The award is the nation's highest honor for those who have influenced American culture through the arts. Hoffman is being recognized for his work as one of the most versatile actors. He has played lead roles ranging from "All the President's Men" and "Rain Man" to "Tootsie."
Hoffman, now 75, said in an interview that he was last in Washington for Obama's inauguration in 2009.
Also on the Kennedy Center's list this year are late night talk show host David Letterman, Chicago bluesman Buddy Guy, the surviving members of the rock band Led Zeppelin and ballerina Natalia Makarova.
Letterman appeared surprised at how culturally important his Top 10 lists have been.
"I believe recognition at this prestigious level confirms by belief that there has been a mix-up," he said in a written statement. "I am still grateful to be included."
The honorees will have dinner with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and a reception hosted by President Barack Obama. The honorees will be saluted by fellow artists Dec. 2 in a show to be broadcast Dec. 26 on CBS.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.