(NEXSTAR) – With the end of 2020 approaching, the Internal Revenue Service wants people to know about changes that may affect their tax returns, including those people who never received a stimulus check, or got less than they should have.
The IRS issued a news release Tuesday to help people prepare for the upcoming tax season, highlighting four changes you should be aware of.
Still no stimulus check?
As part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Security (CARES) Act, the government sent $1,200 stimulus checks to Americans ($2,400 for married people filing jointly) and $500 for each qualifying child.
Not everyone received their checks as intended, however. People who didn’t file a tax return in 2018 or 2019 and didn’t send the IRS their information before the 2020 deadline may not have received a check.
If you didn’t receive a stimulus check, or the payment was less than what you should have received, you are still eligible to receive that money in the form of a Recovery Rebate Credit.
The IRS encourages everyone – especially those who believe they received too little – to keep the Notice 1444, sent out after the payments, for their records.
The IRS says that payments to Americans as part of the CARES Act are not taxable for federal income tax purposes. For those people who received a partial stimulus payment, that amount will be deducted from any Recovery Rebate Credit.
Is the interest on my 2020 refund taxable?
Yes. Some 13.9 million taxpayers who received refunds after filing by the July 25, 2020 deadline, also received interest payments from the government because the deadline was postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The interest payments, averaging $18, are taxable and need to be reported. In January, 2021, the IRS will send Form 1099-INT to anyone who received interest totaling at least $10.
$300 tax deduction for charitable giving
The IRS is reminding taxpayers that this year they can deduct up to $300 in donations to qualifying charities without having to itemize.
“Our nation’s charities are struggling to help those suffering from COVID-19, and many deserving organizations can use all the help they can get,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said in a news release the day before Thanksgiving. “The IRS reminds people there’s a new provision that allows for up to $300 in cash donations to qualifying organizations to be deducted from income. We encourage people to explore this option to help deserving tax-exempt organizations – and the people and causes they serve.”
How long will it take to get my refund?
The IRS is once again warning people not to make purchases that rely on a speedy tax refund for payment. Processing times can’t be known in advance, and the IRS says its identity theft and refund fraud protection can take time.
“Just like last year, refunds for tax returns claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit or Additional Child Tax Credit, cannot be issued before mid-February,” the IRS said in Wednesday’s release. “This applies to the entire refund, even the portion not associated with these credits.”
For the fastest and safest way to get your refund, the IRS recommends combining direct deposit with electronic filing, including the IRS Free File program. You can also track your refund using the Where’s My Refund? tool.
The IRS has created a special page for more information when filing taxes in 2021.