IRS Recommends Recipients Should Have Tax Withheld From Unemployment

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Unemployment compensation is taxable and the IRS recommends that recipients have taxes withheld. This recommendation is being made by the IRS in light of the fact that millions of people have been added to the unemployment roles, many for the first time, due to the impact of COVID-19.

Withholding is Voluntary

Federal law allows recipients to choose a flat 10% withholding from these benefits to cover part or all their tax liability. To do this, recipients should complete Form W-4V, Voluntary Withholding Request, and give it to the agency paying their benefits. Don’t send the form to the IRS. If the paying agency has its own withholding request form, use it instead.

Recipients who don’t choose voluntary withholding, or if the withholding isn’t enough, can make quarterly estimated tax payments. The payment for the first two quarters of 2020 was due on July 15. Third quarter is due September 15, 2020 and fourth quarter on January 15, 2021. Taxpayers can visit IRS.gov to view all payment options.

Here are other types of payments taxpayers should check for withholding:

  • Benefits paid by a state or the District of Columbia from the Federal Unemployment Trust Fund
  • Railroad unemployment compensation benefits
  • Disability benefits paid as a substitute for unemployment compensation
  • Trade readjustment allowances under the Trade Act of 1974
  • Unemployment assistance under the Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act of 1974
  • Unemployment assistance under the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 Program

Recipients who return to work before the end of the year can use the IRS Tax Withholding Estimator to make sure the right amount of tax is taken out of their pay. This online tool is available only on IRS.gov, and it can help workers or pension recipients avoid or lessen year-end tax bills or can estimate a refund.

Reporting Unemployment Compensation

In January 2021, unemployment benefit recipients should receive a Form 1099-G, Certain Government Payments, from the agency paying their benefits. This form will show the amount of unemployment compensation received during 2020 and any federal income tax withheld. Taxpayers should report this information, along with other income, on their 2020 federal tax return.

More Information:

Share this tip on social media — #IRSTaxTip: People should have tax withheld from unemployment now to avoid a tax-time surprise.  https://go.usa.gov/xGTnp

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Gary DeHart
Gary DeHart has worked in media for more than 25 years and has been instrumental in developing new revenue streams and business opportunities for the companies he has worked for. Prior to launching Insightful Accountant (formerly Intuitive Accountant), Gary was the Associate Publisher of Accounting Today. Prior to working in media serving the public accounting market, he worked in media for employee benefit managers and brokers, automotive design, textile manufacturing and recreational boating. In addition to being the Publisher and Managing Partner of Insightful Accountant, Gary works with select clients within the accounting market on channel development and growth. He is an Assistant Scoutmaster with the Boy Scouts of America, enjoys fly fishing, time on the beach, cooking on the Big Green Egg and spending time with his family.