Independent contractors are often not aware of the implications of Form 1099s. If you receive a 1099, it is important to know how this affects your taxes and what you need to do in order to prepare for next year.
This blog post will outline some of the most popular 1099 questions, and give you the answers you need. We'll also explore some of the things that contractors should be aware of if they have received a form 1099. Let's dive in.
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The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) refers to 1099 forms as "information returns." Other than your employer's salary, you may receive a variety of different types of income throughout the year. These income or payments could include:
All these payments are reported to the IRS using 1099 Forms. Companies who pay independent contractors or freelancers need to submit these forms to both the IRS and 1099 workers.
The main purpose of these reporting forms is so that people who do not directly report their income, such as independent contractors, freelancers, small business owners, etc., may still be able to file their taxes correctly (and therefore be exempt from penalties related to filing incorrectly) by using these reports.
For example, if you are an independent contractor who is paid in cash and does not receive a W-2 form at the end of the year, then your client/company should send you a 1099-NEC form. This form reports your income to the IRS and allows you, the independent contractor, to fill out a Schedule C form for self-employment taxes.
Any business or person who has paid a non-corporate vendor more than the threshold amount in any year should send out a 1099 form to that vendor.
If you paid $600 or more in compensation to non-employees, sub-contractors, freelancers, attorneys, or other contractors in the prior year, you must send them a Form 1099-NEC and report the amounts to the IRS.
No, you don't need a 1099 form to file your taxes. If you receive a 1099 it will help you file your income returns and avoid potential penalties for filing incorrectly.
The penalty for underreporting income or not reporting it at all is usually 5% of whatever amount should have been reported, per month, with a maximum of 25%.
It may appear that correcting 1099 mistakes is tough, but it's not. All you have to do is fill out a new, correct form and mail it to the IRS with the "corrected" checkbox checked. By doing so, the IRS will be able to differentiate your new form from others that are either voided or filed for the first time.
Keep in mind that your amended return also needs to be accompanied by a new form 1096.
One of the benefits of being a 1099 worker is that you can deduct some of the expenses that you incur in your line of work. Keep in mind that there are so many deductions you can claim when you’re a solopreneur. Tax software for contractors such as Bonsai Tax can help you identify all your potential write-offs so you can save money come tax season.
This list of expenses below are all possible deductions when filing your taxes as a 1099 worker:
Also, be sure that you keep good records of the above expenses, in case something gets challenged later. You don't want to get audited without any receipt records.
Note: If you don't want the burden of manually tracking receipts for taxes, try Bonsai Tax. Our software will scan your bank/credit card statements to discover tax write-offs instantly. Users save on average of $5,600 from their tax bill. Try a 14-day free trial today.
If you have received a 1099 that doesn't seem to apply to your taxes, then contact whoever provided it and ask them why they sent it. They should be able to tell you whether or not there was actual work done for which the 1099 is intended, or if there was any other reason for issuing it.
If you find yourself in this situation, follow up with your contractor to see whether they plan to send out their forms. If it's getting close to the deadline and you still haven't received anything, then let them know that you will need to file without the necessary information.
The term 1099 worker refers to an independent contractor who is not considered an employee by the federal government. If you are an independent worker, you may have heard the term 1099 before in reference to filing taxes at the end of each year.
The biggest difference between workers who receive W2s and those who receive 1099s is how their employers report income. When you work as an employee, your employer reports income on form W2 at the end of each year.
W2s have taxes withheld from them already, which means you don't have to pay taxes yourself at the end of the year when filing your federal income tax return.
On the other hand, independent contractors and freelancers use 1099s to report their own taxable income to the IRS. Workers who receive 1099s have complete responsibility for paying their own taxes every year via quarterly estimated tax payments.
In addition, employers do not withhold any of this money from your paycheck so it's up to workers with 1099s to make sure they set enough money aside throughout the year in order to cover their additional tax expenses.
1099s need to be filed by the end of January for the previous year's earnings. Usually, this means you should have all 1099s sent out by mid-January. If you were paid less than $600, a business is not required to send you a 1099 tax form. If you didn't get a 1099, you still need to file income taxes. You only don't have to file self-employment taxes if you made less than $400 as a contractor.
You will want the contact information of your independent contractor, the full legal name of the contractor, their address, and Social Security Number (SSN) or Tax ID Number (EIN).
If you use an EIN, note that you are still required by law to include your company's Federal Tax ID Number on your 1099s in addition to your own SSN. Any interest income should also be reported along with any dividends.
As a general rule, you are going to have to pay estimated taxes if you expect to owe at least $1,000 in taxes after subtracting your withholdings and credits, and your withholding amount is greater than the smaller of:
So if you received a 1099 from an employer for this past tax year, add it up again with what you actually made for this past year so far (even if it hasn't been reported yet). If you forget to pay quarterly taxes, you may receive a penalty at the end of the year.
If that number means that next tax season when you do your taxes you will owe at least $1,000 in federal taxes then chances are good that come next April you will have to pay estimated taxes. To learn more, read our guide for filing quarterly taxes.
There are various kinds of 1099 tax forms. Here's a brief overview of the most common 1099s to help you navigate any confusion:
Independent contractors who have received interest income will receive this form.
You should receive this form if you are an independent contractor and have investments that gave you dividends.
This form is used to report distributions from pensions, annuities, retirement plans, etc. This also includes any non-employee compensation like participant loans.
If someone has paid for real estate transactions (like selling your home or making a profit on the sale of rental property), they'll be required to send you this form that reports the transactions.
The IRS uses this information to determine whether investment brokers need to file an information return for customers with transactions that result in gains or losses.
If you have received a cancellation of debt that is more than $600, then they will send you this form which is used to report income.
This form documents your payments made via credit or debit cards and the third parties involved in those transactions. Also, depending on what State you live in, you may receive a 1099-K instead of a 1099-NEC. Typically, eBay sellers receive a 1099-K.
The 1099-MISC is a catch-all for income that doesn't fit into any of the other 1099 categories, although it has certain applications. Prizes are one such case.
Prior to 2020, the 1099-MISC was used to report non-employee compensation.
The IRS replaced the reporting requirement with the 1099-NEC to record money paid to individuals who did work for them but were not employees. In other words, if you freelanced, were self-employed, or had a side business, your clients should provide you with a 1099-NEC rather than a 1099-MISC starting in early 2021. Check out our resource on the steps to file a 1099-NEC.
It's not the end of the world if you miss the filing deadline, but you'll have to pay IRS fines for each late 1099 form. Here are the potential penalties for missing a deadline:
Failing to file your 1099 forms intentionally can attract a minimum penalty of $530 per statement, with no upper limit. How much you're fined is determined by when you submit the correct information return.
That said, if you miss the deadline, you can get an extension via IRS Form 8809. The form, however, can't help you extend the January 31 deadline -- the time you should submit a copy of a 1099 form to 1099 workers.
The term "independent contractor" sounds appealing to some workers who want to be their own bosses and have more freedom over how much money they make each year without having to deal with being laid off or furloughed by an employer.
On paper, it may seem like there are fewer restrictions when working as an independent contractor because you don't have any taxes taken out of your paycheck or benefits that often accompany traditional employment. You also don't have to deal with the HR department at your company, which means no 401k contributions or health care plans.
The disadvantages of being an independent contractor are that you're responsible for paying your own taxes (you will not see any taken out of your paychecks like you would as a traditional employee) and filing them at the end of each year. You also do not receive benefits like health care or paid vacation time like full-time employees do.
A verbal contract (formally called an oral contract) refers to an agreement between two parties that's made —you guessed it— verbally.
Formal contracts, like those between an employee and an employer, are typically written down. However, some professional transactions take place based on verbally agreed terms.
Freelancers are a good example of this. Often, freelancers will take on projects having agreed on the terms and payment via the phone, or an email. Unfortunately, sometimes clients don't pull through on their agreements, and hardworking freelancers can find themselves out of pocket and wondering whether a legal battle is worth all the hassle.
The main differences between written and oral contracts are that the former is signed and documented, whereas the latter is solely attributed to verbal communication.
Verbal contracts are a bit of a gray area for most people unfamiliar with contract law —which is most of us, right?— due to the fact that there's no physical evidence to support the claims made by the implemented parties.
For any contract (written or verbal) to be binding, there are four major elements which need to be in place. The crucial elements of a contract are as follows:
Therefore, an oral agreement has legal validity if all of these elements are present. However, verbal contracts can be difficult to enforce in a court of law. In the next section, we take a look at how oral agreements hold up in court.
Most business professionals are wary of entering into contracts orally because they can difficult to enforce in the face of the law.
If an oral contract is brought in front of a court of law, there is increased risk of one party (or both!) lying about the initial terms of the agreement. This is problematic for the court, as there's no unbiased way to conclude the case; often, this will result in the case being disregarded. Moreover, it can be difficult to outline contract defects if it's not in writing.
That being said, there are plenty of situations where enforceable contracts do not need to be written or spoken, they're simply implied. For instance, when you buy milk from a store, you give something in exchange for something else and enter into an implied contract, in this case - money is exchanged for goods.
There are some types of contracts which must be in writing.
The Statute of Frauds is a legal statute which states that certain kinds of contracts must be executed in writing and signed by the parties involved. The Statute of Frauds has been adopted in almost all U.S states, and requires a written contract for the following purposes:
Typically, a court of law won't enforce an oral agreement in any of these circumstances under the statute. Instead, a written document is required to make the contract enforceable.
Contract law is generally doesn't favor contracts agreed upon verbally. A verbal agreement is difficult to prove, and can be used by those intent on committing fraud. For that reason, it's always best to put any agreements in writing and ensure all parties have fully understood and consented to signing.
Verbal agreements can be proven with actions in the absence of physical documentation. Any oral promise to provide the sale of goods or perform a service that you agreed to counts as a valid contract. So, when facing a court of law, what evidence can you provide to enforce a verbal agreement?
Unfortunately, without solid proof, it may be difficult to convince a court of the legality of an oral contract. Without witnesses to testify to the oral agreement taking place or other forms of evidence, oral contracts won't stand up in court. Instead, it becomes a matter of "he-said-she-said" - which legal professionals definitely don't have time for!
If you were to enter into a verbal contract, it's recommended to follow up with an email or a letter confirming the offer, the terms of the agreement , and payment conditions. The more you can document the elements of a contract, the better your chances of legally enforcing a oral contract.
Another option is to make a recording of the conversation where the agreement is verbalized. This can be used to support your claims in the absence of a written agreement. However, it's always best to gain the permission of the other involved parties before hitting record.
Fundamentally, most verbal agreements are legally valid as long as they meet all the requirements for a contract. However, if you were to go to court over one party not fulfilling the terms of the contract, proving that the interaction took place can be extremely taxing.
So, ultimately, the question is: written or verbal agreements?
Any good lawyer, contract law firm, or legal professional would advise you to make sure you formalize any professional agreement with a written agreement. Written contracts provide a secure testament to the conditions that were agreed and signed by the two parties involved. If it comes to it, a physical contract is much easier to eviden in legal circumstances.
Freelancers, in particular, should be aware of the extra security that digital contracts may provide. Many people choose to stick to executing contracts verbally because they're not sure how to write a contract, or they think writing out the contract terms is too complicated or requires expensive legal advice. However, this is no longer the case.
Today, we have a world of resources available at our fingertips. The internet is a treasure trove of invaluable information, platforms, and software that simplifies our lives. Creating, signing, and sending contracts has never been easier. What's more, you don't have to rely on a hiring a lawyer to explain all that legal jargon anymore.
There are plenty of tools available online for freelancers to use for guidance when drafting digital contracts. Tools like Bonsai provide a range of customizable, vetted contract templates for all kinds of freelance professionals. No matter what industry you're operating in, Bonsai has a professional template to offer.
A written contract makes the agreement much easier to prove the terms of the agreement in case something were to go awry. The two parties involved can rest assured that they're legal rights are protected, and the terms of the contract are sufficiently documented. Plus, it provides both parties with peace of mind to focus on the tasks at hand.
Bonsai's product suite for freelancers allows users to make contracts from scratch, or using professional templates, and sign them using an online signature maker.
With Bonsai, you can streamline and automate all of the boring back-office tasks that come with being a freelancer. From creating proposals that clients can't say no to, to sealing the deal with a professional contract - Bonsai will revolutionize the way you do business as a freelancer.
Why not secure your business today and sign up for a free trial?