Tax Filing Tips for 2020
Earlier this month on February 12, tax filing for the year 2020 officially opened with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). As you begin the process of gathering your tax documents and preparing to file your tax returns, I wanted to share some suggestions and resources to help facilitate a smooth and more timely filing process.
Due to many disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the IRS is predicting delays in both processing and returning tax refunds by mail. To speed things up, the IRS highly recommends electronically filing your taxes and selecting direct deposit to avoid paper processing delays. Taxpayers can file electronically by using a tax professional, IRS Free File or other commercial tax preparation software. To find out if you are eligible for IRS Free File and to get started, visit irs.gov/freefile.
While most tax refunds are sent in less than 21 days, do not be surprised if you experience a delay this year. Since all tax returns are different, some may take longer to review and process. Refund information will become available within 24 hours after the IRS acknowledges receipt of an electronically filed return. To check the status of your return, visit irs.gov/refund.
This year, because of the coronavirus pandemic, millions of Americans received unemployment benefits – many for the first time. For tax filing purposes, it is important to know that the money received through this program is considered taxable income, including the extra $600 per week individuals might have received in 2020 under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
If you received unemployment compensation in 2020, you should receive a Form 1099-G by mail. This form will show the amount received in Box 1 and any federal income tax withheld in Box 4. This form should be filed along with your W-2. For any questions about this form and how to access it online, visit unemployment.state.ok.us.
Last year, many Americans also received Economic Impact Payments based on their 2018 or 2019 tax year information. However, if you were eligible but did not receive an Economic Impact Payment for some reason, you can claim the Recovery Rebate Credit on your 2020 tax return to increase the amount of a tax refund or decrease the amount of taxes owed.
If you received the full amount for both rounds of Economic Impact Payments, you should not include information about them in your 2020 tax return. To claim the Recovery Rebate Credit, you must file a 2020 tax return, even if you are not normally required to file. You can find more information about the Recovery Rebate Credit at irs.gov/RRC.
Finally, do not forget that the last day to file taxes for 2020 is April 15, 2021. It is important to file before this date to avoid late-filing or late-payment penalties. Even if you cannot pay the full amount of anything owed, the IRS offers payment plans, temporary delays and in some cases, penalties can be waived. To learn more about those options, visit irs.gov/payments.
If you have a tax filing question or need help getting answers from the IRS, my office is here to help direct you or potentially open an inquiry on your behalf. Although we cannot guarantee an outcome, members of my staff always do their best to help constituents of the Fourth District of Oklahoma receive a timely response. For more information, call (405) 329-6500 or visit cole.house.gov/services/help-with-a-federal-agency.