At tax time, employers have to find a way to squeeze filing their taxes in with everything else they have to do. This includes not only gathering documentation for their own business and personal taxes, but also completing forms for everyone who works for them. For businesses that hire independent contractors, that form is called a 1099-MISC. If you own a business, anyone who performs at least $600 worth of work during the course of the year needs to be claimed using this form. With everything else going on, it might only add unnecessary stress if you have to prepare the forms on the computer and print them. For some people, handwriting each one could be more efficient.
Preparing the Forms
The good news is, as long as you're distributing fewer than 250 of the 1099 forms, handwritten copies are allowed. Once you issue 250 forms or more, you'll need to e-file your forms. The IRS still encourages employers to file electronically, no matter the number of forms, and doing so requires the information to be typewritten.
If you do file a handwritten 1099, the IRS urges you to ensure the handwriting is as legible as possible. They recommend using a block typeface in black ink and avoiding script characters. Since the IRS uses a machine to read the data on the forms, it's important that the data be as uniform as possible.
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As convenient as it may be to handwrite your forms, you should be aware that handwriting the information makes you more prone to errors. In general, e-filed returns are 20 times less likely to contain errors, according to the IRS, and hastily jotting down all of your contractors' information could cause you to make a mistake.
If you do decide to handwrite your 1099s, make an extra effort to carefully check every name, address, social security number and income amount. One small mistake can lead to delays and possibly even trigger an audit. You also should make sure you're entering the information in the correct boxes, since the sheer number of options can be confusing.
Completing your 1099 forms by hand can save time for some people, but it also can lead to mistakes. As long as you make it a point to double-check your information before handing the forms over to employees, you can avoid costly errors. Over time, though, you might decide e-filing is a safer, quicker option, especially if it keeps you from having to double- and triple-check your forms for mistakes.