Mastering Form 1096: The Essential Guide

IRS Form 1096, Annual Summary and Transmittal of U.S. Information Returns, is used as a summary or “cover sheet” to various types of other forms only when submitting a paper filing to the IRS.

What is IRS Form 1096 and what is it used for?

It provides the IRS with more information regarding the filing, such as the filer, what type of filing is being submitted, and the total amount being reported. Unlike Form W-3 which serves as a transmittal for only ONE form type, Form 1096 serves as a transmittal for various form types, including:

This list of forms above only includes the parent form type, and each parent form type can include many different versions of forms. For example, Form 1099 has 1099-NEC1099-MISC1099-DIV1099-INT and many more. Form 1096 will always be the summary form for any type of Form 1099.

Form 1096 – Section 6 has more than 30 indicator boxes for form type. For each Form 1096 that is submitted, you must select only one box to indicate the type of filing being sent.

IRS Form 1096
Image of Form 1096

What information is reported on Form 1096?

Form 1096 is a fairly simple form. It includes a section for the filer’s information, such as name, address, and contact information. If the payer is using a transfer agent, then their name should also be listed in the filer’s name section. It also includes the following boxes:

  • Box 1 – Employer identification number (EIN)
  • Box 2 – Social security number (SSN)
  • Box 3 – Total number of forms
  • Box 4 – Federal income tax withheld
  • Box 5 – Total amount reported with this Form 1096
  • Box 6 – Form type indication – The filer should enter an “x” in only one of the 32 boxes to indicate the form type that is being filed.

How do I find the total number of forms for Form 1096 Box 3?

Box 3 may seem straightforward, but counting forms can be trickier than you think. We have three tips:

  • Make sure to subtract any blank or voided forms from the total.
  • Do not count Form 1096 in the total.
  • A form that contains information about one individual on multiple pages should only be counted as one form.

Essentially, the IRS wants a total recipient count, not a total amount of pages for the submission.

1096 Total Form Coounts
How to calculate 1096 total form count Box 3

How do I calculate Box 4 – federal income tax withheld?

Form 1096 – Box 4 is used to indicate the cumulative amount of federal income tax withheld across all accompanying forms.

To get this total, simply add any federal income tax withheld on all of the forms within the filing. Then enter this amount in box 4.

How do I calculate Box 5 – total amount reported?

Form 1096 – Box 5 shows the total amount reported with this Form 1096.

Calculating the amount for box 5 is determinant by the form type being filed. Each form type uses a different box to calculate this amount, so you cannot simply add all of the dollars that are reported within the filing.

Below we have listed the form types and which box is used to calculate total amount report.

  • Forms W-2G, 1097-BTC, 1098-E, 1098-F, 1099-LS, 1099-NEC, 1099-Q, 1099-QA, 1099-R, 1099-SA, 5498-SA
    • Box 1
  • Forms 1099-C, 1099-CAP, 1099-S
    • Box 2
  • Forms 1099-LTC, 1099-SB, 5498-ESA, 5498-QA
    • Boxes 1 & 2
  • Form 1098
    • Boxes 1 & 6
  • Form 1098-C
    • Box 4c
  • Form 1098-Q
    • Box 4
  • Form 1099-B
    • Boxes 1d & 13
  • Form 1099-DIV
    • Boxes 1a, 2a, 3, 9, 10, 12
  • Form 1099-INT
    • Boxes 1, 3, 8, 10, 11, 13
  • Form 1099-K
    • Box 1a
  • Form 1099-MISC
    • Boxes 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14
  • Form 1099-OID
    • Boxes 1, 2, 5, 6, 8
  • Form 1099-PATR
    • Boxes 1, 2, 3, 5
  • Form 3921
    • Boxes 3 & 4
  • Form 3922
    • Boxes 3, 4, 5
  • Form 5498
    • Boxes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, 12b, 13a, 14a

Please note that no entry is required in Box 5 for Forms 1098-T, 1099-A, and 1099-G.

Calculate 1096 Box 5
How to Calculate 1096 Box 5

What if I incorrectly calculate the amount in Box 5 – total amount reported?

Those who opt to paper file their Form 1096 filing must find the correct total amount reported (box 5).

This step is very important, as this is how the IRS determines if the filing has been read and processed correctly. If the amounts do not equate to one another after processing, the IRS will believe forms are missing and mark the whole submission as “Rejected.” This can lead to penalty and fines from the IRS.

If you’re looking for a broken down Understanding Form 1096 guide in a downloadable format, make sure to download our PDF guide to keep a copy next to you at all times.

Who must file Form 1096?

Businesses required to file any of the associated forms on the 1096 section 6 below must provide an official Form 1096 when choosing to paper file forms. The 1096 must be sent with each form type with only one “X” in section 6. This means businesses may fill out more than one 1096 when filing multiple form types. A 1096 or cover sheet is required for all paper fillings.

I need to file for multiple form types. Can I use the same IRS Form 1096?

No, you cannot. If a business needs to file multiple types of forms that require a Form 1096 transmittal, then a separate Form 1096 must be sent for each filing type.

For example, if a business needs to file Form 1098 and Form 1099-MISC, then a separate Form 1096 must be completed for each filing. This is the case even if the business is paper filing two different versions of Form 1099, such as Form 1099-MISC and Form 1099-NEC.

How do I file a 1096 for a contractor?

A contractor should not receive a Form 1096, as this is only a transmittal/cover sheet form. Therefore, it is only important when submitting a paper filing to the IRS. The contractor should only receive the form type that would have been checked on the cover sheet, i.e. Form 1099-NEC.

Can I submit a paper filing of Form 1096?

Filers may choose to paper file their 1096 and accompanying forms to the IRS if their total form count across all filings and filing types is less than the 10-form threshold. E-filing is encouraged by the IRS, but if you have less than 10 total forms to file, then paper filing is an option.

How is the mailable 10-form threshold calculated?

Filers must find the sum of the following form types to determine if they must electronically file:

  • Form 1042-S
  • Form 1094 series
  • Form 1095-B
  • Form 1095-C
  • Form 1097-BTC
  • Form 1098
  • Form 1098-C
  • Form 1098-E
  • Form 1098-Q
  • Form 1098-T
  • Form 1099 series
  • Form 3921
  • Form 3922
  • Form 5498 series
  • Form 8027
  • Forms W-2
  • Form W-2G

If a filer has 10 or more of these forms total, then they must submit electronic filings.

IRS Form Count Threshold
IRS Form Count Threshold

What are the paper filing form requirements?

The following is a short list of requirements for filing via mail:

  • Handwritten forms are accepted but must be legible for machine processing
  • Data must be in the middle of blocks
  • Do not use “$” for reporting amounts
  • Do not use “0” or “None” for blank reporting
  • Do not staple or fold forms

Please note that this is just a sample. There are entire publications filled with requirements that businesses must follow when filing forms with the IRS. Paper filing can be cumbersome, so we recommend finding an e-Filing software provider.

Due to the extensive requirements that must be followed for the filing to be accepted, we do not recommend sending forms by mail.

Can I print Form 1096 using my own printer?

Unfortunately, you cannot. When submitting a paper filing, the forms are scanned by a machine which requires that the actual form meet certain requirements, such as being printed with special red ink. In order to satisfy IRS form requirements, we recommend ordering forms directly from the IRS. Using unofficial forms can result in rejection, fines and penalties against the business, even if the filing was mailed on time with accurate information.

Where do I mail Form 1096 and my accompanying forms?

Mailing in Form 1096 and the corresponding forms isn’t as simple as it may seem. The mailing address is dependent upon the filer’s business address, specifically, the state. We recommend finding your state of business in the graphic below for the approved IRS mailing address for the 1096 and corresponding forms.

Mail In Form 1096 & 1099 by State
Mail In Form 1096 & 1099 by State

Is Form 1096 included when filing electronically?

No, it is not. One of the advantages of e-filing is the ability to generate Form 1096 for a business without using an actual form. E-filing is encouraged and provides many benefits, including immediate submission, quick turnaround time, status updates and more. It will also save filers time, because they won’t have to manually complete Form 1096.

If choosing to submit your filing electronically, be sure to find an authorized Form 1099 software provider to make e-filing quick and easy!

When is the Form 1096 submission deadline?

This question has several correct answers, depending upon the form type being filed. Traditionally, the paper filing deadlines are as follows:

  • January 31st – Form 1099-NEC
  • February 28th – Form types 1097, 1098, 1099 (excluding 1099-NEC), 3921, 3922, and W-2G
  • May 31st – Form 5498

If any of these deadlines fall on a weekend or legal holiday, then the due date is typically the following business day. It’s always good to verify this information with the current IRS instructions for the form type being filed.

Please note, this is only applicable for paper filing. If you choose to e-File, the deadlines may be later than the paper filing deadlines.

Can I request a deadline extension?

Depending upon the form type, filers may request an extension by completing IRS Form 8809, Application for Extension of Time to File Information Returns. If this is submitted electronically, then the extension will be automatic and immediate.

Form 8809 can be used to request an extension for the following forms that use Form 1096 as a transmittal:

  • 1042-S
  • 1097
  • 1098
  • 1099
  • 1099-NEC
  • 1099-QA
  • 3921
  • 3922
  • 5498
  • 5498-ESA
  • 5498-QA
  • 5498-SA
  • 8027
  • W-2G

Is there a penalty for not filing or late filing?

Form 1096 is the transmittal for a variety of form types. Failure to file any of the associated forms may result in a fine or penalty. Check out the graphic below to see how quickly fines can accumulate based on a small sample size of only 10 forms the business should have filed.

TY2023 Penalties General Instructions

What if I need to make corrections to Form 1096?

Since IRS Form 1096 has a very basic format, mistakes are rare, but still possible. Common mistakes include incorrect total amount reported and incorrect number of forms. This type of mistake might go unnoticed until you receive a letter from the IRS. Simply follow the instructions included in the letter as a next course of action and you should be good to go!

If the business is attempting to correct a recipient form that was mailed in, such as a Form 1099-NEC, make sure to check the “Corrected” box and fill out a new Form 1096 with the number of corrected forms being mailed in. No matter the form type, the important step is to check the “corrected” box on the form.


Once you have submitted these forms to the IRS, either electronically or via mail, and have received your “Accepted” status, then you have met all of the IRS requirements for these forms. Learn more about Form 1096 using the link below!

BoomTax, The Boom Post, and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors prior to engaging in any transaction.

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