Nebraska has joined the list of 24 US states who are ending participation in the $300 weekly federal bonus checks starting as soon as June. Those unemployment payments are otherwise scheduled to run until Sept. 6 as part of thepassed in March. The benefits also include pandemic unemployment assistance for people who are self-employed.
Labor Department officials said last week that the federal government can’t intervene to provide jobless benefits once states cancel participation. The White House also is unable to force state governors to pay out the extra federal benefits.
So what does that mean if you’re unemployed? We’ll tell you what you need to know, including how theto those taxed on their 2020 unemployment checks. Here’s the latest about the advanced starting in July and . You might also be interested in how you could get — like day care costs — with the new child tax credit and if the government has . This story has been updated with new information.
States ending participation in the enhanced federal unemployment benefits
With Nebraska canceling its program, 24 states have now announced plans to cancel the pandemic-related unemployment benefits. Citing labor shortages, state governors claim that this unemployment coverage discourages workers from taking jobs. Some economists and analysts disagree, noting that several factors are preventing people from finding suitable work — including lack of child care and fear of contracting COVID-19.
A few days after Montana reported its withdrawal from pandemic-related unemployment programs on May 4, the US Chamber of Commerce called for an end to the $300 weekly federal bonus. Other states soon followed.
Here are the states that have announced an early halt to enhanced jobless benefits, and the new end dates. (If your state is not listed here, benefits are set to expire on Labor Day.)
States ending particpatiion in enhanced jobless benefits
|New Hampshire||June 19|
|North Dakota||June 19|
|South Carolina||June 30|
|South Dakota||June 26|
|West Virginia||June 19|
Some of those states, including Arizona, Montana, New Hampshire and Oklahoma, will instead offer financial incentives for individuals to find work.
Other states that are not ceasing their participation in federal programs will reimpose stricter rules — many of which were suspended during the pandemic — for those collecting unemployment. Hawaii, for example, is requiring that jobless workers prove they are actively searching for work.
What about PUA, benefits for people who are self-employed?
The March extension of unemployment benefits also applied to Pandemic Unemployment Assistance: aid for workers who aren’t normally eligible for unemployment insurance. It covers freelancers, gig workers, independent contractors and part-time workers.
The states that are cutting off the enhanced benefits are also stopping PUA and terminating the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program.
In a May 13 letter to the Department of Labor, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders appealed to the federal government to continue providing pandemic unemployment assistance to workers. Stating that jobless Americans will plunge into poverty in states slashing federal aid, the letter argued, “The PUA program has served as a backstop for our broken and outdated unemployment insurance (UI) system for over a year.”
Has there been any response to states cutting off unemployment aid early?
In his remarks on the economy on May 10, President Joe Biden responded to states canceling pandemic jobless benefits and reaffirmed the guidelines for receiving federal unemployment insurance. “We’re going to make it clear that anyone collecting unemployment who is offered a suitable job must take the job or lose their unemployment benefits,” Biden said. “That’s the law.”
According to the Department of Labor, if you turn down a suitable job, you can be denied unemployment benefits: “You must be able, ready and willing to accept a suitable job.” The New York Times reported that the Biden administration asked the Labor Department to make sure unemployed workers cannot continue to draw benefits if they turn down a suitable job offer.
Last week, Labor Department officials reported that their hands were tied and could not counter decisions by state governors to stop participation in the national unemployment programs.
Can I get the weekly $300 bonus if I’m getting unemployment benefits?
Unless your state is one of those that have recently opted out (see list above), thewill continue until Labor Day, Sept. 6, granting a $300 weekly federal bonus on top of what the state pays. That extra money could allow unemployment recipients to receive a total of up to $7,500 for the 25 weeks spanning from March to September.
While unemployment rates are lower than they were at the start of the pandemic last year, as of this April some 16 million Americans (1 in 10 workers) were still receiving some kind of jobless aid. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than one in four jobless Americans have been without unemployment for over a year.
In 2020, as part of the, those receiving unemployment were eligible for an additional $600 weekly until the end of last July. Weekly bonuses picked up again with last year’s December relief package, but for half the amount, $300. It doesn’t appear that the renewed $300 weekly bonuses can be applied retroactively.
Could enhanced pandemic aid extend beyond September?
It’s possible. But much depends on what happens with the economic rebound over the summer and the debate over unemployment programs.
For example, while some members of Congress have pushed for the additional unemployment insurance money to continue through the pandemic, other lawmakers are outright opposed or increasingly skeptical of the added benefit, according to Politico.
Is there anything else significant to know about state cutoffs and unemployment benefits?
States have a limit on how many weeks a person can stay on unemployment. Most provide 26 weeks, with some granting as few as 12 weeks and others as many as 30 weeks. Before the, the federal government had extended pandemic relief benefits to the unemployed an additional 24 weeks. Under the current package, federal unemployment insurance will be extended through Labor Day, offering a total of 53 weeks of additional benefits — except for states opting out.
While many states have automatically renewed unemployment insurance benefits, some recipients may have issues when they reach the benefit year ending date. States limit benefits to one year, and that compensation is typically cut off after that date. Many states require recipients to either file a new claim or request an extension. Because it varies from state to state, those who have been unemployed for at least a year should get in contact with their state’s labor department.
How is eligibility considered for the tax exemption on unemployment benefits?
First, it’s important to know that the IRS treats unemployment insurance as income, which means it’s subject to taxation. In most cases, the state can withhold taxes like a typical paycheck. However, it’s estimated that 10 million unemployment benefit recipients had no taxes withheld, which means they would owe a substantial amount when filing tax returns.
To counter that, the March stimulus law includes a(or up to $20,400 for those filing jointly) for those with an adjusted gross income under $150,000 during the 2020 year. How does the exemption in the new legislation work? The first $10,200 of unemployment insurance will not be taxable, so if someone received $20,000 of benefits in 2020, they will only be taxed on $9,800 of it.
Some states are not providing a tax break. According to a chart by the tax preparation service H&R Block, 11 states aren’t offering the tax break: Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island and South Carolina. Other states, like Indiana and Wisconsin, are only offering a partial tax break.
When will I get the refund on overpaid unemployment taxes?
According to the Department of the Treasury, some 7.3 million people are eligible to receive unemployment tax refunds. Theto those eligible. The agency will continue to issue refunds through the summer as and reviews taxes paid on 2020 unemployment benefits.
The IRS has issued instructions on how to enter the exemption on tax forms. People who already filed their taxes this year without the exemption will have their returns automatically recalculated by the IRS. (Those refund checks have already started being issued.) While the IRS has said that taxpayers do not need to file anto get their tax break, a handful of states are requiring taxpayers to file an amended state tax return to get a state refund. Here’s how to find out your state’s rules.
What about qualification details for Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation?
For the first time, thein early 2020 allowed some self-employed workers to temporarily qualify for unemployment benefits. The December 2020 stimulus bill had added additional compensation for someone earning a mixed income from a traditional job and employment as a contractor, who would either receive the unemployment insurance payment or PUA, but not both.
With the Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation program, a person who made substantial income from self-employment or a contracting job could receive an extra $100 a week. The MEUC has been extended with the American Rescue Plan Act until Sept. 6.
For example, let’s say you made $50,000 in 2019, which was split between $30,000 from a contractor job and $20,000 from a part-time job at a company. If you were laid off, the state unemployment office would calculate whether you’d receive benefits for the $30,000 via PUA or $20,000 via unemployment insurance, but not a combination of the two.
Though someone who works a traditional job and makes $50,000 a year in New York would receive $480 a week from unemployment insurance, by having a mix of the two you’d get the greater of the two different amounts, which would be the PUA of $288 a week rather than the $280 from unemployment.
Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation will now give that person an extra $100, but only if the state participates. It may still be some time before certain states determine whether or not they will implement the MEUC program.
Do I still have time to apply for unemployment benefits?
If you’ve been laid off or furloughed, you’refrom the state where you live. Once the state approves your claim, you can apply to receive whatever state benefits you’re entitled to. Because states cover 30% to 50% of a person’s wages, there isn’t a single sum you could expect on a national basis. Each state’s labor office provides information about its particular unemployment benefits.
Eligibility criteria vary from state to state, but the general rule is that you should apply if you’ve lost your job or been furloughed through no fault of your own. This would include a job lost directly or indirectly because of the pandemic.
In February, the federal Department of Labor updated its eligibility requirements to include people who refused to return to work due to unsafe coronavirus standards.