Due to the pandemic and Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the 2021 tax season may look a bit different this year. By becoming familiar with certain deductions and rules, you may be able to potentially avoid costly mistakes. Here’s what you need to know for the unique 2021 tax season:
Stimulus Payments are Not Taxable
The IRS sent out two rounds of stimulus payments, one in March 2020 and another in late December and early January. If you received a stimulus payment, rest assured it won’t be considered taxable income. Also, if you received more money than you qualify for based on your 2020 income, you wouldn’t have to repay the funds.
Unemployment Benefits are Taxable
Contrary to popular belief, unemployment benefits are taxable income by the IRS and in almost every state. There is the possibility taxes weren’t taken out of your payments, you may receive a 1099 form showing your unemployment benefits income. You’ll need to pay taxes on the amount of money you made through unemployment benefits before the 2021 tax season.
Home Office Deduction is Not for Everyone
If you worked from home because of the pandemic, you might assume you automatically qualify for the home deduction. Unfortunately, you can’t deduct work-related expenses if you’re an employee on an employer’s payroll. A home office deduction is only an option if you’re a freelancer, entrepreneur, or another self-employed individual.
RMDs Require Special Attention
Even though Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) were suspended for 2020, you may have taken your RMD at the start of 2020 before the CARES Act. If so, you had until August 31st, 2020, or 60 days after the payout, to distribute the RMD back into your account and treat it as a subsequent redeposit as a tax-free rollover. If you didn’t undo any RMDs last year. You’re still required to pay taxes on the distribution.
Charitable Deductions May Save You Money
If you made charitable deductions in 2020, you could deduct up to 100% of your adjusted gross income (your total income minus other deductions) in qualified charitable deductions. This is great news if you itemize your deductions. If you opt for the standard deduction, you can take advantage of the “above-the-line deduction,” which will allow you to write off up to $300 of charitable deductions you made in cash.
Consult Your Tax Professional
We encourage you to meet with your tax professional. In order to determine how these tax changes may affect you during this 2021 tax season.
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