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

File Transmittal Forms for W-2s and 1099s

People doing taxes
••• PeopleImages/DigitalVision/Getty Images

IRS Forms W-3 and 1096 are summary transmittal forms that must accompany W-2s given to employees and 1099-MISC forms given to non-employees when you file copies with the government. Here's what you need to know to do it right: 

Due Dates 

The due date for W-3s and 1096 forms for the 2016 tax year is January 31, 2017. This is a new earlier date. 

Read more about the New W-2 and 1099 Tax Report Deadlines. 

Form W-3 and your employee W-2s are submitted to the Social Security Administration.

All 1096 forms along with their corresponding 1099s are submitted to the Internal Revenue Service. 

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 due date for the current tax year. Form W-3 totals all data from W-2 forms for all your employees. Learn 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 it. You can only use purchased W-3 forms which use a special red ink. You can submit the form in one of two ways:

  • By mail to the 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 information from all Form 1099s you've distributed to non-employees.

You do not need to complete and file a 1096 form if you e-file your 1099s. 

Each type of Form 1099 must have its own Form 1096. For example, you must have a 1096 compilation for all 1099-MISC forms you've provided to independent contractors and others to whom you paid $600 or more during the year, and you'll need another 1096 form if you provide 1099-DIV forms to anyone for dividend payments.

Preparing Form 1096

You must total all the information on the 1099 forms for each type you have provided to prepare Form 1096. A few additional requirements include: 

  • You must file electronically if you submit 250 or more forms. 
  • All the information on the 1096 about you (the filer) must be the same as it appears on the 1099-MISC forms you are submitting, including your EIN. 
  • You must submit the RED scannable form to the IRS. Don't download and print a 1096 from the Internet and submit it. Although it appears in red, it's not scannable. You could be subject to a fine for submitting a 1096 form that is not scannable.

Read more details about how to complete Form 1096.

Filing Form 1096

Confused About Which Form to Provide? 

If you're confused about which form to provide to a worker—​Form W-2 or 1099-MISC—​​this article explains the difference.  

Errors on W-3s and 1096 Forms 

If you make a mistake on a W-2, you must file Form W-2c. 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 a little more complicated than that, so please read General Instructions for Certain Information Returns

NOTE: Tax laws change periodically, and you should consult with a tax professional for the most up-to-date advice. The information contained in this article is not intended as tax advice and is not a substitute for tax advice.​