CORONAVIRUS

2020 Taxes: Everything You Need To Know About Filing This Year

Feb 14, 2021, 3:29 PM
The unprecedented events of 2020 changed so much about life as we knew it. (Shutterstock)...
The unprecedented events of 2020 changed so much about life as we knew it. (Shutterstock)
(Shutterstock)

 (CNN) — The unprecedented events of 2020 changed so much about life as we knew it.

And many of the changes and upheavals from last year have caused changes to your tax returns this year. Due to the COVID crisis, there are plenty of new and revised provisions and important dates you will need to know about before filing your 2020 taxes this year. Here are some of the most important ones.

When can I file my 2020 taxes?

The IRS will begin accepting federal tax returns on Friday, February 12.

Yes, that’s later than normal.

Typically tax filing season opens in the second half of January. But the IRS needed more time to program and test its systems to ensure they were ready for this year’s tax season since the agency was very busy at the end of 2020 getting out the second round of economic relief payments to Americans.

When are taxes due?

Despite the later than usual start date for filing season, you must file and pay any remaining federal income taxes you owe for 2020 by the traditional due date of April 15, unless you file for an extension (see next question).

That way you will avoid being hit with any potential late filing or late payment penalties.

But if you do miss your filing or payment deadlines, you may be eligible for first-time penalty relief.

Can I file for an extension?

Yes. You may get an automatic six-month extension to file your 2020 federal income taxes — meaning they won’t be due until October 15. To do so, submit your request to the IRS by April 15.

But note that an extension to file is not an extension to pay what you owe. You still must pay any remaining federal taxes owed on your 2020 income by April 15, if you want to avoid a potential late payment penalty.

And if you’re owed a refund, taking longer to file your taxes means you will wait longer to get your refund.

When can I expect my refund?

Typically refunds are issued within 21 days of the IRS receiving your return. But the agency notes the fastest way for you to receive yours is to file electronically and choose direct deposit.

To better assess when yours might arrive, you can check the IRS tool “Where’s My Refund?” either within 24 hours of when the agency indicates it has received your e-filed return or four weeks after you mailed in your paper return.

Are my stimulus payments taxable?

No. The money is tax-free.

But some people who are eligible for the money didn’t receive it — primarily those whose 2019 income was higher than their 2020 income or people who did not file tax returns for 2019 or 2018. They will be able to receive the money owed them via their federal tax return so long as they claim the refundable Recovery Rebate Credit.

That credit will reduce your income tax liability dollar-for-dollar. And to the extent the credit exceeds your tax liability, you’ll get the remainder as a refund.

For more, see here and here.

Are my unemployment benefits taxable?

Yes. Unemployment compensation is treated as taxable income, both by the IRS and by most states. (The exceptions are Alabama, Alaska, California, Florida, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.)

If you didn’t opt to have any income tax withheld from your unemployment payments during the year, the full tax bite will be assessed when you file your return.

But if your 2020 income was very low because you didn’t work for a big chunk of last year, it’s unlikely you will have to cut a check to the tax man. Instead you will see your refund reduced by the amount of income taxes you owe on your jobless benefits.

What other new pandemic-related tax changes should I know about?

Congress made a number of changes to tax benefits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, or created new ones for individuals and small business owners to provide pandemic relief.

Small business owners who received a tax-free, forgiven loan from the Paycheck Protection Program may still deduct the businesses expenses they paid for with their loan money.

Individuals who take the standard deduction may now take a new charitable deduction even though they are not itemizing.

And eligible self-employed people may claim a new sick leave and family leave tax credit that was created by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Coronavirus

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 09: A pharmacist prepares to administer  COVID-19 vaccine booster sho...
Jed Boal

University Health recommends getting omicron booster and flu shot now

The CDC approved the COVID-19 bivalent boosters that target the most recent omicron variants on September 1. Since then, tens of thousands of Utahns have rolled up their sleeves.
1 day ago
FILE: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 (left) and Moderna COVID-19 (right) vaccines are seen at a vaccinati...
Jed Boal

Despite reaching 5,000 deaths, Utah’s COVID-19 numbers are down

The director of the World Health Organization said yesterday about COVID-19, “the end is in sight,” even if we are not there yet.
12 days ago
FILE PHOTO (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)...
Associated Press

WHO: COVID end ‘in sight,’ deaths at lowest since March 2020

The head of the World Health Organization says the number of coronavirus deaths last week was the lowest reported number in the pandemic since March 2020, marking what could be a turning point in the years-long global outbreak.
12 days ago
A school classroom with chairs and desks...
Brooke Williams

Project to provide air purifiers in Utah K-12 classrooms

Cleaner air improves student performance, decreases COVID transmission and school absenteeism. New project provides air purifiers for classrooms in Utah.
13 days ago
SHANGHAI, CHINA - JULY 08: People walk by a closed store at a neighborhood designated as a medium-r...
Laura He, CNN Business

Zero- COVID-19 at what price? Chinese researchers are treading on sensitive ground

Authorities in Shanghai have denied a report by a leading Chinese real estate research firm that claimed more than a third of shops in a major mall had been shuttered because of strict COVID-19 curbs.
15 days ago
FILE: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 (left) and Moderna COVID-19 (right) vaccines are seen at a vaccinati...
LAURA UNGAR AP Science Writer

Is COVID-19 winding down? Scientists say no

New booster shots have arrived and social distancing guidelines have eased but COVID-19 infections aren't going away anytime soon. Experts predict the scourge that's already lasted longer than the 1918 flu pandemic will linger far into the future as the virus continues to cause deaths and may well mutate or evolve into a new disease.
19 days ago

Sponsored Articles

young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Types of Computer Malware and Examples...
PC Laptops

5 Nasty Types of Computer Malware and Examples | Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Computer and Family Safe

Here are the different types of computer malware and examples that could potentially infect your computer.
tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
2020 Taxes: Everything You Need To Know About Filing This Year