WASHINGTON —The Internal Revenue Service is reminding taxpayers that organizing tax records is an important first step for getting ready to prepare and file their 2020 tax return.
Taxpayers should keep all necessary records, such as W-2s, 1099s, receipts, canceled checks and other documents that support an item of income, or a deduction or credit, appearing on their tax return.
Taxpayers should develop a system that keeps all their important information together, which could include a software program for electronic records or a file cabinet for paper documents in labeled folders. Having records readily at hand makes preparing a tax return easier.
To avoid refund delays, taxpayers should be sure to gather all year-end income documents so they can file a complete and accurate 2020 tax return.
Most taxpayers will receive income documents near the end of January including:
- Forms W-2, Wage and Tax Statement
- Form 1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Income
- Form 1099-INT, Interest Income
- Form 1099-NEC, Nonemployee Compensation
- Form 1099-G, Certain Government Payments; like unemployment compensation or state tax refund
- Form 1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statements
View IRS account online
Taxpayers can view their online account allowing them to access the latest information available about their federal tax account and most recently filed tax return through a secure and convenient tool on IRS.gov. This can help taxpayers if they need information from last year’s return.
Additionally, in the coming weeks, individuals with an account on IRS.gov/account will be able to view the amounts of the Economic Impact Payments they received as well as the latest information available about their federal tax account. Eligible individuals who did not receive the full amounts of both Economic Impact Payments may claim the Recovery Rebate Credit on their 2020 federal tax return. In order to claim the full amount of the Recovery Rebate Credit, taxpayers will need to know the amount of the Economic Impact Payments received.
Visit Secure Access: How to Register for Certain Online Self-Help Tools for more information about how to create an account or how to reset the username or password.
Remember unemployment compensation is taxable
Millions of Americans received unemployment compensation in 2020, many of them for the first time. This compensation is taxable and must be included as gross income on their tax return.
Taxpayers can expect to receive a Form 1099-G showing their unemployment income. Taxpayers can elect to have federal taxes withheld from their unemployment benefits or make estimated tax payments, but many do not take these options. In that case, taxes on those benefits will be paid when the 2020 tax return is filed. Therefore, taxpayers who did not have tax withheld from their payments may see a smaller refund than expected or even have a tax bill.
Individuals who receive a Form 1099-G for unemployment compensation they did not receive should contact their state tax agency and request a corrected Form 1099-G. States should not issue Forms 1099-Gs to taxpayers they know to be victims of identity theft involving unemployment compensation.
Taxpayers who are victims of identity theft involving unemployment compensation should not file an identity theft affidavit with the IRS.
Taxpayers can use 2019 income for Earned Income Tax Credit
For taxpayers with income less than $56,844 in 2020, they may be eligible to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit. The EITC Assistant, available in English and Spanish, can help determine who is eligible. The EITC is as much as $6,660 for a family with children or up to $538 for taxpayers who do not have a qualifying child.
And this tax season, there’s a new rule that can help people impacted by a job loss or change in income in 2020. Under the COVID-related Tax Relief Act of 2020, taxpayers may elect to use their 2019 earned income to figure the credit if their 2019 earned income is more than their 2020 earned income. The same is true for the Additional Child Tax Credit. For details, see the instructions for Form 1040 PDF or Publication 596, Earned Income Credit.
Electronic Filing makes filing easy
The best way to file a complete and accurate return is to file electronically and there are several options for doing this – some at no cost. Visit IRS.gov/filing for more details about IRS Free File, Free File Fillable Forms, Free tax preparation sites or by finding a trusted tax professional. Free File is a great option for people who are only filing a tax return to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit, either because they didn’t receive an Economic Impact Payment or did not receive the full amount.
IRS tax help is available 24 hours a day on IRS.gov, the official IRS website, where people can find answers to tax questions and resolve tax issues online from the safety of their home. The Let Us Help You page helps answer most tax questions, and the IRS Services Guide PDF links to other important IRS services.