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How to Prepare and File Form W-3 or Form 1096


Question: How Do I Prepare and File Form W-3 or Form 1096 for 2012?


Form W-3 or Form 1096?
IRS Forms W-3 and 1096 are summary transmittal forms to be filed along with individual forms W-2 given to employees and 1099-MISC forms given to non-employees. Learn what you need to know to file these forms. The most important thing to remember is that Form W-3 and all your employee W-2s are submitted to the Social Security Administration, while all 1096 forms, along with 1099s, are submitted to the IRS.
Due Dates: For 2013 tax year forms, the due date for W-3s and for 1096 forms is February 28. If you file 2013 1099s electronically (you don't need a Form 1096 in this case), the due date is extended to April 1, 2014.

Form W-3 for Employee Year-end Wage and Tax Reports
Form W-3 is the summary transmittal form that must be filed with the Social Security Administration by the last business day in February (February 28 in 2014, for 2013 taxes). Form W-3 totals all the data from all W-2 forms for employees. Read more about how to complete Form W-3.

Submitting Form W-3
Do NOT copy the W-3 form from the IRS website and submit this form. You must use only purchased W-3 forms, which use a special red ink.

You can submit W-3 forms in several ways:

  • By mail to: Social Security Administration, Data Operations Center, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18769-0001
  • Online, through the Social Security Administration's Business Service Online portal.


Form 1096 for Contractor and Outside Business Information Reports
Form 1096 is what the IRS calls a "compilation report," because it totals all the information from all Form 1099s. Each type of Form 1099 must have its own Form 1096; so, for example, you must have a 1096 compilation for 1099-MISC forms you have provided to independent contractors and others to whom you paid $600 or more during the year. You will need another 1096 form for all 1099-DIV forms you provide for dividend payments.

Preparing Form 1096
In order to prepare Form 1096, you will need to total all the information on all the Form 1099s of each type you have provided. Some additional instructions:

  • If you are submitting 250 or more forms, you must file electronically.
  • Be sure that all the information on the 1096 about you (the FILER), including your EIN, is the same as on the 1099-MISC forms you are submitting.
  • You MUST submit the RED Scannable Form to the IRS. Don't download and print a 1096 from the web and submit it; you could be subject to a $50 fine for submitting a 1096 form that is not scannable.


Read more details about how to complete Form 1096

Filing Form 1096

  • You can file Form 1096 by mail, to the appropriate address for your state; listed on Form 1096.
  • You can also file Form 1096 electronically by using the File Information Returns Electronically (FIRE) system.
  • Note: If you file 1099s electronically, you do not have to include Form 1096.


Confused about which form to provide?
If you are still confused about which form to provide to a worker (form W-2 or form 1099-MISC), read this article that describes the difference between W-2s and 1099s-MISC forms.

Errors on W-3s and 1096 Forms
If you make a mistake on a W-2 that affects a W-3, you must file a w-2c and, if the error affects the summary W-3, you must also file a W-3c form correcting the totals. Read more about how to correct W-2 and W-3 forms

If you make a mistake on a 1099 that affects a 1096, you can correct the error by filing a corrected form (designated with an X in the appropriate box), but the correction process is more complicated than this. Read the General Instructions for Certain Information Returns

, starting on page 8, for more information on how to correct 1099s and 1096 forms.



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