How Do I Reduce The Taxes I Owe
More than half of all Americans are worried about having tax debt in 2021, but among those who were laid off at some point during the pandemic, that figure jumps to 76 percent, according to a survey from LendEDU conducted in December.
Even if you did not have taxes withheld from your unemployment benefits, there are still ways to reduce your tax bill or even wind up with a refund.
There are dozens of different tax credits and deductions available based on a range of life events and activities you may have experienced in 2020. Here are just three examples:
Earned Income Tax Credit
If you lost work in 2020 and had a much lower income than normal as a result, you may qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit, which can knock up to $6,660 off your taxes if you have three or more children, says TurboTax’s Greene-Lewis. You must have earned some income from an employer or self-employment last year, however. Unemployment benefits income alone won’t count.
Greene-Lewis adds you can also use your 2019 income in calculating whether you qualify this tax year, thanks to the Consolidated Appropriations Act, passed at the end of December, which aimed to provide relief to those struggling because of the pandemic.
And for this tax year only, you can deduct up to $300 in charitable donations made in 2020 from your taxable income without having to itemize.
Filing Your Taxes If You Claimed Unemployment Benefits: What To Know Where To Find Help
The 2021 IRS deadline for filing your taxes has been pushed to May 17 to give people more time to get organized in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even with this extra time, your situation is likely to be even more complicated if youve been unemployed during the course of the pandemic since you have to pay taxes on federal unemployment if you earned above a certain amount in benefits.
With the new IRS tax filing deadline now less than a month away, here’s what you need to know about filing your taxes if you’ve claimed unemployment benefits this year and where you can find free or low-cost tax help, even after many such support services closed up shop on the original IRS deadline of April 15.
Preparing Your Tax Return Now Or Later
If you are preparing your own tax return, you must first determine if you are eligible for the exclusion by considering whether your Adjusted Gross Income is less than $150,000.
Filing electronically is the easiest way to calculate the correct amount. The IRS has worked with the tax return preparation software industry to reflect these updates, so people who choose to file electronically simply need to respond to the related questions when electronically preparing their tax returns.
See New Exclusion of up to $10,200 of Unemployment Compensation for more information and examples. Instructions and an updated worksheet about the exclusion are available, see the Form 1040 and instructions. For additional information and scenarios, see the Unemployment Compensation Exclusion FAQs.
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Making Estimated Tax Payments
You might be required to make payments directly to the IRS as quarterly estimated tax payments if you elect not to have taxes withheld from your unemployment benefits. This works out to a payment once every three months. You can elect to do this instead of having 10% withheld from every unemployment check, giving yourself a little bit of wiggle room when money is tight.
You might even have to make quarterly payments in addition to withholding from your benefits. You’re obligated to make estimated payments if you expect that you’ll owe at least $1,000 after accounting for all taxes withheld from all your sources of income, and if you expect that your withheld taxes plus any refundable tax credits you’re eligible for will be less than 90% of what you’ll owe, or 100% of the total taxes you paid last year.
You might want to consult with a tax professional because the whole equation can be complicated. You could accrue additional penalties if you don’t pay enough tax, either through withholding or estimated tax payments.
Irs To Recalculate Taxes On Unemployment Benefits Refunds To Start In May
IR-2021-71, March 31, 2021
WASHINGTON To help taxpayers, the Internal Revenue Service announced today that it will take steps to automatically refund money this spring and summer to people who filed their tax return reporting unemployment compensation before the recent changes made by the American Rescue Plan.
The legislation, signed on March 11, allows taxpayers who earned less than $150,000 in modified adjusted gross income to exclude unemployment compensation up to $20,400 if married filing jointly and $10,200 for all other eligible taxpayers. The legislation excludes only 2020 unemployment benefits from taxes.
Because the change occurred after some people filed their taxes, the IRS will take steps in the spring and summer to make the appropriate change to their return, which may result in a refund. The first refunds are expected to be made in May and will continue into the summer.
For those taxpayers who already have filed and figured their tax based on the full amount of unemployment compensation, the IRS will determine the correct taxable amount of unemployment compensation and tax. Any resulting overpayment of tax will be either refunded or applied to other outstanding taxes owed.
There is no need for taxpayers to file an amended return unless the calculations make the taxpayer newly eligible for additional federal credits and deductions not already included on the original tax return.
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Why Do You Have To Enter This In My Tax Return
The tax-free unemployment benefit 1 is subject to the progression proviso . This increases the tax rate on your taxable income. In other words: The tax office regards wage replacement benefits as an increase in your financial strength and sets a higher tax rate for your remaining taxable income.
Example: You are in tax class 1 and earned 15,000 Euros in 2020. Aditionally, you received unemployment benefits of 9,000 Euros. The unemployment benefit itself is not taxed but is included in the progression tax rate. Your earnings are taxed as usual.
This increases your tax rate from 8.5 per cent to 15.29 per cent. Your 15,000 Euros will be taxed with this value. This increases the income tax from 1,275 Euros to 2,293 Euros .
You can calculate the progression reservation on the website of the Bavarian State Office for Taxes.
Do I Have To Pay Taxes On The Extra $600
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act provided for the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program when President Trump signed it into law on March 27, 2020. It provided an additional $600 per week in unemployment compensation per recipient through July 2020. That money is also taxable after the first $10,200.
You might be paid up if you arranged to have income tax withheld from your benefits, but federal law caps withholding on benefits at 10%. That might not be enough to offset all taxes owed if you had additional income during the year.
Not all states were technologically prepared to withhold anything from that extra $600 portion. Their unemployment systems simply werent up to the task, and many initially collapsed during the first weeks of increased visits to their sites.
You’ll still have to pay tax on benefits you received over $10,200 if you asked for withholding and it didn’t happen.
This 10% withholding cap prevents you from having extra money withheld now to try to compensate for not having anything withheld earlier in the year. You can ask for extra withholding from your paychecks, however, if you return to work.
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How Do I Enter Unemployment Benefits In Your Tax Return
You enter the unemployment benefit you received in two places in your tax return:
1. In Appendix N, line 28, you will find the period of non-employment, for example, from April 1, 2016, to June 15, 2016. The certificate from the Employment Agency is suitable as evidence.
Times of non-employment do not mean sick days that you had during an employment relationship.
2. The amount received is entered in the main form, line 96. Here you also enter your income from other wage replacement benefits. If you have received several benefits, enter the total of all received amounts here.
Are There Tax Breaks For Unemployment
The Earned Income Tax Credit is one tax benefit that many people may overlook. It is intended to help taxpayers with low to moderate income. The amount of credit you can receive depends on your filing status, total income, and how many qualifying children you have.
If you are paying for childcare while you look for work, you could receive a tax credit to offset those costs. The amount you can claim for the Child and Dependent Care Credit depends on your income.
For the EITC and the childcare credit, you must have earned income to report on your return. Your unemployment compensation does not count toward these since it is not earned. But if you lost your job during the year, you can still qualify based on what you earned while you were still employed.
If you have dependents under age 17, you may be able to claim the Child Tax Credit. You do not need to have earned income to qualify for this credit, but your dependents will have to meet certain requirements to be eligible. If you claim anyone over the age of 17, they may qualify for a separate dependent credit worth $500.
Have you picked up a side gig, like driving for Uber, tutoring, or selling a product as an independent consultant? If so, you may be considered self-employed for tax purposes. To learn more, read: Different Types of Self-Employment.
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Do You Need To Do Anything To Receive The Refund
The IRS has stated that people who are eligible for refunds will receive them automatically through either direct deposit or a check . You dont need to file an amended return or get in touch with the IRS to receive a payment. The IRS will send a notice to eligible taxpayers explaining the corrections that they will be making, and then their payments will arrive within 30 days.
Irs: Unemployment Compensation Is Taxable Have Tax Withheld Now And Avoid A Tax
IR-2020-185, August 18, 2020
WASHINGTON With millions of Americans now receiving taxable unemployment compensation, many of them for the first time, the Internal Revenue Service today reminded people receiving unemployment compensation that they can have tax withheld from their benefits now to help avoid owing taxes on this income when they file their federal income tax return next year.
Withholding is voluntary. Federal law allows any recipient to choose to have a flat 10% withheld from their benefits to cover part or all of their tax liability. To do that, fill out Form W-4V, Voluntary Withholding Request, and give it to the agency paying the benefits. Don’t send it to the IRS. If the payor has its own withholding request form, use it instead.
If a recipient doesn’t choose withholding, or if withholding is not enough, they can make quarterly estimated tax payments instead. The payment for the first two quarters of 2020 was due on July 15. Third and fourth quarter payments are due on September 15, 2020, and January 15, 2021, respectively. For more information, including some helpful worksheets, see Form 1040-ES and Publication 505, available on IRS.gov.
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What If I Never Received A Stimulus Payment
If you didnt receive the full payment you were entitled to, then its possible that when you are filing your 2020 tax return you may end up getting more money, says Eric Bronnenkant, head of tax at financial services firm Betterment.
If your economic situation changed lets say you qualified based on 2018 or 2019 income because it was lower, but your economic situation improved for 2020 the IRS actually cant ask for any of that money back, Bronnenkant adds. Your situation cant get worse in that scenario.
Taxpayers will need to file a 2020 federal income tax return to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit if they didnt get their Economic Impact Payments or they received less money than theyre eligible to get, such as if a childs credit wasnt included in the payout.
The Recovery Rebate Credit is listed on Line 30 of the 1040 Form for the 2020 tax year.
Aimee Picchi and Susan Tompor
Follow Aimee on Twitter and Susan .
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Severance Pay And Unemployment
As a recently laid-off employee, youd probably be glad to learn that your soon-to-be former employer offered a severance package. However, its important to know how severance works, in order to reduce the chances of financial surprises down the road. Its not exactly the same as receiving your regular paycheck.
For example, youll need to pay taxes on your severance, whether you receive it in a lump sum or at regular intervals, just as you pay taxes on your standard paycheck.
Taxes on severance may be higher, depending on the method your employer chooses to determine your pay.
Depending on where you live, receiving severance might impact your unemployment, reducing or delaying your potential payout.
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Ei Benefits Are Taxable Income
Whether its due to the arrival of a baby, seasonal work changes, or layoffs, many Canadians will at some time in their life claim Employment Insurance . EI payments are taxable income, and as such, they affect your taxes just like any other type of income, and in some cases, you may have to repay these benefits.
Unemployment Federal Tax Break
The latest COVID-19 relief bill , gives a federal tax break on unemployment benefits. This means that you dont have to pay federal tax on the first $10,200 of your unemployment benefits if your adjusted gross income is less than $150,000 in 2020. The $150,000 income limit is the same whether you are filing single or married.
For paper filers, the IRS published instructions on how to claim the unemployment tax break: New Exclusion of up to $10,200 of Unemployment Compensation. For online filers, the IRS has stated that tax software companies have updated their systems to reflect the unemployment federal tax break. If you file your taxes online and havent filed for 2020 yet, you may want to make sure your tax software is updated before filing your tax return.
If you filed your 2020 tax return before this new law change, the IRS is asking you not to file an amended return and not to take any additional steps. The IRS will automatically issue refunds starting in May and into the summer to those who qualify. If you claimed tax credits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit , the IRS will also automatically issue refunds if you qualify for a higher amount because the tax break changed your income level.
If your state decides to give you a state tax break and you already filed your state return, you should check to see if you are newly eligible for any state tax credits.
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What To Do If You Have Filed Already
If you collected unemployment insurance in 2020 but you already filed your tax return, you are still eligible for the exemption under the American Rescue Plan. You do not need to take any action to claim the money youre owed. Instead, the IRS will automatically refund the money.
The first round of payments will begin in May and continue over the summer, according to the IRS. Youll either receive a refund or the amount will be deducted from your taxes owed.
There is no need for taxpayers to file an amended return unless the calculations make the taxpayer newly eligible for additional federal credits and deductions not already included on the original tax return, the agency noted in a recent release.
This includes, for example, taxpayers who claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit but are eligible for an increased credit under the new exemption. While youll automatically get a refund for the exemption, youll need to file an amended return to get a larger credit.
What Should I Do If I Can’t Pay My Tax Bill
Even if you can’t afford to fully pay your tax bill by April 15, you need to file your return by that day. The IRS charges a stiff penalty for failing to file on time that is ten times worse than the penalty they’ll hit you with for failing to pay, says H& R Block’s Pickering.
The failure-to-file penalty equals 5 percent of the amount of unpaid taxes for each month your return is late, up to 25 percent of the total. The failure-to-pay penalty is only 0.5 percent of the unpaid taxes you owe for each month you carry a balance, again up to 25 percent.
“If you think you owe, don’t freak out, that’s when a lot of bad decisions get made,” says Pickering. “There are so many options for paying if you have a balance due. And the most important thing is to file your taxes.”
Last year, a third of taxpayers who couldn’t pay their full tax bill didn’t file their return by the deadline, according to a survey conducted by LendEDU. And with 53 percent of Americans worried about having to go into debt over their taxes for this year, it seems likely a few more may be scared into making the same mistake.
The good news: it’s easy to avoid that failure-to-file penalty. You can even file electronically for free if your income was less than $72,000 using the IRS Free File program.
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