If you are starting the process of filing your taxes, you may need to know how pandemic programs are going to change the game this year.
“The biggest difference Is in stimulus,” says accountant Debbie Kinnish. “People that didn’t get both stimulus payments last year. We can claim the difference back for them on their 2020 return.”
Kinnish says you’ll get a lump sum for that money you missed, whether the first $1200 payment or the second round. She also wants to remind people that stimulus payments are not taxable.
“They’re an economic stimulus and we knew right in the very beginning that it would not be considered taxable,” says Kinnish.
Unemployment benefits are a different animal.
“Unemployment is taxable and so was the extra $600 that we got for the pandemic unemployment,” says Kinnish.
But you have the option to withhold federal taxes on unemployment. If you did that, you shouldn’t expect to owe on that income. If you didn’t, that’s another story.
“If they did not have taxes withheld yes there’s a chance they can owe at the end of the year,” says Kinnish. “Depending on how long they were on it.”
If you didn’t withhold enough, or you owe for some other reason, paying doesn’t have to be painful.
“If for some reason they do owe at the end once they’ve decided or once they prepare their return if the amount is too large you can set up payment plans through the IRS,” says Kinnish.
The moral of the story – get your taxes done sooner rather than later. That way you have time to plan for anything unexpected.
And – for people who relied on emergency help like food stamps or a disaster grant, those types of need-based programs are usually not taxable.
There’s also free basic tax help out there. Here are some resources:
- United Way of King County offers free virtual basic tax preparation services from February 12 - April 18 (no income restriction)
- The IRS has a network of volunteer tax preparers, searchable by zip code
- The AARP’s free tax assistance
- JBLM tax center - for active-duty military, their families, and retirees
- Naval Base Kitsap tax center
- Tax-Aide Thurston County
- Many local libraries will print tax forms for people filling them out by hand and are providing curbside pickup if you look online or call
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