LANCASTER, Pa. — Between unemployment payments and stimulus checks, people's tax returns might look a bit different this year.
The IRS will start accepting returns this year starting on February 12th.
More people may be entitled to certain tax credits because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
FOX43 Finds Out how to make sure your tax filing season goes smoothly.
What do I do if I didn't get my stimulus payment?
What taxes do I owe on my unemployment checks?
I haven't received my refund for 2019, do I have to file my 2020 return?
These are just a handful of questions fox43 finds out has received related to this year's tax filing season.
We took those questions to an expert, CPA Rich Landis from Landis and Associates in Lancaster County.
"Hey there is so much going on, you read this, you hear this you hear that what's true, what's not true," said Landis.
He says one of the top questions he gets about tax returns relates to stimulus payments.
Which Landis says, should have no impact on your refund at all if you've already been paid the correct amount
However, if the IRS didn't pay you enough or if you didn't get one or both stimulus payments you were entitled to now is the time to claim that.
"If you did not receive enough, you then receive additional credit on your 2020 return. and this is what's interesting, I don't ever remember it happening like this, but if you got paid too much, you don't have to pay it back," said Landis.
If you were owed a stimulus payment and never got one, you'll have to file for a "Recovery Rebate Credit" on your tax return.
This also includes if you have a child you never got credit for either.
Landis says this can be a bit confusing, especially because it's new.
"We all know that tax law is never written well, what can you say about the tax law that was written quickly?"
Another popular question Landis gets from his clients is about unemployment payments.
Thousands of Pennsylvanians who filed for regular unemployment or pandemic unemployment assistance will need another tax document this year.
Look for a UC or PUA 1099G form in the mail.
"That's going to have all the information you need in order to report that on your tax return."
Unemployment payments are not taxed by the state or your local government.
Federal taxes on those payments are a different story.
Your unemployment documents will come from the PA Department of Labor and Industry, however, the PA Treasury has issued some resources. You can follow the links here.
However, if you have questions that you need to ask the IRS about, good luck.
"You can't call the IRS, we can't call the IRS, there's really nothing you can do other than checking the website," said Landis.
As we enter another tax season, some people who filed paper returns for 2019 are STILL waiting for their refund from the IRS.
The CPA said, "They got about 40% of the returns filed by the paper that they didn't process yet. It was frustrating before trying to work and get through to the IRS, now it's virtually impossible."
After being in the tax business for 40 years, Landis has seen a lot.
The CPA has a piece of advice for people who want to save money and do their own tax returns.
"If you don't have the wherewithal to know whether that final product is correct, you should not be doing your own taxes."
As of right now, the deadline to file your tax returns is April 15th.
We asked Landis if he thinks that deadline could be pushed back again this year - considering the IRS has already pushed back the date for people to submit their returns this year.
The CPA said last year set a precedent so he wouldn't be surprised if it happened again.
There are resources for free filing online. The IRS has the offers listed here.
Here are two new tax laws to keep in mind that may boost your refund:
- Charitable donations deduction: Individual taxpayers can claim an "above-the-line" deduction of up to $300 for cash donations made to charity during 2020. This means the deduction lowers both adjusted gross income and taxable income – translating into tax savings for those making donations to qualifying tax-exempt organizations.
- Teachers: Educators can now claim up to $250 for PPE related expenses fro their classroom for their 2020 returns.
However, some experts are also saying to file your 2020 return as soon as possible.
If you made less money in 2020 than you did in 2019, you might be entitled to more money if there is another round of stimulus payments.