The Internal Revenue Service reported that another 1.5 million taxpayers will receive refunds averaging more than $1,600 as it continues to adjust unemployment compensation from previously filed income tax returns.

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which became law in March, excluded up to $10,200 in 2020 unemployment compensation from taxable income calculations. The exclusion applied to individuals and married couples whose modified adjusted gross income was less than $150,000.

Refunds by direct deposit will begin July 28 and refunds by paper check will begin July 30. This is the fourth round of refunds related to the unemployment compensation exclusion provision.

Since May, the IRS has issued over 8.7 million unemployment compensation refunds totaling over $10 billion. The IRS will continue reviewing and adjusting tax returns in this category this summer.

The IRS effort focused on minimizing burden on taxpayers so that most people won’t have to take any additional action to receive the refund. The IRS review means most taxpayers affected by this change will not have to file an amended return because IRS employees have reviewed and adjusted their tax returns for them. For taxpayers who overpaid, the IRS will either refund the overpayment or apply it to other outstanding taxes or other federal or state debts owed.

For this round, the IRS identified approximately 1.7 million taxpayers due an adjustment. Of that number, approximately 1.5 million taxpayers are expected to receive a refund. The refund average is $1,686.

The IRS started with the simplest tax returns and is now reviewing more complex returns. The average refund amount is higher for this round because the IRS included an adjustment to the Advance Premium Tax Credit (APTC).

Most taxpayers need not take any action and there is no need to call the IRS. However, if, because of the excluded unemployment compensation, taxpayers are now eligible for deductions or credits not claimed on the original return, they should file a Form 1040-X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.

Taxpayers should file an amended return if they:

  • did not submit a Schedule 8812 with the original return to claim the Additional Child Tax Credit and are now eligible for the credit after the unemployment compensation exclusion;
  • did not submit a Schedule EIC with the original return to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (with qualifying dependents) and are now eligible for the credit after the unemployment compensation exclusion;
  • are now eligible for any other credits and/or deductions not mentioned below. Make sure to include any required forms or schedules.

Taxpayers do not need to file an amended return if they:

  • already filed a tax return and did not claim the unemployment exclusion; the IRS will determine the correct taxable amount of unemployment compensation and tax;
  • have an adjustment, because of the exclusion, that will result in an increase in any non-refundable or refundable credits reported on the original return;
  • did not claim the following credits on their tax return but are now eligible when the unemployment exclusion is applied: Recovery Rebate Credit, Earned Income Credit with no qualifying dependents or the Advance Premium Tax Credit. The IRS will calculate the credit and include it in any overpayment;
  • filed a married filing joint return, live in a community property state, and entered a smaller exclusion amount than entitled on Schedule 1, line 8.

Taxpayers will generally receive letters from the IRS within 30 days of the adjustment, informing them of what kind of adjustment was made (such as refund, payment of IRS debt payment or payment offset for other authorized debts) and the amount of the adjustment.

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