What About State Taxes
More than half of states levy an income tax on jobless benefits. States will have to decide if they will also offer the tax break on state income taxes.
Its possible that some may still opt to tax the jobless aid, experts say.
Some already exempt taxes on unemployment, including California, New Jersey, Virginia, Montana and Pennsylvania. And some dont levy state income taxes at all, including Texas, Florida, Alaska, Nevada, Washington, Wyoming and South Dakota.
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What Happens If I Dont Amend My Tax Return
The IRS gets a Form 1099-G from the state unemployment office showing what they paid you. If you dont include that income on your tax return, the IRS computers will automatically flag your return.
The IRS will calculate the additional amount you owe and send you a bill. It will usually take several weeks or months to do so. In addition to the extra taxes, you will owe interest and penalties from when your tax return was due until you pay in full.
Unemployment Income Rules For Tax Year 2021
When it went into effect on March 11, 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act gave a tax break on up to $10,200 in unemployment benefits collected in tax year 2020. You had to qualify for the exclusion with a modified adjusted gross income of less than $150,000. The $150,000 limit included benefits plus any other sources of income. You claimed the exclusion when filing your 2020 tax return in the spring of 2021.
The IRS recalculated tax returns that were filed prior to the March 2021 ruling. It then issued refunds to any taxpayers who overpaid before ARPA went into effect.
If you collected unemployment in 2020, theres a chance you were paid benefits in January 2021 because they accrued late. This means you have to include that income in your 2021 tax return, despite the fact that the money is technically for the unemployment period in 2020. The ARPA exemption does not apply to unemployment income received in 2021. The key ARPA words are unemployment compensation paid in 2020.
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Information For People Who Already Filed Their 2020 Tax Return
This law change occurred after some people filed their 2020 taxes. For taxpayers who already have filed and figured their 2020 tax based on the full amount of unemployment compensation, the IRS will determine the correct taxable amount of unemployment compensation. Any resulting overpayment of tax will be either refunded or applied to other taxes owed.
The agency will do these recalculations in two phases.
- First, taxpayers who are eligible to exclude up to $10,200.
- Second, those married filing jointly who are eligible to exclude up to $20,400, and others with more complex returns.
Taxpayers only need to file an amended return if the recalculations make them newly eligible for additional federal tax credits or deductions not already included on their original tax return.
For example, the IRS can adjust returns for taxpayers who claimed the earned income tax credit and, because the exclusion changed their income level, may now be eligible for an increase in the EITC amount.
However, taxpayers would have to file an amended return if they did not originally claim the EITC or other credits but are now eligible to claim them following the change in the tax law. Taxpayers can use the EITC Assistant to see if they qualify for this credit based upon their new taxable income amount. If they now qualify, they should consider filing an amended return to claim this money.
These taxpayers may want to review their state tax returns as well.
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.
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If I Wasnt Working And Didnt Receive Unemployment Benefits Do I Need To File A Tax Return
You only need to file a tax return in years youre required to based on your income or other factors. If you were living off of your savings, you might need to file if you had interest or capital gains that put you over the minimum amount to file.
If you truly had zero income, you generally wont need to file a tax return unless you need to file for other reasons like claiming your stimulus payment.
Talk To The Irs And Set Up A Payment Plan
If the amount seems impossible for you to cover, contact the IRS directly. Despite its reputation, the IRS actually works with individual taxpayers who are having difficulty paying their taxes. It offers extensions, waive fees, and sometimes even compromise in difficult situations.
Start by calling the IRS at 18008291040. Try to avoid doing this too close to the filing deadline of April 18, as the IRS tends to get very busy around that date. Call as early as possible. Discuss your situation with them and ask what options are available.
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What Happens If I Didnt Withhold Taxes On My Unemployment Payments
You have the option of electing whether or not you want 10% of each unemployment payment withheld and applied toward your federal tax obligation. Many people collecting unemployment choose not to withhold taxes, wanting to collect as much as possible. However, this approach can be dangerous.
The pay as you go tax system in the U.S. means people are expected to pay income taxes throughout the year. If you opted not to have federal income tax withheld from your unemployment payments, you will not only have to pay those taxes by the April 15 deadline, but you could also face underpayment penalties and interest.
If you opted not to have federal taxes withheld but later change your mind, you can complete IRS Form W-4V to change your withholding election. You could instead lower your risk of underpayment penalties by sending in estimated tax payments to the IRS using either the online payment portal or remitting payment with Form 1040-ES. If your state has an income tax, you may also want to submit estimated tax payments to your state tax authority to avoid underpayment penalties.
Will Collecting Unemployment During The Pandemic Impact My Taxes
Many Americans found themselves facing unemployment or a significant reduction in work hours in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unemployment benefits, including the increased benefits provided by the CARES Act, have provided a much-needed lifeline for many people. However, unemployment benefits are not tax-free. If you collected unemployment benefits in 2020 or 2021, it is important to understand your federal and state tax obligations in order to avoid an unpleasant surprise when you file.
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Filing Taxes When You Are Unemployed
If you are receiving unemployment compensation, its important to understand how it can affect your taxes. You may still be required to file a tax return even if you are not earning income, and you may qualify for certain tax breaks as well. With a record number of taxpayers receiving unemployment compensation due to COVID-19, we want to address these frequently asked unemployment tax questions.
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Free Federal Tax Filing Services
The IRS offers free services to help you with your federal tax return. Free File is a service available through the IRS that offers free federal tax preparation and e-file options for all taxpayers. Free File is available in English and Spanish. To learn more about Free File and your free filing options, visit www.irs.gov/uac/free-file-do-your-federal-taxes-for-free.
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Irs Schedule For Unemployment Tax Refunds
With the latest batch of payments on Nov. 1, the IRS has now issued more than 11.7 million unemployment compensation refunds totaling over $14.4 billion. The IRS announced it was doing the recalculations in phases, starting with single filers with no dependents and then for those who are married and filing jointly. The first batch of these supplemental refunds went to those with the least complicated returns in early summer, and batches are supposed to continue for more complicated returns, which could take longer to process.
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Here’s a look at more tax-planning news.
Approximately 25 million people received unemployment benefits in 2021.
Workers collected $325 billion in total benefits in 2021, Stettner said, citing Treasury data.
States, which administer the benefits, offer the option to withhold tax at a standard 10% rate. State governments reported just $13.3 billion of tax withholding roughly 40% of the $32.5 billion that would have been collected if everyone opted to withhold tax, Stettner said.
“On average, only 40% of people withheld their taxes, and 60% didn’t withhold at all,” Stettner said.
That’s roughly the same share as in 2020, according to a separate The Century Foundation analysis.
However, there’s a key difference Congress on up to $10,200 of benefits, per person, in 2020 as part of the American Rescue Plan, a pandemic relief law. Most states gave the break for states levies, too, or already exempt unemployment compensation and other income from tax.
As a result, millions of people didn’t owe tax on their 2020 benefits or owed a lesser amount of tax.
However, a tax break isn’t available for 2021 benefits. That doesn’t mean individuals will necessarily have to write a check to the IRS this tax season some may get a lower tax refund. Even those who opted for the 10% withholding may owe some money if their annual income lands them in a higher marginal tax bracket.
The deadline to file a 2021 income-tax return is Monday, April 18.
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Information Needed For Your Federal Income Tax Return
Each January, we mail an IRS Form 1099-G to individuals we paid unemployment benefits during the prior calendar year. The 1099-G form provides information you need to report your benefits. Use the information from the form, but do not attach a copy of the 1099-G to your federal income tax return because TWC has already reported the 1099-G information to the IRS. You can file your federal tax return without a 1099-G form, as explained below in Filing Your Return Without Your 1099-G.
A 1099-G form is a federal tax form that lists the total amount of benefits TWC paid you, including:
- Unemployment benefits
- Federal income tax withheld from unemployment benefits, if any
- Alternative Trade Adjustment Assistance and Reemployment Trade Adjustment Assistance payments
Unprepared For Unemployment Benefits
Unemployment checks dont have taxes withheld which leads most people to believe that they wont owe taxes on them come April 15th. And sometimes they dont benefits may come from state governments, unions, private insurance, and other sources, and the IRS treatment of unemployment benefits depends on the organization or entity paying the benefits.
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What If I Cant Pay The Tax Owed On Unemployment
Paying taxes on unemployment insurance payments can seem counterintuitive, since most recipients either are out of work or recently have been. This could lead to a situation where you have a tax bill that you cant afford to pay.
In such a case, its important that you still file a return. If youre unable to pay the tax you owe by your original filing due date, the balance is subject to interest and a monthly late payment penalty. Theres also a penalty for failure to file a tax return. So try to file on time, whether or not you can afford to pay the full balance due.
If your tax bill is too much for you to pay right now, pay as much as you can to reduce the amount of interest that will accrue. You can also apply to pay the balance in installments, allowing you to make monthly payments. You can request an installment agreement online through the IRS website, by filling out Form 9465, or for help.
Which Taxes Apply To Unemployment Benefits
Generally, you’ll have money withheld from your paycheck for several types of taxes: income, Social Security and Medicare.
Combined, the Social Security and Medicare taxes are called Federal Insurance Contributions Act taxes, and they can be up to 7.65% of your pay. But FICA taxes don’t apply to unemployment benefits.
You have to pay federal income taxes on your unemployment benefits, as well as any applicable local and state income taxes.
Similar to how you receive a W-2 or 1099-MISC tax form with your wages and income and use those to prepare your tax return, your state will send you the IRS copies of Form 1099-G with a record of how much you received in unemployment. You’ll include this amount in your income for the year when you file your taxes.
Through July 31, 2020, your taxable unemployment benefits may include an additional $600 a week as part of Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act stimulus. The extra benefit also counts as taxable income. The separate one-time stimulus check that was also a component of the CARES Act is not, however, subject to income taxes.
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Paying Unemployment Taxes At The State And Local Level
At the local and state level, the options to pay for your state and local taxes may differ depending on where you live. Contact your state, county, or local unemployment office to learn about the different options to pay your taxes. These options may include:
1. Requesting to have state and/or local taxes withheld. The steps to request state and local tax withholding differ.
2. Making quarterly estimated payments. The due dates for estimated payments at the state and local level may differ from federal due dates.
3. Paying your taxes in full. If you need your full amount of your unemployment benefits and cannot make quarterly estimated payments, you can pay your taxes all at once when they are due. However, you may receive an underpayment penalty for not paying enough taxes throughout the year.
What Happens If I Didnt Have Enough Taxes Withheld From My Unemployment Payments
If you didnt have enough taxes withheld from your unemployment payments, you will owe additional taxes when you file your tax return. If you owe more than $1,000 in total, you may have to pay a penalty for not having enough money withheld.
If you realize you didnt have enough taxes withheld during the same calendar year you received unemployment benefits you can either 1) make an estimated tax payment or 2) opt for higher withholding when you return to work.
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What Do I Do If I Received A 1099
If you received a 1099-G and never filed for unemployment, first double check the amount on the 1099-G wasnt your state tax refund. State tax refunds also go on 1099-G.
If the 1099-G is for unemployment benefits, this may be a case of identity theft. Immediately contact the unemployment office so they dont hold you responsible for the fraud. You may want to take other steps to protect your identity like checking your credit report.
Disclaimer: This post is provided for general information only. The information may be outdated or may not fully cover the unique circumstances of your specific situation. Always consult with an appropriate professional before making important decisions.
How Tax Debt Affects Unemployed Individuals
Unfortunately, any compensation you receive for your unemployment status is taxable, which can further increase your tax burden. To stay on top of this issue, you should adhere to your Form 1099-G that will tell you how much you must report in unemployment on your upcoming tax returns.
To avoid owing the IRS, you must withhold taxes from your unemployment payments or make estimated tax payments on the amount you owe. Or, if youre married, you can ask your spouse to adjust their withholdings to account for the difference.
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