Every year, millions of businesses across the United States file information returns with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to report payments made to individuals and businesses. These returns play a crucial role in ensuring accurate tax reporting and collection. However, for many businesses, navigating the world of information returns can be confusing. This blog post specifically focuses on IRS Form 1096, a seemingly simple form that can trip up even the most organized business owners.

What is IRS Form 1096?

IRS Form 1096, titled "Annual Summary and Transmittal of U.S. Information Returns," serves a specific purpose. It's not an information return itself but rather a transmittal form used to accompany paper-filed Forms 1097, 1098, 1099, 3921, 3922, 5498, and W-2G. These forms report various types of income, such as interest payments, dividends, non-employee compensation, and certain taxable benefits, paid to individuals or entities during the tax year.

Who Needs to File IRS Form 1096?

The responsibility to file IRS Form 1096 falls on any person or entity that files any of the aforementioned information returns (Forms 1097, 1098, 1099, etc.) on paper. This includes businesses, corporations, financial institutions, and other entities that make payments that require reporting on these forms.

Exceptions to Filing IRS Form 1096

There are a few exceptions to the requirement to file IRS Form 1096. If you file your information returns electronically, you don't need to submit Form 1096. Additionally, Form 5498-QA, used to report qualified education loan payments, can only be filed electronically, regardless of the number of returns submitted.

What Information Does IRS Form 1096 Include?

IRS Form 1096 is a relatively straightforward form. It collects essential information to help the IRS efficiently process the accompanying information returns. Here's a breakdown of the key fields:

• Filer's Name, Address, and TIN: This section identifies the entity submitting the information returns.

• Form Types and Counts: This section specifies the types of information returns being transmitted (e.g., number of Forms 1099-MISC filed).

• Total Amount Reported: This section summarizes the total dollar amount reported on all the accompanying information returns.

• Software Used (Optional): This section allows you to indicate if you used any specific software to generate the information returns.

Where to Find and How to File IRS Form 1096

IRS Form 1096 can be downloaded for free from the IRS website https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1096.pdf. It's important to note that the official printed version of the form is scannable, while copies downloaded from the website are not. Using a non-scannable form can lead to penalties, so ensure you obtain the official version if filing paper returns.

Penalties for Non-Compliance with IRS Form 1096

Failing to file IRS Form 1096 or filing an incorrect form can lead to penalties. The specific penalty amount depends on the number of information returns you're required to file and the number of days you're late in filing.

Key Takeaways and Action Steps

While seemingly simple, IRS Form 1096 plays a vital role in ensuring accurate tax reporting. Here are some key takeaways and action steps to remember:

• File Form 1096 only if you're filing paper information returns (Forms 1097, 1098, 1099, etc.).

• Download the official scannable version of Form 1096 from the IRS website.

• Ensure your name, address, and Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) match the information used on your tax return.

• Accurately report the types and number of information returns you're submitting.

• Consider filing information returns electronically to avoid the need for Form 1096.


Understanding IRS Form 1096 and its purpose is crucial for businesses that file paper information returns. By following the guidelines outlined above, you can ensure timely and accurate filing, avoiding potential penalties from the IRS. Remember, staying compliant with tax regulations is essential for any business, and navigating forms like IRS Form 1096 demonstrates