The U.S. tax system is complicated, complex, and the IRS has hundreds of forms to account for different reporting needs. One of the biggest confusions for individuals is the difference between Form 1099 and the W-2. Both are important, absolutely required, but serve very different purposes.

Form 1099

There are multiple types of Form 1099. The most common is used to report various types of payments that are made by a business or individual that’s not an individual’s regular employer. The person that made the payments completes the appropriate details and sends a copy to the payee and the IRS at tax time.

A Form 1099-MISC is used by the government to report income such as Medicare earnings. It’s also used to report prizes and awards, fishing boat proceeds, medical and healthcare payments, and crop insurance proceeds. Form 1099-MISC is also utilized to report earnings from direct sales of at least $5,000.


In comparison, individuals complete a W-2 when they start a new job. It tells the employer how much money to withhold in federal, state and Social Security (FICA) taxes from each paycheck. The IRS utilizes that information to track each person’s earnings and income every year from employment. IRS rules state that employers must provide individuals with their W-2 by Jan. 31st of each year.

The form is used each year when an individual files their annual income tax returns. The W-2 shows the amount of any benefits that may have been paid by the employer on an employee’s behalf that encompasses items ranging from health savings accounts (HSA) and number of dependents to insurance benefits.

If there are any errors such as name misspellings, incorrect Social Security number, or an incorrect amount, individuals should contact their employer for a corrected copy of their W-2. Independent contractors should receive a 1099-NEC instead of a W-2.

At Peavy and Associates PC our mission is to assist you with all your tax preparations, payroll and accounting needs.  We provide our clients with professional, personalized accounting services and guidance in a wide range of financial and business needs. Give us a call today and discover why our clients return to Peavy and Associates, PC year after year!


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