Beware of Tax Consequences of a Job Loss

Brian SingletonBlog, Old Site, Watch Your Wallet

Given the current economic conditions, you may be faced with tax questions surrounding a job loss and unemployment issues.

Here’s some answers:

Q: What if I receive unemployment compensation?

A: Unemployment compensation you received under the unemployment compensation laws of the United States or of a state must be included in your income. It is taxable income. If you received unemployment compensation, you should receive Form 1099-G showing the amount you were paid and any federal income tax you elected to have withheld.

Note: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will temporarily change the taxation of unemployment benefits for the 2009 tax year only. Under the new economic stimulus law, the first $2,400 of unemployment benefits received in 2009 will not be subject to federal taxes. The exemption will be reflected on tax returns filed in 2010.

Q: What if I lose my job?

A: The loss of a job may create new tax issues. Severance pay and unemployment compensation are taxable. Payments for any accumulated vacation or sick time also are taxable. You should ensure that enough taxes are withheld from these payments or make estimated tax payments to avoid a big bill at tax time. Public assistance and food stamps are not taxable. The IRS has updated a helpful publication which lists a number of job-loss related tax issues.

Q: What if I am searching for a job?

A: You may be able to deduct certain expenses you incur while looking for a new job, even if you do not get a new job. Expenses may include travel, resume and outplacement agency fees. Moving costs for a new job at least 50 miles away from your home may also be deductible.

Q: What if my employer goes out of business or in bankruptcy?

A: Your employer must provide you with a 2008 W-2 Form showing your wages and withholdings by January 31, 2009. You should keep up-to-date records or pay stubs until you receive your Form W-2. If your employer or its representatives fails to provide you with a Form W-2, contact the IRS and we can help by providing you with a substitute Form W-2. If your employer is liquidating your 401(k) plan, you have 60 days to roll it over to another qualified retirement plan or IRA.

If you have experienced a job loss and have questions, please call us. You need to be prepare for the tax consequences.