1099s FOR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHERS
You’ve probably heard of 1099s but have no idea what they are, why they exist, and who they’re for. If you’re a wedding photographer who either seconds shoots for other photographers or if you hire second shooters, you’ll want to read this. Grab a beer and let’s chat about 1099s for wedding photographers.
Just a quick heads up, we’ll be talking about tax deductions too, so if you need a refresher, first check out this post.
WHAT IS A 1099?
A 1099 is a form that the IRS has you use to report the amount you pay a “service provider” or “independent contractor”. The most common service providers we as wedding photographers run into are second shooters, office landlords, and sometimes the person you might contract to edit your photos for you. If you’re into that kind of thing.
There are many types of 1099s, but the one you’re looking for is a 1099-MISC (…basically a catch-all 1099…).
If you’ve ever worked for someone as an employee, you’ve likely received a W-2. The 1099 is basically a self-employed person’s version of a W-2.
WHO GETS A 1099?
The easiest way to remember who gets a 1099 is to think about them in two distinct buckets.
1. Individuals you paid to perform services that totaled up to $600 for the year. These are your second shooters and your outsourced editors. Not employees.
2. Individuals you paid rent or lease payments to for either real estate OR EQUIPMENT. These are your office landlords and people you paid to rent camera gear from.
Hold up… Go look at #2 again. Maybe you rented a bunch of gear from BorrowLenses. Does that mean you have to send them a 1099? No, no, no… You don’t have to send a 1099 to any corporation. BorrowLenses is a big corporation so they don’t get a 1099 from you.
What if you paid five second shooters $400 each? Do you have to send them 1099s? Nope, because you never paid any one of them at least $600.
What if you paid four second shooters $400 each and one second shooter $900? Then you only have to send out one 1099 to that second shooter you paid more than $600 to.
Last example: What if you paid a second shooter exactly $600? Yep, send a 1099.
HOW TO GET THE FORMS
The IRS will mail you 1099s for free, it just takes a week or two. You can go here to request any and all forms. Scroll down to the 1099-MISC form and enter the number you want. Easy.
If you need forms faster, you can get them at Staples or Office Depot, or even Amazon. It’s super important that you get official forms. You can’t print them online because they’re printed on special paper with fancy ink.
WHEN THEY’RE DUE
All 1099s used to be due at the end of February, but a law changed and now they’re due at the end of January. The 31st to be exact.
YOUR MIND IS MELTING. BUT DON’T STRESS.
Don’t freak out if you’re reading this days from the deadline. It’s not hard. Here’s the step-by-step…
1. Get blank 1099-MISC forms and one 1096 form. The 1096 is a cover page that summarizes all the 1099s. Also get 1099 envelopes. Again, all this can be emergency-purchased at Staples. And get some stamps.
2. Gather a list of people you paid $600 or more to for the year who fit in the buckets above.
3. Get the name, mailing address, and EIN or Social Security Number for each of those people. The IRS makes a form you can use to request this info called a W-9. I usually send people a quick text instead of using that form, but do whatever you feel comfortable with.
4. If the 1099 is for a second shooter, enter the amount you paid them in Box 7. If it’s for a landlord, fill in Box 1.
5. Once you’ve filled out a 1099 for each person, add up all the Box 7s and Box 1s and put the totals in the matching boxes on the 1096.
6. Put the 1096 and all the Copy A 1099s into a pile. This pile goes to the IRS.
7. Put all the Copy Bs and Copy 2s in a pile for each person. These piles go to the people.
8. Put your Copy 1s in a pile. These go to your state if it’s required. The IRS automatically shares 1099 info with California, so I get to throw this pile away. Do a quick google for your state.
9. Put all the piles in envelopes and send. The IRS pile goes to the address listed on the back of the 1096. It’s a different address depending on your state.
THAT’S IT! YOU’RE DONE!
As always, feel free to ask questions in the comments section below. This is a tricky one, so ask for help. Also let me know what else you want to hear about!
Heads up, eyes open.