2020 tax filing: Tips for people who got unemployment benefits or never got stimulus payment

CHICAGO (WLS) -- With tax season just a few days away, experts say there are two important forms many people need to pay attention to, especially if you filed for unemployment or didn't receive a full stimulus payment.

This first form will likely be new to a lot of people: the 1099-G tax form. If you received unemployment benefits from the state last year, you should be receiving one of these forms if you haven't already.

"Collecting unemployment is considered taxable income, so the 1099-G is a summary of how much you received in a given year, and it also indicates if any state or federal taxes were withheld for that unemployment income," said tax expert Chad Elkins.

Elkins says if you received unemployment benefits, the form 1099-G should already be filled out by the state. You'll take the number included in box 1 and report it as income on your tax return.

"And the part that they really need to remember is to enter the taxes that were withheld because I see a lot of people forgetting to do that," Elkins said.

But what if you receive a 1099-G form but never actually applied for unemployment benefits?

The Illinois Department of Employment Security says if this happens to you, you're likely a victim of unemployment benefit fraud.

IDES Acting Director Kristin Richards wants fraud victims who receive the form to report it.

"Please follow the steps outlined on the form to contact the agency," Richards said. "You can go to the agency's website, view information regarding the 1099-G form. You can also call the agency, and a call center agent is going to help you...We are going to make sure that you are not held liable for any of those taxes."

Another important section to note is the recovery rebate credit. You'll find it on the 1040 form.

While stimulus payments are not considered taxable income, the IRS wants to know how much you received.

For those people who did not receive the full amount for the first or second stimulus payments, the IRS says it'll give you a credit, which will be applied to your taxes.

But whichever category you fall in, Elkins says filing your taxes as soon as possible is incredibly important this year, especially if you're counting on a refund.

"It's very much an unusual tax season because of everything that happened last year," Elkins said. "So be sure and stay organized and get your documents collected."

Elkins says if you're working with a tax professional be sure to ask questions if there's anything you don't understand. If you're hoping to be among the first to file, the first day you can file is Friday, February 12.
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