The coronavirus pandemic has caused an unemployment crisis unlike any other. While the jobless rate has declined since hitting a record high in April, millions of Americans are still out of work and have grown reliant on unemployment benefits to cover their bills. But it's these same workers who may be in for a very unpleasant surprise when they sit down to file their 2020 taxes next year.
Many other tax surprises could be on your doorstep for 2020 taxes. PPP loans could increase your taxes and you did not even know it.
Don't get caught off guard
Generally, you'll be given the option to have 10% of your weekly benefit withheld for this purpose before you start collecting that money. Otherwise, you can collect your benefits in full and then make estimated quarterly tax payments to the IRS.
But you can't sit back and assume that you won't face any tax liability on those benefits, because that's just not reality. And unfortunately, a lot of people are uninformed in this regard. In a recent survey, 38% of respondents said they didn't know that unemployment benefits were taxable in the first place. Furthermore, 61% of respondents have not withheld or set aside money from their unemployment pay for their 2020 income taxes.
Remember, our tax system works on a pay-as-you-go basis. The IRS wants its share of your unemployment income as you collect it. The better you prepare now, the less likely you'll be to encounter a shock when April rolls around.