What is the difference between W-2 and a 1099-MISC Form?
Though both forms are considered information returns, and both report income received, they serve different purposes.
Employers use Form W-2 to report wages, tips, and other compensation paid to employees within a particular year. This form also specifies the employee’s social security, Medicare, Federal, State, and local taxes withheld. The information is reported to the Social Security Administration who then shares the information with the IRS to confirm accurate reporting on individual income Tax Returns.
A more detailed explanation of what the Form W-2 entails can be found in our article Understanding the W-2 Form.
Other payments made in the course of a trade or business to individuals (or unincorporated businesses) who are not employees, are reported on Form 1099-MISC. Non-employee compensation to one particular vendor in amounts of $600 or more per year must be reported on Form 1099-MISC. This form is then sent to the vendor, the IRS, and possibly the state.
Click (appropriate link) to read more about the various types of 1099’s or, to continue to learn more about Form 1099-MISC, read the Ins and Outs of Form 1099-MISC.
The Big Picture
Overall, though both forms are used to report income received, employers are obligated to withhold social security from employees on Form W-2 but, for the majority of circumstances, there are no with-holding requirements for contractors being paid via 1099’s. Because of this, the distinction between being a contractor vs an employee is crucial to understanding whether or not self-employment tax will need to be paid at the time of the filing Form 1040 Individual Income Tax Return.
For help with a smooth tax season, contact the accountants at Private Tax Solutions!N