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Cracking the Code: A Simple Guide to IRS Form 1099-NEC

Triston Martin

Nov 08, 2023

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form 1099-NEC is a crucial tax document for any self-employed professional. It's a vital tax form that independent contractors and businesses should pay close attention to, as it provides the official record of a person's self-employment income.

What is IRS Form 1099-NEC?

The IRS Form 1099-NEC, Nonemployee Compensation, is a tax document issued by a client to a non-employee, such as an independent contractor, freelancer, vendor, or other self-employed individual. It reports all the payments made to the non-employee in the last tax year. If a business pays at least $600 to a non-employee in a year, the business will need to send a copy of Form 1099-NEC to the individual and the IRS.

Understanding the Fields in Form 1099-NEC

Form 1099-NEC consists of several fields that require specific information. The fields include the payer and recipient's name, address, and TIN (Taxpayer Identification Number). The primary box, box 1, reports the total amount of nonemployee compensation. Box 4 is for any federal income tax withheld from the nonemployee income, and box 7 is where you report any nonqualified deferred compensation.

When and How to File Form 1099-NEC

Form 1099-NEC must be filed with the IRS by January 31st following the tax year of payment. If January 31st falls on a weekend or a holiday, the deadline is the next business day. To file Form 1099-NEC, follow these steps:

  1. Collect Information: Gather necessary information including the recipient's name, address, and TIN. Also, calculate the total nonemployee compensation paid during the tax year.
  2. Prepare Form 1099-NEC: Fill in payer and recipient's information in the respective fields. Enter the total nonemployee compensation in box 1, any federal income tax withheld in box 4, and any nonqualified deferred compensation in box 7.
  3. Distribute Copies of Form 1099-NEC: Provide Copy B and Copy 2 to the recipient by January 31st. The recipient needs these copies for their tax filing.
  4. File with the IRS: Submit Copy A to the IRS by January 31st. You can file electronically or by mail. If you file electronically, you can do it directly through the IRS website. If you are submitting by mail, send the form to the appropriate IRS address found in the Form 1099 Instructions.
  5. Keep a Copy for Your Records: Retain Copy C for your records for at least three years from the due date of the return.

Remember, always consult with a tax professional if you have any doubts or questions about filing Form 1099-NEC.

Online Vs. Offline filing

If you choose to file Form 1099-NEC electronically, you can do so directly through the IRS website. Online filing is more secure and efficient than paper filing since it reduces errors and provides instant confirmation of successful submission. Furthermore, if you are filing 250 or more forms, electronic filing is mandatory. However, if you are filing fewer than 250 forms, you have the option to mail in paper copies. When filing electronically, make sure you keep a copy of all forms filed for your records.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Here are some common mistakes to watch out for when filing Form 1099-NEC:

Not Collecting W-9 Forms

One of the most common mistakes made by businesses when dealing with Form 1099-NEC is not collecting a completed Form W-9 from each contractor before they start work. This form contains important information like the contractor's Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN), which is necessary for accurately completing Form 1099-NEC. Ensure to collect Form W-9 from each contractor in a timely manner to avoid potential complications.

Missing the Filing Deadline

Failing to file Form 1099-NEC by the deadline, January 31st, can result in penalties from the IRS. The penalties increase with the length of delay and can become quite substantial over time. Always keep track of the filing deadline and ensure to file the forms on time.

Filing Incorrect Amounts

It's essential to accurately report the total nonemployee compensation in Box 1 of Form 1099-NEC. Misreporting the amounts, either by underreporting or overreporting, can lead to discrepancies with the IRS and may trigger an audit.

Not Filing for Payments Under $600

Even though the IRS requires businesses to file Form 1099-NEC only when they pay a nonemployee $600 or more in a year, it's a good practice to file the form for lower amounts as well. This helps maintain accurate records and provides a clear financial trail.

Not Keeping Copies for Records

Not keeping a copy of each Form 1099-NEC for your records can create significant issues if there's a discrepancy or an audit down the line. It's important to keep copies of all tax forms for at least three years from the due date of the return.

Not Updating Recipient Information

It's essential to update the recipient's information, such as their name and TIN, before filing Form 1099-NEC. Failing to do so can lead to errors in reporting and may raise a red flag with the IRS. Always double-check the recipient information before you file.

Consequences of Filing Incorrect or Late Form 1099-NEC

Filing an incorrect or late Form 1099-NEC can have serious implications. The IRS may impose penalties, with the amount depending on the size of your business and how late the forms were filed. For smaller businesses, the penalty can range from $50 per form if you're less than 30 days late and up to $270 per form if you're more than 30 days late. More substantial penalties apply to larger businesses.

Moreover, if the IRS concludes that there was intentional disregard of the requirement to provide a correct payee statement, the penalty per form can be $550 with no maximum.

Aside from the monetary penalties, a late or incorrect filing can lead to a stressful and time-consuming audit process. It may also damage your professional relationship with your contractors, as they may face complications in their tax filing due to your late or incorrect reporting.

In more severe cases, consistent failure to file correct Forms 1099-NEC can even result in criminal charges, imprisonment, or both. Therefore, it's crucial to take the necessary steps to gather accurate information, meet the IRS deadlines, and file your 1099-NEC forms correctly.


Form 1099-NEC is an important document for businesses that pay nonemployee compensation during the year. It's essential to file it accurately and on time to ensure compliance with IRS regulations and avoid costly penalties or audits.

Make sure you take the necessary steps to collect all relevant information, prepare the form correctly, distribute copies of the form to your contractors, and file the form with the IRS in a timely manner. If you have any questions or doubts, consult with a tax professional for advice. With the right preparation and knowledge, filing Form 1099-NEC can be a straightforward process.


Is there a template for 1099 NEC?

Yes, the IRS provides a template for Form 1099-NEC on their website. It has all the necessary instructions and information needed to complete the form accurately.

Can I print 1099 NEC on plain paper?

No, the IRS requires that Form 1099-NEC be printed on special security paper. You can buy this from most office supply stores or online.

How do I print a 1099 NEC in Excel?

You can use the IRS template to create Form 1099-NEC in Excel. Make sure you follow all instructions and fill out all fields correctly. After that, you can print it on special security paper for filing with the IRS.

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