Most businesses are aware that federal law requires them to issue forms 1099 to individual non-employees who are paid more than $600 during the calendar year. This requirement does not generally apply to payments made to corporations.
However, payments made to a lawyer or law firm, regardless of whether a corporation, must be reported on form 1099 if the business paid the lawyer or law firm more than $600 during the calendar year (not necessarily the tax or fiscal year of the business). Accounting professionals for small firms often fail to sort through the complex rules governing this requirement. As a result, many small businesses are not aware of it.
By January 31, businesses should report on form 1099-misc the amount paid for legal services more than $600 to a single provider of provider during the calendar year. When reporting amounts paid, include all amounts paid, including any unused portion of a retainer retainer, deposits to an attorney escrow or IOLA account in connection with real estate transactions, and other amounts paid to a lawyer or law firm even if the lawyer of law firm will simply transfer that money to someone else.
Tax and accounting professionals may wish to consult: IRC 6041(a), Reg. 1.6041-1(a)(1), 1.6045-5(c), and IRS instructions to Form 1099-Misc. (available at http://www.irs.gov).