What If You Receive an Incorrect Form 1099-NEC?

Find out what to do if the Form 1099-NEC you receive is incorrect.

By , J.D. · USC Gould School of Law
Updated by Amy Loftsgordon, Attorney · University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Employers deduct income tax from their employees' paychecks and remit and report it to the IRS. They give all their employees an IRS Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, showing wages and withholding for the year. Employees must file a copy of the W-2 with their income tax returns so that the IRS can compare the amount of income they report with the amounts their employers claim they were paid.

When you're self-employed, no income tax is withheld from your compensation, and you don't get a W-2 form. However, this doesn't mean that the IRS won't have at least some idea of how much money you've made.

If the total of all the payments you receive from a client over a year is $600 or more, the client must complete and file IRS Form 1099-NEC, Nonemployee Compensation, reporting the payments. (Note that IRS Form 1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Information was used in 2020 and earlier to report payments to independent contractors in prior years. However, Form 1099-MISC now reports other miscellaneous income, like rent and prizes.)

1099-NEC Filing Requirements

The client must complete and file a copy of Form 1099 with:

  • the IRS
  • your state tax office if your state has income tax, and
  • you.

To make sure you're not underreporting your income, IRS computers check the amounts listed on your 1099 Forms against the amount of income you report on your tax return. If the amounts don't match, you have a good chance of being flagged for an audit.

You don't have to file the 1099 forms with your tax return. Just keep them in your records.

What Should I Do About 1099s with Errors?

You should receive all your 1099 forms for the previous year by January 31st of the current year. Make sure the hiring firms you worked for have your current address, or the forms might not arrive on time (or at all).

Check the amount of compensation your clients say they paid you in each Form 1099 against your own records to make sure they're consistent. If there's a mistake, call the client immediately and request a corrected Form 1099.

If the 1099 has been filed with the IRS, ask the client to send the IRS a corrected 1099. You don't want the IRS to think you were paid more than you really owe. The 1099-NEC form has a special box that should be checked to show that it is correcting a prior 1099 form.

What If No 1099-NEC Is Sent?

It's not unusual for clients to fail to file 1099 forms. This might be unintentional—for example, the client might not understand the rules or might just be negligent in filing them. On the other hand, some clients purposefully fail to file 1099 forms because they don't want the IRS to know they're hiring independent contractors.

If you don't receive a 1099 you're expecting from someone that has your correct address, should you contact them and ask for it? This approach isn't necessary. It's not your duty to see that 1099 forms are filed. This is your client's responsibility. The IRS won't impose any fines or penalties on you if a client fails to file a 1099. It might, however, impose a fine on the client—and exact far more severe penalties if an IRS audit reveals that the client should have classified you as an employee.

Whether or not you receive a Form 1099, it's your duty to report all the self-employment income you earn each year to the IRS. If you're audited by the IRS, it may examine your bank records to make sure you haven't underreported your income. If you underreported, you'll have to pay back taxes, fines, and penalties.

So, keep records of all the nonemployee income that you earn throughout the year. If you take this precautionary step, you'll be well prepared to file your taxes even if someone doesn't send you a 1099-NEC you're expecting.

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