-time employee at any time during the tax year. Filing a W-2 is required for all employees who received at least $600 in compensation for the year. 

The W-2 form encompasses all earnings disbursed to the employee, encompassing tips and other types of remuneration. It includes the comprehensive sum of taxes retained to meet local, federal, and state obligations. Additionally, the W-2 incorporates details on withheld Social Security and Medicare taxes. 

Each employee must receive a copy of their W-2 form, which can be accomplished by either sending physical copies through mail or utilizing digital distribution methods if consent for electronic delivery is properly obtained. Many companies opt for a combination of both approaches. 

What is a 1099 Form?  

Form 1099s are described as a set of tax documents that record various payments received by any taxpayer outside of traditional wages. This includes entities such as an independent contractor, gig workers, or really any other individual who isn’t an employee.  Consider an example: if you work as a freelancer or have a business, you will probably receive various 1099 forms from your clients. If a firm pays you at least $600 in a given tax year, the IRS mandates that they produce a Form 1099-NEC in this situation. 

A typical 1099 form does not incorporate any deductions as the business is not obligated to compute or retain any local, state, or federal taxes except in conditions where mandatory backup withholding is required after a B-Notice is received by the payer. Additionally, the company does not bear the responsibility of withholding Social Security or Medicare taxes in any case for 1099 reportable payments. Nevertheless, in specific emergency scenarios, such as recent pandemic relief initiatives, 1099 workers may be eligible to apply for unemployment benefits. 

Difference between 1099 and Form W-2 Employees for tax reporting purposes 

While both 1099 and W-2 forms are commonly used in business taxes, the differences include who receives the forms and how they are handled regarding tax rates and practices. We won’t be covering employee classification as that should be handled by your HR department and is not related to the tax reporting requirements. 

  • Different Recipients 
    The key difference between 1099 and W-2 forms lies in their recipients.  
    1099: You issue 1099 forms to independent contractors, gig workers, or freelancers. Additionally, independent contractors utilizing 1099 forms are accountable for managing and filing their own payroll taxes. 
    W-2: W-2 forms are provided to full-time employees, with the employer deducting payroll taxes directly from their paychecks.  
  • Employment Relationship 

W-2 Employees: W-2 employees have a standard employer-employee relationship, working directly under employer supervision with taxes deducted from paychecks. They also receive benefits like health insurance and retirement plans. 
1099 Workers (Independent Contractors): Independent contractors, or 1099 workers, operate as self-employed individuals engaged in specific projects. They enjoy more autonomy in their work but are responsible for handling their own taxes and typically do not receive traditional employee benefits.  

  • Work Tenure 
    W-2 Employees: W-2 employees commonly commit to ongoing, long-term relationships with their employers, maintaining regular working hours. 
    1099 Workers (Independent Contractors): Independent contractors are typically engaged for specific projects for a limited duration, affording them greater flexibility in their working hours. 
  • Purpose: 
    Form W-2: Used to report income earned by regular employees classified by their employer. 
    Form 1099: Used to report income and payments made to non-employees during the year. 
  • Who Must File: 
    Form W-2: Filed by employers and businesses. 
    Form 1099: Filed by businesses and individuals (payers). 
  • Income Sources: 
    Form W-2: Typically covers salary, wages, tips, and other forms of compensation for regular employees. 
    Form 1099: Covers various types of income, including freelance earnings, interest, dividends, rent, and more. 

Can Individuals Receive Both 1099 & W-2 Forms? 

It is possible for an individual to receive both a W-2 and a 1099 from the same payer. One scenario is when an individual holds a dual role within a corporation, serving as both an officer and an employee while also being a member of the board of directors. In such cases, they would receive a W-2 for employee compensation and a 1099 for fees earned in their role as a corporate director, considered a non-employee position. 

Additionally, an individual may receive both types of information returns from the same company within the same tax year. This situation can occur if an independent contractor, who initially provided services to the company, is later hired as an employee. In this case, the individual would receive a 1099 for payments received during their time as an independent contractor and a W-2 for payments once they become an employee on the company’s payroll. 

File Both Form 1099 and W-2 Form with Tax1099 

With Tax1099, you can start filing your 1099s and W-2s within minutes. Tax1099 offers features like bulk upload, internal audit checks, TIN matching, and the convenience of e-filing for both federal and state copies. Plus, you get to send copies to your recipients the way they like it, whether through the mail or online.  

Streamline, simplify, and conquer tax season like a pro with Tax1099