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Senate Workforce Committee

Jeff Green, deputy director of WorkForce West Virginia, speaks to the West Virginia Senate Workforce Committee on March 24. Green told the committee that West Virginia’s unemployment spiked in April 2020, when more than 115,000 West Virginians filed for unemployment benefits. West Virginians who used unemployment benefits in 2020 are eligible for a tax credit under state law.

West Virginians who already filed their taxes still can make use of a federal tax break through the American Rescue Plan Act.

In particular, West Virginians who received unemployment benefits in 2020 still can apply the tax credit provided by the plan, thanks to a law passed by the state Legislature.

Delegate Kayla Young, D-Kanawha, discussed how West Virginians could still use the tax credit on Twitter when a woman tweeted that she’d already filed her taxes but was eligible for the credit.

“Most people are going to get quite a bit of money back,” Young said in an interview Thursday. “I don’t think enough people know about it, but they need to know about it.”

The Legislature approved Senate Bill 693 on April 5, and Gov. Jim Justice signed the bill earlier this week.

Federal tax laws were updated when Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act on March 11, and the state Legislature adopted SB 693 to keep the state in compliance with federal tax laws and allow West Virginians who received unemployment benefits to take advantage of the credit for their state taxes as well as their federal taxes.

Under the American Rescue Plan, the latest COVID relief bill passed by Congress, the federal government won’t tax the first $10,200 in unemployment benefits a person was paid in 2020.

Under SB 693, the state likewise won’t tax someone’s first $10,200 in unemployment benefits.

To use the tax credit, West Virginians who received unemployment benefits will have to file an amended IT-140 form, which can be downloaded from the West Virginia Tax Department website.

West Virginians who have yet to file their taxes will be able to use the tax credit under the law when they do file their taxes.

Young noted that West Virginians who may have used a service like TurboTax or H&R Block to complete their taxes aren’t required by law or any contract to go back to those places to amend their taxes unless they felt like they needed the help.

“You can use the tax return you already submitted,” Young said. “Your income is still the same. You don’t have to go through those systems.”

Young has been referring people to the state Tax Department for more information.

West Virginia followed national trends in 2020 when unemployment skyrocketed amid business closures at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States.

There were a little more than 40,000 West Virginians who were unemployed in February and early March 2020, but that number ballooned to more than 119,000 unemployed West Virginians, Jeff Green, deputy director of WorkForce West Virginia, told the Senate Work Force Committee on March 24.

“April was absolutely the worst of it,” Green said. “Unemployment was at 15.6%, which is the highest we’ve seen in well over probably two decades or more. The total unemployed has decreased every month since then to today.”

As of February, there were more than 49,000 West Virginians who were unemployed, Green told the committee.

“A large number of people have gone back to work, but we still apparently have some more work to do,” Green told the committee.

The deadline to file taxes for 2020 income in West Virginia has been extended to match the deadline to file federal taxes this year. The deadline is May 17.

Reach Lacie Pierson at lacie.pierson@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-1723 or follow @laciepierson on Twitter.

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