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accounting for photographers tax tips 1099

1099s and W-9s and 1096s Oh My!

1099 W9

It’s that time of year when photographers put down their camera and pick up a pen and paper to start thinking about taxes. One of the first requirements of the year is to issue 1099s. These forms are required by the IRS and are generally used to track payments for services to small businesses. For photographer’s, you may need to issue them to people like second shooters, graphic designers, image editors, models, web developers and your accountant.

Here are some things you need to know:

The Recipients (the person you paid money to) needs to get form 1099 by January 31. Form 1096 (what you send to the IRS) is due February 28. You’ll need to buy a pack of preprinted 1099 forms to print on or fill out by hand. You can print directly from software like QuickBooks. Make sure you use the correct year for the form – it will say in bold 2013 (prepared in January 2014) in the upper right corner.

You’ll send one to each of your vendors who perform a service you paid over $600. If you have a landlord for your studio, they get one too. Even if the vendor is an LLC, you will most likely send them one.  The only exceptions are if they are a S or C corporation. When sending a 1099 to an LLC who is also a sole-proprietor you need to use the individuals name (the owner) and SSN. If you don’t have enough info to send someone a 1099, send them a W-9 first.  They are required to fill it out.

If you worked as a subcontractor for another business (think second shooter or as a commercial photographer), you will need to fill out form W-9. This will help them fill out your 1099 correctly. Unless you are a Partnership or a Corporation (C or S), you will need to put your name on the first line, your LLC name or DBA name on the second line and then your SSN for the Taxpayer Identification Number.

Form 1096 usually comes with the 1099′s when you buy them. This is a summary of all the 1099′s you sent out.  I usually wait until the middle of February to send them to the IRS.  This is in case there was an issue with a 1099 you sent out. You’ll then have a chance to correct before sending everything in.


All the necessary links to forms:

Form 1099-MISC (do not download this form, just for reference)

Instructions for 1099′s

Form W-9


These will become easier to do each year. Information you’ve accumulated from your vendors usually carries over to the next year. Leave any questions you may have in the comments.  Happy tax season!