The unemployed still have to pay taxes, even on unemployment benefits.
Whether or not you have to file a tax return has nothing to do with your employment status. It depends entirely on how much income you received during the year.
If your income falls above the income threshold for your filing status, you have to file a tax return. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter to the IRS if you happen to be out of a job.
The unemployed should note, however, that unemployment benefits do qualify as taxable income. In other words, your unemployment payment received is considered income.
According to the IRS, unemployment compensation includes
Any amounts received under the unemployment compensation laws of the United States or of a state. It includes state unemployment insurance benefits and benefits paid to you by a state or the District of Columbia from the Federal Unemployment Trust Fund. It also includes railroad unemployment compensation benefits, disability benefits paid as a substitute for unemployment compensation, trade readjustment allowances under the Trade Act of 1974, and unemployment assistance under the Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act of 1974. Unemployment compensation does not include worker’s compensation.
How To Report Unemployment Benefits on Your Taxes
With your unemployment benefits, you’ll receive Form 1099-G [Certain Government Payments]. This form should show exactly how much you received. That total amount must be entered on your tax return.
The IRS already knows you received this money, so don’t try to hide it or you could face an audit as well as penalties and interest.
When you file your return, report your unemployment income on line 19 of Form 1040 [U.S. Individual Income Tax Return], line 13 of Form 1040A [U.S. Individual Income Tax Return], or line 3 of Form 1040EZ [Income Tax Return for Single and Joint Filers with No Dependents], depending on which tax return you decide to file.
Rather than going to the hassle of filling out these forms and calculating your taxes, you’ll be able to just enter your unemployment income and any other tax information on the PriorTax tax application. From there, we’ll look for any way to boost your total refund!
Other Unemployment Information To Consider
But before you get too exasperated, you should know that unemployed people stand to benefit from filing a tax return. A number of tax credits are available that could result in a pretty large refund for those who don’t make very money, including the following;
If you’re unlucky enough to be unemployed, you probably will have to file taxes, but there’s no reason to fear the tax man – the progressive U.S. tax code tends to be pretty generous to those with low incomes.
Photo via Cea. on Flickr.