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What Are Information Returns – IRS 1099 Tax Form Types & Variants


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IRS form 1099 isn’t just one form. It’s a series of forms the Internal Revenue Service refers to as “information returns.” These forms provide information on different types of income you might receive other than wages, salaries, and tips.

What Are Information Returns?

Information returns serve two purposes:

  1. They report certain transactions to the IRS.
  2. They provide information on those transactions to the taxpayer to help them prepare their tax return.

Essentially, information returns show income you received or deductible expenses you paid during the year. You use the information on the form to complete your tax return. Then, the IRS compares your tax return to the amounts reported on information returns to ensure you correctly reported your taxable income and deductions.

You don’t have to submit copies of information returns with your Form 1040 income tax return if you e-file your return. However, if you file on paper and your 1099 shows income tax withholding, you need to attach a copy of the form to your tax return.

There are dozens of variations of Form 1099.

Form 1099-INT: Interest Income

You receive Form 1099-INT from your bank account, savings account, or brokerage (if you have a mutual fund account) if you earned more than $10 in interest on all your accounts with the financial institution during the tax year.

The interest income reported on Form 1099-INT may be taxable or tax-exempt, but you still need to report it on your income tax return.

If you paid any early withdrawal penalties — for example, when you cashed out a certificate of deposit early — your financial institution reports those penalties on Form 1099-INT as well. They’re deductible on Schedule 1 of your federal income tax return, and you don’t have to itemize deductions to claim them.

Many banks now issue electronic versions of Form 1099-INT. If you’re expecting one and haven’t received it in your mailbox, log into your bank or brokerage account online to see if Form 1099-INT is available to download.

Form 1099-DIV: Dividend Income

You receive Form 1099-DIV from your bank or other financial institution if you earned more than $10 of dividend income from your account during the tax year. This form also shows any capital gains distributions you receive from mutual funds.

Even if you don’t receive Form 1099-DIV from your financial institution, you’re required to report all your dividend income to the IRS. You can usually find the total dividends received during the calendar year on your year-end statement.

Form 1099-R: Distributions From Retirement Accounts

If you move any money around in your retirement accounts during the calendar year, it shows up on a Form 1099-R. Some regular activities that trigger Form 1099-R include:

  • Rolling over funds from a 401(k) retirement plan at your old job into a 401(k) plan at your new job or a rollover individual retirement account (IRA)
  • Moving money from a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA
  • Taking an early distribution to buy a house or pay for college
  • Withdrawing funds during retirement

Don’t be alarmed if you get a tax form when you make a tax-free rollover from one retirement account to another. Box 1 of Form 1099-R shows the total amount you transferred or withdrew, but Box 2a tells you how much is taxable. For a tax-free rollover, Box 2a should be zero or blank.

The code in Box 7 also tells the IRS, your tax preparation software, or your professional tax preparer what kind of withdrawal it was. Check the 1099-R instructions to ensure that’s what you were expecting. If you don’t think it’s accurate, contact the company that issued your IRS tax form and ask for an explanation or a revised form.

If you had federal or state tax withheld, this form also shows how much was withheld, and that will be deducted from the tax you owe with your return.

Form SSA-1099: Social Security Benefits

Once you’ve reached retirement age and have elected to start receiving your Social Security benefits, you receive Form SSA-1099 each year reporting your total Social Security benefits and how much the Social Security Administration (SSA) withheld for federal income taxes.

Form SSA-1099 also shows how much of your benefits the SSA withheld for Medicare premiums and whether you had to repay any benefits during the previous tax year because you received more benefits than you were entitled to. This form is important because some of these benefits may be taxable if you have income from other sources.

Form 1099-MISC: Miscellaneous Income

Form 1099-MISC is a catchall form for various types of income that don’t belong on other forms in the 1099 series. This includes:

  • Royalties
  • Rent
  • Prizes and awards
  • Medical and health care payments
  • Crop insurance proceeds
  • Payments to an attorney
  • Other income

Box 4 of Form 1099-MISC also shows any federal income tax the payer withheld from your income.

Form 1099-NEC: Nonemployee Compensation

If you’re self-employed, own a small business, or perform work as a freelancer or independent contractor, you may receive Form 1099-NEC. The IRS requires companies to report payments made to any nonemployees for services if they paid the person $600 or more in fees or commissions. In most cases, you must report this income on Schedule C attached to your Form 1040 tax return.

In the past, you may have received this information on Form 1099-MISC. But in 2020, the IRS began requiring businesses to report these kinds of payments on Form 1099-NEC instead.

Other 1099 Form Variants

In addition to the more common informational returns, there’s a multitude of very specific 1099 forms for individuals with specialized needs. For a complete list of information returns and general instructions on who needs to issue these forms, check out the IRS’s General Instructions for Certain Information Returns publication.

Those 1099s include:

  • 1099-A: Acquisition or Abandonment of Secured Property
  • 1099-B: Proceeds from Broker and Barter Exchange Transactions
  • 1099-C: Cancellation of Debt
  • 1099-CAP: Changes in Corporate Control and Capital Structure
  • 1099-G: Certain Government Payments
  • 1099-H: Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC) Advance Payments
  • 1099-K: Payment Card and Third Party Network Transactions
  • 1099-LTC: Long-Term Care and Accelerated Death Benefits
  • 1099-LS: Reportable Life Insurance Sale
  • 1099-OID: Original Issue Discount (a form of interest income resulting from companies issuing bonds at a price less than their redemption value)
  • 1099-PATR: Taxable Distributions Received from Cooperatives
  • 1099-Q: Payment from Qualified Education Programs (such as 529 college savings plans and Coverdell education savings accounts)
  • 1099-QA: Distributions from ABLE Accounts
  • 1099-S: Proceeds from Real Estate Transactions
  • 1099-SA: Distributions from an HSA, Archer MSA, or Medicare Advantage MSA
  • 1099-SB: Seller’s Investment in Life Insurance Contract
  • RRB-1099: Payments by the Railroad Retirement Board
  • RRB-1099-R: Annuities or Pensions by the Railroad Retirement Board

Final Word

If you’re waiting for a 1099 to finish your tax filing, check whether the payer issued the form electronically. It might be waiting in your email inbox or available to download when you log into your account online. Otherwise, call the payer to find out when you can expect to receive it.

Dealing with all these tax forms can seem complicated, but it’s usually pretty straightforward if you use tax software like TurboTax or H&R Block. Simply answer questions and input numbers from your 1099 forms, and the tax software takes care of filling out the right forms and calculating your tax refund or amount due.

Janet Berry-Johnson is a Certified Public Accountant. Before leaving the accounting world to focus on freelance writing, she specialized in income tax consulting and compliance for individuals and small businesses. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska with her husband and son and their rescue dog, Dexter.