Using special variables in Form 1099, Form W-2, and 1099 or W-2 files

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Important reminder!

Product support for Engagement CS is ending on September 30, 2020. See Engagement CS license expiration 2020 - frequently asked questions for more information.

Licenses for Payroll CS, Trial Balance CS, and Write-Up CS permanently expired on March 1, 2017.

Some processes documented in the Help & How-To Center are no longer applicable, due to the discontinuation of Creative Solutions Accounting.

To enter non-dollar amounts (or zero amounts) into a field on a 1099 or W-2, you can insert special variables into the layout for the form. A number of special variables common to each type of form have been predefined for you, but you can define new special variables as needed.

Defining a new special variable

  1. Choose Utilities > W-2 or 1099 Processing > year > form type.
  2. In the Form Processing dialog, click the Special Variables tab.
  3. In the Special variable drop-down list, select a blank special variable to add to your form.

    Note: Varying numbers and types of predefined special variables exist for each form. Select the first special variable with a blank description.

  4. Enter a description for your new special variable in the Description field.
  5. In the Value field, specify the exact entry you want to display in the field for each vendor or employee. (For example, if you want to enter a zero amount, enter 0.00 in the Value field.)
  6. Click Done to save your special variable and close the Form Processing dialog.

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Adding the special variable to your form layout

  1. Choose Setup > System Configuration > Layout Editor.
  2. Click Layout > Open and navigate to the form layout you want to modify.
  3. Choose Insert > Variable.
  4. In the Insert Variable dialog, highlight the special variable you want to add and then click the Select button.
  5. Click the left mouse button at the position in the layout where you want to place the highlighted variable. If necessary, you can then select the variable and drag it to a new location.


  • For information on distribution codes for specific 1099 forms, refer to that form's instructions, which are available from the IRS website at
  • A new IRS Pilot Program was initiated for 2009 filing of 1099s to enable issuers to provide recipient copies with truncated and masked EIN/SSN numbers for privacy and security purposes. We have provided two variables (Vendor SSN Masked with Asterisks, and Vendor SSN Masked with Xs) that automatically display the recipient EIN/SSN number in the appropriate format masked with Xs or asterisks (*). These variables can be added to any 1099 recipient copy by following the instructions above. There are a variety of other requirements that the IRS has developed for their pilot program to ensure strict compliance when using these variables; please refer to the IRS website for additional information.

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Related topics

1099 Form Processing > Special Variables tab

Insert Variable (Layout Editor)

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