Tax Options for Gig Economy Workers and Those with Unemployment Benefits

IRS

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Internal Revenue Service is reminding workers in the gig economy and those who claimed unemployment compensation in 2020 of their options and where to find information on meeting their tax obligations.

Gig economy

The gig economy refers to income earned providing on-demand work performing services or selling goods, including driving a car for booked rides or deliveries, renting out property, selling goods online or freelance work. Often, customers and service providers or sellers are brought together through a digital platform on an app or website. Visit the Gig Economy Tax Center on IRS.gov to learn more about withholding and estimated tax requirements for these types of earned income and paid services.

Taxpayers should collect and keep records and receipts during the year. Recordkeeping can help track income, deduct expenses and complete tax returns.

Unemployment benefits

A record number of Americans applied for unemployment compensation in 2020 due to the pandemic. Anyone who received unemployment benefits will need to report it on their tax returns.

However, the American Rescue Plan, enacted on March 11, 2021, excludes from income up to $10,200 ($20,400 if married filing jointly) of unemployment compensation paid in 2020 for those with modified adjusted gross income under $150,000. Any amount over $10,200 is still taxable for each person. To determine if payments received for being unemployed are taxable, check out the Interactive Tax Assistant on IRS.gov.

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For those who have already filed their 2020 tax return and paid taxes on the full amount of unemployment compensation before the law was passed, they should not file an amended return. The IRS will automatically refund to people who already filed their tax return reporting unemployment compensation.

The IRS will recompute any credits and deductions claimed on the original return. However, if the reduction of income now qualifies a taxpayer for a new credit not claimed on the original return, like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), those taxpayers will need to file an amended tax return, Form 1040x, to claim the new credit. Taxpayers can see if they qualify for the EITC at IRS.gov.

Unemployment benefit recipients should have received a Form 1099-G, Certain Government Payments, from the agency paying the benefits. The form will show the amount of unemployment compensation they received in 2020 in Box 1, and any federal income tax withheld in Box 4.

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Some states do not mail Form 1099-Gs. Taxpayers may need to get the electronic version from their state’s website.

Taxpayers who received an incorrect Form 1099-G for unemployment benefits they did not receive should contact the issuing state agency to request a revised Form 1099-G showing they did not receive these benefits.

Taxpayers who are unable to obtain a timely, corrected form from their state should still file an accurate tax return, reporting only the income they received. A corrected Form 1099-G showing zero unemployment benefits in cases of identity theft will help taxpayers avoid an unexpected federal tax bill for unreported income.

Additionally, if taxpayers are concerned that their personal information has been stolen and they want to protect their identity when filing their federal tax return, they can request an Identity Protection Pin (IP PIN) from the IRS.

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Generally, by law, unemployment compensation must be included as income. Taxable benefits include any of the special unemployment compensation authorized under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, enacted in 2020.

If a taxpayer didn’t report income from gig work or unemployment compensation on a return, a corrected return can be filed using Form 1040-X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. Form 1040-X can be filed electronically.

Taxpayers who owe but can’t pay in full always have options to seek help through payment plans and other tools from IRS.gov/payments.

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