When you submit your own personal tax returns, the number of documents involved is fairly limited. Many employers and other businesses, however, find themselves submitting dozens or hundreds, or more, copies of various 1099s, 5498s, or other forms. IRS Form 1096 is like a cover sheet for submitting multiple forms of a single type. It contains basic information about the documents with which it is included.
Completing Form 1096
A Form 1096 is required for each form type being submitted (Forms 1099, 1098, 3921, 3922, 5498, W-2G, 5498, 5498-ESA and 5498-SA). All accompanying forms should be separated by form type and transmitted with a separate Form 1096. It is essential before sending any forms, that the correct identifying information for the filer be included on Form 1096.
Fill out your correct contact information on the top half of the form and include either your EIN (Box 1) or Social Security number (Box 2). The total number of forms being submitted with the Form 1096 is recorded in Box 3, and the total amount of federal withholding reported by the forms is indicated in Box 4. The information used to calculate the figure recorded in Box 5 of Form 1096 depends on the type of forms being filed (see instructions on page 2 of Form 1096 for complete details). Box 6 is used to identify the form number being submitted. Only mark an "X" in Box 7 if this is the last submission of this form type for any, including future, tax periods.
Form 1096 is used for paper (non-electronic) submissions. When filing 250 of a single form, electronic filing is required (see Publication 1220 in Additional Resources for more on electronic transmittal). Forms 1099-MISC and Forms 1099-DIV are treated as separate entities. For example, if filing 200 copies of Form 1099-MISC and 100 copies 1099-DIV, you can submitted on paper through the mail with a Form 1096 coversheet for each type of form. However, if you are submitting 250 copies of Form 1099-MISC and 50 copies of 1099-DIV, the 1099-MISC forms must be submitted electronically, but the 1099-MISC can be submitted on paper.
It is essential before sending any forms, that the correct identifying information for the filer be included on Form 1096. The necessary information is the filer's name, street address, the name of a contact person, telephone number, fax number, and email address. The completed 1096, along with the forms being transmitted, can be sent either to the Austin, Texas or Kansas City, Missouri IRS Center (see Form 1096 for complete address), depending on the filer's street address. Note that Forms 1099, 1098, 3921, 3922, and W-2G, must be filed by March 1; Forms 5498, 5498-ESA, and 5498-SA by June 1.
Joseph Nicholson is an independent analyst whose publishing achievements include a cover feature for "Futures Magazine" and a recurring column in the monthly newsletter of a private mint. He received a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Florida and is currently attending law school in San Francisco.