What Tax Forms Do I Use to File With a W-2 & 1099-MISC?

by Beverly Bird ; Updated March 15, 2018

There’s no doubt about it – filing your taxes when you have both W-2 income and 1099-MISC income means more work and some extra tax forms. The rules for each are somewhat complicated, but a little understanding of why you’re filing these forms can make the whole situation clearer.

Your W-2 Form

Your W-2 form reports how much you were paid as an employee. Your employer conveniently withheld taxes from those earnings and sent the money to the government on your behalf. The total of all your W-2 income goes on line 7 of the Form 1040 tax return.

The 1099-MISC Form

This form shows income you received as a self-employed taxpayer. You were not actually employed by the individual or company who paid you this money; you performed services as an independent contractor. Payers are required by law to issue 1099-MISC forms whenever they make cumulative payments of $600 or more to any taxpayer during the year. The form is not issued per payment, but for the total amount remitted to you. The IRS gets a copy of the form, too.

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Schedule C

Schedule C is your friend if you have 1099-MISC income. This is the Profit or Loss from Business form. First enter the total of all your 1099 income on the form, including any self-employment income for which you did not receive a Form 1099. If someone paid you less than $600, this doesn’t mean the money’s not taxable. It just means that the company didn’t have to send you a 1099 for it.

Now you get to deduct your costs of doing business: expenses like advertising, a home office you might maintain, supplies and equipment. All this is deducted from your gross income to arrive at your taxable income. If you have more expenses than income, you have a business loss. The amount you arrive at when you’ve completed Schedule C goes on line 12 of your Form 1040 tax return.

You can file Schedule C-EZ instead, which is shorter and easier, if your business expenses are $5,000 or less. If you want to claim a home office, you’ll have to complete and submit an additional document with Schedule C, Form 8829.

Schedule SE

The big difference between W-2 income and 1099-MISC income is that your employer has already withheld taxes from the earnings that appear on your W-2. Now you have to take an extra step to calculate taxes due on your 1099 income, and this means completing Schedule SE - Self-Employment Tax.

Schedule SE calculates what you owe in Medicare and Social Security taxes on your self-employment income. You only paid half of these on your W-2 income, and your employer matched the other half. But you are your employer if you're also self-employed, so you have to pay both halves of this income. This means completing and filing Schedule SE. The resulting total, called the self-employment tax, goes on line 57 of your 1040 tax return.

Schedule A

You can also complete Schedule A if you wanted to itemize deductions on your tax return rather than claim the standard deduction for your filing status. This might be worth considering through tax year 2017 because you can deduct work-related expenses for which your employer did not reimburse you when they exceed 2 percent of your adjusted gross income. If these expenses, plus all your other deductible expenses, exceed the amount of your standard deduction, you’d be better off itemizing than claiming the standard deduction. It’s an either/or decision – you can’t do both.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that took effect in January 2018 eliminates this deduction for work-related expenses for tax years 2018 through 2025. This doesn’t mean you can’t still itemize if you want to. You just can’t claim a tax break for these particular expenses.

About the Author

Beverly Bird has been writing professionally since 1983. She is the author of several novels including the bestselling "Comes the Rain" and "With Every Breath." Bird also has extensive experience as a paralegal, primarily in the areas of divorce and family law, bankruptcy and estate law. She covers many legal topics in her articles.

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