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1040 Forms vs. 1099 Forms: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 17, 2023
The 1040 form is the standard IRS form individuals use to file personal income taxes, while the 1099 form is used to report non-salary income like freelance earnings or interest.

Key Differences

The 1040 forms and 1099 forms are both integral to the U.S. tax system, serving distinct purposes. The 1040 form is a comprehensive document that taxpayers use to report their annual income and calculate their tax liability. It encompasses all sources of income, including wages, interest, and capital gains. In contrast, the 1099 form is a series of documents that businesses use to report specific types of payments they've made, particularly to non-employees like independent contractors.
One key distinction between 1040 forms and 1099 forms is their respective users. While individual taxpayers use the 1040 form to file their personal tax returns, businesses and other entities provide 1099 forms to individuals to whom they've paid certain types of income, helping those individuals report this income on their 1040 forms.
It's important to note that there are multiple versions of both the 1040 and 1099 forms. For instance, the 1040 has variations like 1040-A and 1040-EZ, which are simpler versions for specific taxpayer situations. Similarly, the 1099 series includes forms like 1099-MISC (for miscellaneous income), 1099-INT (for interest income), and 1099-DIV (for dividends).
Another essential distinction lies in the frequency and necessity of each form. A taxpayer must annually submit a 1040 form, encapsulating all income sources. However, a 1099 form is situation-dependent. For example, a freelancer might receive multiple 1099-MISC forms from various clients, but an individual with no such income would not receive or file any 1099 forms.
To simplify, while both 1040 forms and 1099 forms deal with income and taxes, the 1040 is a universal form for individual tax returns, and the 1099 series reports specific non-salary income types.

Comparison Chart


To file individual income taxes.
To report specific types of non-salary income.


Individual taxpayers.
Issued by businesses/entities to individuals (e.g., freelancers, investors).


1040, 1040-A, 1040-EZ, etc.
1099-MISC, 1099-INT, 1099-DIV, etc.

Frequency of Filing/Submission

Annually by individuals.
Issued as income is earned; varies based on the individual's income sources.

Main Components

Total income, tax credits, deductions, and tax owed.
Specific income amount, payer's and recipient's information.

1040 Forms and 1099 Forms Definitions

1040 Forms

Utilized by taxpayers to report all income sources.
His salary, dividends, and rental income were all declared on the 1040 form.

1099 Forms

Come in different versions, each for a particular income type.
For her stock dividends, Sarah expected to receive a 1099-DIV form.

1040 Forms

Allows for deductions, credits, and other adjustments.
After accounting for her student loan interest, she adjusted her taxable income on the 1040 form.

1099 Forms

Issued by businesses to individuals, not to other businesses.
The bank provided Tom a 1099-INT form for his savings account interest.

1040 Forms

Mandatory for all individuals with taxable income.
Even though she started her first job mid-year, she still had to file a 1040 form.

1099 Forms

Helps in reporting additional income on 1040 forms.
After accumulating her 1099 forms, Lisa reported the total on her 1040.

1040 Forms

Comes in various versions like 1040-A and 1040-EZ.
Being a simple taxpayer, John opted for the 1040-EZ form.

1099 Forms

Documents specific types of non-salary income.
As a freelance writer, Amy received multiple 1099 forms from her clients.

1040 Forms

Standard forms for filing individual income taxes.
She meticulously filled out her 1040 form to ensure accuracy.

1099 Forms

Often used for contract workers, freelancers, or investments.
Being a contractor, Bob wasn't surprised when he received several 1099 forms.


What's the primary purpose of 1040 forms?

1040 forms are used by individuals to file their annual personal income taxes.

Is the 1040-EZ form a simpler version of the standard 1040?

Yes, it's a shortened version for certain taxpayers with simpler situations.

I'm a freelancer; do I need both 1040 and 1099 forms?

You'll likely receive 1099 forms from clients and then report this income on your 1040 form.

Can I e-file both my 1040 and 1099 forms?

Individuals e-file 1040 forms. Entities e-file 1099 forms to the IRS and provide copies to recipients.

Do I always need to fill out a 1040 form every year?

Generally, yes, if you have taxable income. There are few exceptions based on income levels and age.

Do I need to submit all my 1099 forms with my 1040 form?

No, but you need to report the income from them on your 1040 form.

Who typically issues 1099 forms?

Entities like businesses, banks, or other financial institutions issue 1099 forms to individuals.

Can I claim dependents on my 1040 form?

Yes, claiming dependents can offer certain tax benefits on your 1040 form.

I lost a 1099 form. How do I get another?

Contact the issuer, and they should be able to provide a duplicate.

Why are there so many types of 1099 forms?

Different 1099 forms cater to varied income types, like miscellaneous income or dividends.

If I didn't earn any non-salary income, will I receive a 1099 form?

No, 1099 forms are only for specific types of non-salary income.

Can I use tax software to help with my 1040 form?

Yes, many people use tax software to assist in completing and filing their 1040 forms.

Are all 1099 forms related to employment?

No, they can also relate to other income sources, like investments.

How do businesses decide which 1099 form to issue?

It depends on the nature of the payment, e.g., 1099-MISC for miscellaneous income or 1099-DIV for dividends.

Are there any credits or deductions on the 1040 form?

Yes, taxpayers can claim various credits and deductions on the 1040 form to reduce taxable income.

Why would I receive a 1099 form?

You'd receive a 1099 form if you earned specific non-salary income, like freelance payments or interest.

Are there penalties for not reporting 1099 income on a 1040 form?

Yes, underreporting income can result in penalties and interest.

I made an error on my 1040 form. What should I do?

You can file an amended tax return using Form 1040-X.

I earned money from a hobby. Do I get a 1099 form?

Not necessarily, but if you do, it's typically a 1099-MISC.

How long should I keep my filed 1040 forms?

It's recommended to keep them for at least three years, but some suggest seven for safety.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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