Are my unemployment benefits for the year 2021 tax-free?


Many people received unemployment benefits last year, despite the fact that the jobless situation wasn’t nearly as terrible as it was in 2020. This was especially true earlier in the year when things improved and vaccines were made more readily available.

It’s understandable that if you received unemployment benefits in 2021, you would be concerned about how they will affect your upcoming tax return.

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In fact, you may have heard that unemployment payments are exempt from taxation during the pandemic. This is true. However, while this was once the case, it is no longer the case if you received benefits the previous year. The requirements must be understood in order to properly file your 2021 tax return, which is due on April 18, 2021.

A small tax exemption is available.

According to the American Rescue Plan, which was passed into law in March 2021, its goal was to provide universal relief at a time when the pandemic was still raging, and we did not have instruments like readily available immunizations to offer protection.

The implementation of that assistance package resulted in a slew of good developments. It deposited $1,400 in stimulus cheques into Americans’ bank accounts, increased the Child Tax Credit, and extended unemployment benefits for a significant portion of the fiscal year 2021.

Other measures implemented as part of the American Rescue Plan include the exemption of up to $10,200 in unemployment compensation from taxation for the 2020 taxation year. As a result, jobless people who received benefits during the first year of the epidemic received a substantial cash windfall.

However, the American Rescue Plan does not include a provision for a tax exemption for unemployment payments received after 2021. If you received unemployment benefits last year but did not make arrangements to have taxes withheld from that income, you will have to reconcile the amounts you owe when it comes time to file your 2021 tax return.

That being said, even if you received unemployment benefits last year and had no tax taken from your paycheck, it doesn’t mean you’ll be writing a check to the Internal Revenue Service this tax season.

Perhaps you had an excessive amount of tax withheld while you were still employed, and so while you owe money on your unemployment benefits, the amount owed is offset by the amount of tax you already paid.

Alternatively, it’s possible that you’re eligible for enough tax credits to allow you to deduct your unemployment tax due entirely. In any case, you won’t know unless you crunch the facts and take a step back to consider the larger picture.

It would be beneficial to seek assistance.

A large number of people found the tax year 2021 to be difficult. Many employees transitioned from salaried positions to self-employment as freelancers, and many more took on side jobs to supplement their income. In addition, a large number of people received unemployment benefits despite the fact that they did not have a job.

In the event that you are unsure how to go about completing your 2021 taxes, it may be beneficial to consider hiring a professional to assist you. If your taxes aren’t extremely difficult — for example, if you don’t own a business or a number of properties — the costs you’ll be charged may be very small in comparison.

In exchange, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that you’re filing your taxes correctly and that you aren’t paying or collecting any more or less money from the IRS than you should be.


Master of Science student at the California Institute of Technology, Devanny. Since he began working as a freelance writer more than 4 years ago, he has contributed to various publications, including blogs, magazines, poetry websites, newspapers, and internet debates. Pankaj has been contributing original content to The Current in a freelance capacity throughout the past year. Words from Pankaj: "Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier."