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I-Team: COVID-19’s impact on 2020 tax returns

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EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted virtually every aspect of our lives, including our tax returns.

The I-Team talks with tax preparation experts about what you need to know and questions you should ask as you prepare your 2020 tax return for the IRS.

Tax experts tell the I-Team that there are so many variables and factors this year because of COVID-19 that could have an impact on a person’s tax return.

“Will everything be alright and will I get everything straightened out?” Donna from Warrior Run asked.

71-year-old Donna from Warrior Run says she has never been so concerned and confused about her tax return as she is this year.

“It’s been horrible. I mean everyone I think is in the same boat. You just don’t know what to expect,” Donna said.

And she’s apparently not alone. Karen and Michelle Hazleton are certified public accountants. They are fielding lots of never-before-heard questions from their clients.

“I think one of the biggest questions we have for our customers this year is did they get a stimulus check and how much of a stimulus check did you get and there’s so much concern that I’m going to put it on their tax returns, that it will be taxable income. It isn’t. The IRS just wants us to reconcile the stimulus check with your tax return,” Karen said.

Hazleton says if you did not receive a stimulus check, you may still be able to get one.

“For instance in 2019 your tax return was very high. You had a lot of income and you didn’t get a stimulus check and your income goes down in 2020. The IRS will give you your stimulus check as part of your tax return,” Karen said.

Another question she hears a lot– are there any tax breaks for people who had to work from home in 2020?

“Unfortunately the IRS says for this year, not going to happen. If you’re self-employed it’s a little bit of a different story but the average work from home W-2 employee for federal tax wise there’s no assistance,” Karen said.

And what if you received unemployment compensation income?

“I think it’s helped people bring in a lot of extra money than they made in the previous year because of all the COVID relief, the extra money they were getting every two weeks. I think it also affected people’s refunds. Unemployment doesn’t necessarily take out a lot of tax so when they collect vast majority of income this year from unemployment it has affected their refund at the end of the year,” Michelle said.

The Hazletons tell the I-Team that COVID-19 has really changed the tax landscape this year. And as a result they are seeing more new clients than ever before.

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