comscore Kokua Line: Federal plus-up is taxable, some jobless are surprised to learn | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Hawaii News | Kokua Line

Kokua Line: Federal plus-up is taxable, some jobless are surprised to learn

Question: I got my 1099-G from unemployment but the amount is way off — too high. My friends’ are all wrong too. Mine says I got $37,272. But my total weeks (39) multiplied by my weekly benefit amount ($648) equals $25,272. Are they including the plus- up? Are they allowed to do that? How do I fix this before I file my taxes?

Answer: Your 1099-G is correct, reflecting the amount you received in standard state Unemployment Insurance, its federally funded extension known as Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation and separate federal supplements informally known as the “plus-up.” All this money is subject to federal and state income taxes, as is Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which was designed for people not eligible for standard unemployment insurance.

We’ve reported this before, but it bears repeating as Kokua Line receives a flurry of questions from people starting to do their taxes and expressing surprise at how much replacement income (or partial-replacement income) they’ve received as unemployment compensation during the pandemic. Many wrongly assume that their 1099-G is incorrect.

To directly answer your questions: Yes, 1099-G benefit statements from the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations include the “plus-up” in the total amount received, as they are supposed to; there is nothing to fix because your statement is not wrong.

Other claimants who have asked similar questions report varying amounts, but the common denominator is the plus-up, which they either didn’t keep track of in their deposits or didn’t realize was taxable income.

Doing the math in your case, your 1099-G apparently includes your standard weekly benefit for 39 weeks ($25,272) and the maximum amount in “plus-up” paid in 2020 ($12,000), for a total of $37,272 paid to you in unemployment compensation in 2020.

The DLIR says the first iteration of the plus-up — Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation — paid up to $10,200 in 2020, at $600 a week for 17 weeks. The second iteration — Lost Wages Assistance — paid up to $1,800, at $300 a week for six weeks.

In 2021, there’s a third iteration, again called FPUC, currently paying $300 a week. Any claimant eligible for any amount of UI or PUA in a week also receives the full federal supplement available for that week.

Q: Did Tax-Aide ever reopen?

A: Yes, “several sites are now open and accepting appointments,” AARP spokesman Craig Gima said in an email Tuesday, referring readers to the Hawaii website taxaidehi.org/site-information for details.

Click on the PDFs at the bottom of that page to see locations available statewide and the phone numbers to call to make an appointment. Appointments are required and you must call ahead to make one. There are no walk-ins or same-day appointments, according to the website.

The appointment phone numbers for Oahu are the same as published in Kokua Line on Feb. 3, except that Susannah Wesley Community Center is no longer available; that location is closed for the season.

As we’ve previously reported, service from the AARP Foundation’s Tax-Aide program is limited this year, due to the pandemic. Furthermore, as also reported, Hawaii’s program was in flux after local appointment phone lines that had opened at the beginning of February were abruptly shut down until the national organization approved local operations. Most appointment lines are open again, but they are very busy.

“Given the demand and the limited appointments, people who can file their taxes online will be able to get their taxes done faster,” Gima said, referring readers to free tools available on the national website, taxaide.aarpfoundation.org.

The AARP Foundation’s Tax-Aide program is an annual service coordinated with the IRS to provide free federal and state income tax preparation for low- to moderate-income people, especially senior citizens.


Write to Kokua Line at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email kokualine@staradvertiser.com.


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