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Unemployment tax refund update: 10 things to know about your IRS money

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Looking for clues about tax breaks on 2020 jobless benefits? Here’s how to access your tax transcript to check the status of your refund.

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If you paid taxes on your 2020 unemployment benefits and filed your tax return earlier this year, you may get a larger refund than you expected. Here’s why: In March, the US rescue plan made $10,200 of jobless benefits before 2020, or $20,400 of non-taxable income for married couples filing jointly. The IRS is making adjustments on the tax return and issuing a $1,686 refund to those who are eligible for that tax break.

What is disappointing is that the refund dates are not clear. The last batch of payments, which went to about 1.5 million taxpayers, ended a month ago. The IRS hasn’t released any news about the timeline other than what it calls “summer,” which officially ends on Sept. 22. While some have reported on social media that their IRS tax transcripts have pending refund dates, many other taxpayers are fed up because they haven’t received any money or updates at all.

If you’re still wondering where your refund is, we’ll explain how to access your tax transcript online for clues. We’ll show you why to look for an IRS TREAS 310 transaction on your bank statement or code 846 on your transcript. For other unemployment news, see the latest on the $300 weekly bonus payment ending this weekend. And here’s how the Child Tax Credit could affect your taxes in 2022. This story has been updated.

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Important things to know about the 2020 unemployment tax refund

In late May, the IRS began sending refunds to taxpayers who received jobless benefits in 2020 and paid taxes on that money prior to provision in the American Rescue Plan for individuals earning less than $150,000 a year. waived taxes for up to $10,200 in unemployment insurance benefits. With the latest batch of payments in July, the IRS has now issued more than 8.7 million unemployment compensation refunds, totaling more than $10 billion.

The first batch of these supplemental refunds went to the least-complicated returns (single taxpayers with no dependents), and more complex returns should have batches that continue throughout the summer. On July 13, the IRS said it sent 4 million more payments through direct deposit and paper checks, and another 1.5 million out since July 28.

According to an forum and another discussion on Twitter, some taxpayers who were married as a head of household or with dependents began receiving their IRS money in July or with dates in August and September. Started receiving updates on the transcript.

Here’s a quick recap of what we know:

  • The tax break is only for those who earned less than $150,000 in adjusted gross income and for unemployment insurance received during the pandemic in 2020.
  • $10,200 is the amount of the income exclusion for single filers, not the amount of the refund. The amount of the refund will vary per person depending on total income, tax bracket, and how much was earned from unemployment benefits.
  • Most taxpayers are not required to file an amended return to claim the exemption. But if you believe you are now eligible for a deduction or credit based on the adjustment, see the most recent IRS release for a list of those filing an amended return.
  • If the IRS determines that you owe a refund on unemployment tax breaks, it will automatically correct your return and send the refund without any additional action on your part.
  • Not everyone will get a refund. The IRS can forfeit refunds to cover past outstanding debt, such as unpaid federal or state taxes and child support.
  • Refunds started rolling out in May and would go out in batches over the summer as the agency evaluates tax returns. More complex returns may take longer to process.
  • The IRS is recalculating in stages, starting with single filers who are eligible for tax breaks of up to $10,200. It will then adjust returns for taxpayers who are married and filing jointly, who are eligible for a tax break of up to $20,400.
  • If you have provided bank account information in your 2020 tax return, the refund will go out in the form of direct deposit. The direct deposit amount will likely show up as IRS TREAS 310 TAX ​​REF.
  • Otherwise, the refund will be sent as a paper check to whatever address is in the hands of the IRS.
  • The IRS will send you a notice explaining the corrections within 30 days after the corrections are made.
  • Some states, but not all, are adopting unemployment exemptions for 2020 state income tax returns.

How to Check Your Refund Status on Your IRS Transcript

The IRS says eligible individuals should have received Form 1099-G from their state unemployment agency, showing the total unemployment compensation paid in 2020 in Box 1. (If you didn’t, you should request one online.) Some states may issue separate forms. Based on jobless benefits — for example, if you have received federal pandemic unemployment assistance, or PUA.

One way to know whether a refund has been issued is to wait for the letter that the IRS is sending to taxpayers whose returns are accurate. Those letters issued within 30 days of the adjustment will tell you whether this resulted in a refund or if it was used to pay off the loan. The IRS says don’t call the agency.

You can try the IRS online tracker application, aka the My Refund Tool and the Revised Return Status Tool, but they may not provide information on the status of your unemployment tax refund.

An immediate way to see if the IRS has processed your refund (and for how much) is by looking at your tax records online. You can also request a copy of your transcript by mail or through the IRS’s automated phone service by calling 1-800-908-9946.


Here’s how to check your tax transcript online:

1. Go to and log in to your account. If you haven’t opened an account with the IRS, it will take some time because you’ll need to take several steps to confirm your identity.

2. Once logged in to your account, you will see the account home page. Click View Tax Records.

3. On the next page click on Get Transcript button.

4. Here you will see a drop-down menu asking you the reason you need the transcript. Select Federal Tax and leave the Customer File Number field blank. Click on the Go button.

5. The following page will show a return transcript, record of account transcript, account transcript and wage and income transcript for the last four years. You want the 2020 account transcript.

6. This will open a PDF of your transcript: Pay attention to the Transactions section. What you’re looking for is an entry that is listed as a refund issued, and must have a date in late May or June.

If you don’t have that, it means the IRS hasn’t accessed your return yet.

Unemployment tax refund update: 10 things to know about your IRS money

IRS tax transcript codes decoded: 971, 846 and 776

Some taxpayers who have viewed their transcript reports see different tax codes, including 971 (when the notice was issued), 846 (the date and amount of the refund) and 776 (the amount of additional interest owed by the IRS). Other people are seeing code 290 with “Additional Tax Assessment” and $0.00 amount. Since these codes may be issued in many cases, including incentive checks and other tax refunds or adjustments, it is best to consult with the IRS or tax professional regarding your personal transcripts.

What to do if you await your unemployment return

It’s best to try to locate your tax transcript or track your refund using the Where’s My Refund tool (mentioned above). The IRS says you can expect delays if you mail a paper tax return or have to respond to the IRS about your electronically filed tax return. The IRS makes it clear not to file a second return: You should call if it’s been more than three weeks since your last update.

Keep in mind that the IRS has limited live support as the agency grapples with tax return backlogs, delayed incentive checks and child tax credit payments. You can still make a call, even if the chances of someone talking to you are slim. Here’s the best number to call: 1-800-829-1040.

Unknown details about unemployment tax breaks

The IRS provides only limited information on taxes and unemployment compensation on its website. We’re still unclear about future timelines for payments during the coming months, which banks receive direct deposits first or who to contact with the IRS if there’s a problem with your tax break refund. .

Also, since some states tax unemployment benefits entirely and others do not, you may have to do some digging to see if the unemployment tax break will apply to your state income taxes. This chart from tax preparation service H&R Block along with a state-by-state guide by Kiplinger may offer some clues.

Here’s how to track your tax return status and refund online and what we know about contacting the IRS for incentive check problems. For more information about incentive payments and relief assistance, see a child tax credit of up to $3,600 per child and details of who is eligible.

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