The IRS will automatically refund money to eligible people who filed their tax return reporting unemployment compensation before the recent changes made by the American Rescue Plan. These refunds are expected to begin in May and continue into the summer.
Under the new law, taxpayers who earned less than $150,000 in modified adjusted gross income can exclude some unemployment compensation from their income. This means they don't have to pay tax on some of it. People who are married filing jointly can exclude up to $20,400 – up to $10,200 for each spouse who received unemployment compensation. All other eligible taxpayers can exclude up to $10,200 from their income.
Information for people who already filed their 2020 tax returnThis 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.
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.
COVID Tax Tip 2021-46, April 8, 2021