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.
- Form 1040-ES, Estimated Tax for Individuals
- Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax
- Publication 525, Taxable and Nontaxable Income
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