How To Get W-2 and 1099 Forms

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January can be a hectic time for employers who must file annual wage and tax reports for workers, including employees, non-employee contractors, and others paid during the year. It's important to get the right forms for these reports so save yourself some stress by getting your annual payroll tax reporting forms in advance.

This article describes whee to get W-2 forms for employees, 1099-NEC forms for non-employees, and other types of 1099 forms.

Key Takeaways

  • Anyone your business paid for their services must receive a report showing how much they were paid for the year.
  • The most common forms you'll need are W-2 forms for employees, 1099-NEC forms for non-employees, and 1099-MISC forms for other types of payments.
  • You can get these forms directly from the IRS, or from most online business tax preparation software.

Forms for Types of Payments

To report payments to employees, you must give them Form W-2, the annual wage and tax form they will need to complete and file their income tax returns. All non-employee payees receive a 1099 form.

There are several types of 1099 forms you might need to give to someone, including:

  • Form 1099-MISC for various types of payments
  • Form 1099-NEC for payments to non-employees
  • Form 1099-B for barter exchange income
  • Form 1099-K for payment card and third-party network transactions

Use the 1099-NEC form to report payments to non-employees, attorneys (for fees), and other businesses. Use the 1099-MISC form to report payments to others, including royalties, rents, backup withholding, and prizes/awards.


The IRS determines employee vs. independent contractor status using three categories. Each case is determined on its own merits, but generally a worker is considered to be an employee unless independent contractor status can be proven.

Where To Get W-2 and 1099 Forms

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

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 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 forms and they can file for you online.

You can also find W-2 and 1099 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 Can't Get W-2 Forms and 1099 Forms

You cannot download W-2 forms or 1099-MISC forms from the Internet. Copy A of these forms is a specific color of red ink that cannot be duplicated.

When and Where To File W-2 and 1099 Forms

The deadline for giving W-2 forms to employees and 1099-NEC forms to non-employees is January 31 of the year following the tax year. This is also the date when the forms must be filed.

W-2 forms must be filed with the Social Security Administration (SSA) and all types of 1099 forms must be filed with the IRS.

Filing W-2 and 1099 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 forms and other 1099 forms online with the IRS through the Filing Information Returns Electronically (FIRE) system online. To use this system, you must be able to create a file in the proper format; you can't use a scanned or PDF copy. If you file 250 or more of any one type of information in a year, you must file these forms online using the FIRE system.

Check the Year on Forms Before You File

W-2 forms and 1099 forms include a year date. The year is marked on the forms in black lettering. The IRS instructions for all of these 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 2021 form when reporting payments for 2021.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do I fill out W-2 forms?

Before you fill out W-2 forms, you'll need totals on employee pay, Social Security, and Medicare wages. You also must have totals for withholding federal and state income taxes, FICA taxes (for Social Security and Medicare), and any other deductions that affect an employee's taxes. Fill out all sections of the form using this information.

Check with your tax professional for any changes to employee pay from COVID-related benefits, including sick and family leave payments you might have mad. Double-check any changes to state laws that might affect an employee's state income tax.

Where do I mail 1099 forms to the IRS?

Where you mail 1099 forms to the IRS depends on the state where your business is located. See page 7 of the General Instructions for Certain Information Returns for the specific mailing addresses for each state. You can also use certain private delivery services approved by the IRS.

Copy A of W-2 forms must be mailed to the SSA; the rest of the copies are kept by the employer or given to employees. This article by the SSA on Paper Forms W-2 & Instructions includes the mailing addresses for regular and certified mail and for private delivery services.

Where do you file late 1099 forms?

File late 1099 forms to the same place as if you weren't filing late. That is, file online using the IRS Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) or on paper to the IRS using the address for the state where your business is located.

The best strategy is to file late forms as soon as possible to avoid interest and penalties. You may be able to get an extension from the IRS using Form 8809 to the mailing address on the form.

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. IRS. "Instructions for Forms 1099-MISC and 1099-NEC." Page 7. Accessed Jan. 12, 2022.

  2. IRS. "Instructions for Forms 1099-MISC and 1099-NEC." Page 1. Accessed Jan. 12, 2022.

  3. IRS. General Instructions for Forms W-2 and W-3. Page 1. Accessed Jan. 12, 2022.

  4. IRS. "Topic No. 801 Who Must File Information Returns Electronically." Accessed Jan. 12, 2022.

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