Unemployment & Direct Payments
COVID-19 is a healthcare crisis, but the ripple effects have caused economic uncertainty for many West Virginians. The CARES Act passed in March 2020, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act passed in December 2020, and the American Rescue Plan Act passed in March 2021 include targeted relief and a dramatic expansion and reform of the existing unemployment insurance program. We’ve strengthened unemployment benefits and ensured that laid-off workers receive the support they need.
EXPANDED UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
We must take care of those who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. As part of the American Rescue Plan, expanded unemployment insurance is available to unemployed West Virginians. Everyone receiving unemployment will receive $300 per week in addition to the amount regularly received. Other increased benefits include:
· Extension of Benefits: Recipients will be allowed to remain on unemployment through September 6, 2021.
· Waiver of One Week Waiting Period: The federal government and the State of West Virginia no longer require a one week waiting period for new beneficiaries, meaning that unemployed workers can receive benefits as soon as they become unemployed
You are eligible if you are unemployed or unable to work because:
· The individual’s place of work is closed as a direct result of COVID-19.
· The individual or a household member has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or the individual is experiencing symptoms of the virus and seeking a medical diagnosis.
· The individual is quarantined because he/she has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to the virus.
· The individual is caring for a member of the household or a family member that has been diagnosed with the virus or unable to attend a school of facility that is closed and the facility is necessary for the individual to be able to work.
· The individual was scheduled to start work and the job no longer exists or the individual is unable to reach the job because of a quarantine at the workplace;
· The individual is self-employed, is seeking part-time employment, does not have sufficient work history or would not otherwise qualify for regular unemployment under the State or Federal law.
Part-time, self-employed, independent contractors and gig economy workers will be eligible for unemployment.
An individual is not eligible for unemployment if:
· An individual has the ability to telework with pay; or
· An individual is receiving paid leave benefits
Taxes on Unemployment
All unemployment received, including the additional $300, will be taxable.
The amount of unemployment received will be disregarded in determining Medicaid or CHIP eligibility.
How to Apply for Unemployment
To submit an individual unemployment claim, please visit this link administered through the West Virginia Department of Commerce and Workforce West Virginia: https://uc.workforcewv.org/consumer/?lang=en
To contact any of the 18 unemployment claim offices around the state, follow this link to access appropriate contact information for your specific claim: https://uc.workforcewv.org/Contact.aspx
Questions about applying for unemployment in West Virginia can be directed to Workforce West Virginia by emailing Workforce.COVID19@wv.gov.
PANDEMIC UNEMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act created a new temporary federal program called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act extended PUA until March 14, 2021, and the American Rescue Plan Act extended PUA until September 6, 2021.
You may be eligible for PUA if you are self-employed, do not have sufficient work history to qualify for regular UC, or have exhausted your rights to regular UC benefits or extended benefits.
The American Rescue Plan increased the eligibility for assistance under PUA from 50 weeks of benefits to 79 weeks to covered individuals who are not eligible for regular UC and who are otherwise able and available to work except that they are unemployed, partially employed, or because of any one of the following COVID-19-related reasons:
• You have been diagnosed with or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and are seeking a medical diagnosis;
• A member of your household has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
• You are providing care for a family member or a member of your household who has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
• Your child or other person in the household for whom you are the primary caregiver is unable to attend school or another facility that is closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that school or facility care is required for you to work;
• You are unable to reach your place of employment because of a quarantine or stay-at-home order due to the COVID-19 pandemic;
• You are unable to reach your place of employment because you have been advised by a health care provider to self-isolate or quarantine because you are positive for or may have had exposure to someone who has or is suspected of having COVID-19;
• You were scheduled to start a new job and do not have an existing job or are unable to reach the job as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic;
• You have become the breadwinner/major supporter for a household because the head of your household has died as a direct result of COVID-19;
• You had to quit your job due to being diagnosed with COVID-19 and being unable to perform your work duties;
• Your place of employment is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
No individual will be eligible to receive PUA after September 6, 2021.
PANDEMIC EMERGENCY UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION
West Virginians who have exhausted their regular unemployment benefits and are eligible for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) can receive additional unemployment benefits for up to 24 weeks through March 14, 2021.
The additional weeks of benefits are provided through the Response and Relief Act and will be available to individuals who previously collected state or federal unemployment compensation but have exhausted those benefits.
Individuals eligible for PEUC benefits will receive the same amount of unemployment compensation he or she received in previous weeks in addition to the $300 in weekly Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC).
No individual will be eligible to receive FPUC after April 5, 2021.
To learn more about PEUC benefits, visit www.workforcewv.org/cares-act-questions.
DIRECT PAYMENTS TO WEST VIRGINIANS
On March 17, 2021, the IRS and the Treasury Department began delivering a third round of targeted Economic Impact Payments as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to millions of Americans, including 891,039 West Virginia households.
This third round of EIPs will be larger for most individuals compared to prior payments. Most families will get $1,400 per person, including for all the dependents claimed on their tax return. This means a single person with no dependents will get $1,400, while a family of four (married couple with two dependents) will get $5,600.
No action is needed by most taxpayers. The third round of payments will be based on the taxpayer’s latest processed tax return, from either 2019 or 2020. This includes anyone who successfully registered online at IRS.gov using the agency’s Non-Filers tool last year, or who submitted a special simplified tax return to the IRS.
If the IRS has received and processed a taxpayer’s 2020 tax return, the agency will make the calculation based on that return.
These payments – similar to the first and second round of EIPs – will be automatic, including for individuals who have not filed a tax return, but who receive Social Security retirement, survivor, disability (SSDI) benefits, Railroad Retirement benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Veterans Affairs benefits.
Who is eligible for the third Economic Impact Payment?
Generally if you are a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident, you are eligible for the full amount of the third EIP, so long as you (and your spouse, if filing a joint return) are not claimed as a dependent of another taxpayer and have a valid Social Security Number.
Individuals will qualify for the full third payment if they have an adjusted gross income of up to $75,000 for single filers and married persons filing separate returns, up to $112,500 for heads of household, and up to $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns and surviving spouses. Payment amounts are then reduced above those thresholds.
Joint filers where only one spouse has a SSN will normally get the third payment. Meaning, families will now get a payment covering any family member with a work-eligible SSN. For taxpayers who file jointly with their spouse and only one individual has a valid SSN, the spouse with a valid SSN will receive up to $1,400 and up to $1,400 for each qualifying dependent claimed on the 2020 tax return.
If either spouse is an active member of the U.S. Armed Forces at any time during the taxable year, only one spouse needs to have a valid SSN for the couple to receive up to $2,800 for themselves in the third EIP.
Who was eligible for the second Economic Impact Payment?
An individual is eligible for the full benefit if they make less than $75,000 per year. Couples and other joint filers are eligible if their combined annual income is less than $150,000. Above that threshold, benefits will be reduced by 5% for each additional dollar of income and phased out entirely for those making $87,000 or more ($174,000 for couples).
Any individual making $87,000 or more per year will not receive any direct payment. Any couple or other joint filers making $174,000 or more per year will not receive any direct payment. Furthermore, any child dependents that are 17 years old or any adult dependents will not be eligible for the $600 payment.
How can I check on the status of my payment?
You may check the status of your payment at IRS.gov/GetMyPayment.
Can those who do not normally file their taxes receive a check?
Yes. Individuals that receive form SSA-1099, which includes those that are receiving Old-Age, Survivor, and Disability (OASDI) benefits through Social Security, and individuals that receive form RRB-1099, which includes those that have worked in jobs covered by the Railroad Retirement Act, will be eligible for the stimulus check and will not be required to fill out any additional tax documents. For all others who do not normally file their taxes, including seniors and some veterans who do not normally file tax returns, they are also eligible to receive a check; however, in order to receive the stimulus payment, an individual that falls into one of these categories will need to file a simple tax return for 2020. The IRS has extended extended the 2020 tax filing deadline from April 15, 2021 to May 17, 2021.
Will SSA administer the funds to my EBT/Debit card that I receive my SSA benefits through?
Our understanding is that IRS is sending out the rebates (via direct deposit or checks).
Will I be eligible for a stimulus payment if I have not yet filed my 2020 tax return?
The U.S. Treasury will use 2019 tax returns to determine a person’s eligibility to receive a stimulus payment. If the IRS has received and processed a taxpayer’s 2020 tax return, the agency will make the calculation based on that return.
How does an individual claim their check?
They do not need to claim their checks (unless they have not filed a tax return for 2019 or 2020) – IRS will send out rebates automatically to their direct deposit or to the address provided on the last tax return submitted.
How long will it take for this check to be delivered?
The IRS has already started sending out the third round of the Economic Impact Payment (EIP). Additional batches of the direct payments will be sent via direct deposit in the coming weeks, as well as through the mail as a check or debit card.
Social Security and other federal benefit recipients will generally receive these payments the same way as they get their regular benefits. A payment date for this group of individuals will be announced shortly.
I never received my first and/or second Economic Impact Payments. How can I claim them?
If you didn't get the full amount of the first or second payment you were eligible for, you may be eligible to claim the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit and must file a 2020 tax return even if you aren't required to file. The third payment will not be used to calculate the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit.
Will I be taxed on this check?
No, rebates are not taxable.
Will I be eligible if I haven’t finished filing my 2019 taxes?
Yes. The IRS urges anyone with a tax filing obligation and who has not yet filed a tax return for 2019 to file as soon as they can in order to receive a stimulus payment. If possible, the IRS encourages individuals to include direct deposit information on their return.
Will I be eligible for a third round payment if I was not required to file a tax return in 2019 or 2020?
For individuals who did not file a 2019 or 2020 tax return and did not register with the IRS.gov non-filers tool last year, they are still eligible for the payment so long as they meet the eligibility requirements. While they will not get the payment automatically, they can still receive all three EIPs. IRS directs these individuals to file a 2020 tax return and claim the Recovery Rebate Credit.
What is the deadline to file my 2020 tax return?
On March 17, 2021, the Treasury Department and the IRS announced that the tax filing deadline for individuals for the 2020 tax year would be automatically extended from April 15, 2021 to May 17, 2021. Individuals do not need to file any forms or call the IRS to receive the extension. There are no penalties or interest tied to the deadline extension, regardless of the total amount owed. However, penalties, interest and additions to tax will be added on to any unpaid balances as of May 17, 2021.
- IRS is encouraging taxpayers to file as soon as possible, especially if taxpayers are expecting a refund.
- Individuals who need additional time to file beyond the May 17 deadline can request a filing extension until October 15 by filing Form 4868 through a variety of methods, including through their tax professional, tax software, or the Free File link on IRS.gov.
- As a reminder, that if an individual requests an extension until October 15, it is an extension of filing their return, but not an extension of time to pay taxes due.
- The extended deadline does not apply to estimated tax payments, which are still due on April 15, 2021. In general, estimated tax payments are made quarterly to the IRS by people whose income isn’t subject to income tax withholding, including self-employment income, interest, dividends, alimony, or rental income.
The West Virginia Tax Department will extend the West Virginia income tax filing and payment deadline until Monday, May 17, 2021, to correspond with the federal government’s recent tax filing extension to the same date.
- Individual taxpayers do not need to file any forms or call the West Virginia Tax Department to qualify for this extension.
- This relief does not apply to estimated tax payments that are due on April 15, 2021. These payments are still due on April 15. Taxes must be paid as taxpayers earn or receive income during the year, either through withholding or estimated tax payments. In general, estimated tax payments are made quarterly to the West Virginia Tax Department by people whose income isn’t subject to income tax withholding, including self-employment income, interest, dividends, alimony, or rental income. Most taxpayers automatically have their taxes withheld from their paychecks and submitted to the West Virginia Tax Department by their employer.
- More information will be available on the West Virginia Tax Department’s website.
Will I be eligible if I have a lien against me, but I am in non-collect status?
Yes. Rebates will not be subject to garnishment, even in instances where back child support is owed.
I withdrew from my retirement account in 2019- so my income that year was inflated. Is there any waiver for one time sources of income?
As of now, no waiver has been included for one time sources of income. If the IRS has received and processed a taxpayer’s 2020 tax return, the agency will make the calculation based on that return.
Where can I get more information?
For more information about Economic Impact Payments and the 2020 Recovery Rebate, key information will be posted on IRS.gov/eip. You may check the status of your payment at IRS.gov/GetMyPayment. For other COVID-19-related tax relief, visit IRS.gov/Coronavirus.
What if I still need assistance receiving my first or second Economic Impact Payment?
Contact my office at 304-342-5855 or request help through my website. A member of my staff will be happy to assist you.
Apply For Unemployment (WorkForce West Virginia): https://uc.workforcewv.org/consumer/?lang=en
IRS Economic Impact Payment Information Center: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payments
** As we receive further information, we will continue to update this page.
Updated March 22, 2021