2020 tax returns amended by IRS: Software and paper edits, refund checks

Courtesy of the newly enacted American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, the IRS needs to make a tiny edit to 2020 tax returns. If you’ve already filed your taxes this year, (here in 2021, for 2020,) the IRS will “provide a worksheet for paper filers” and will be working with tax software providers to “update current tax software” for the 2020 filing season here in 2021. This edit will very likely affect those who filed for unemployment benefits, and few others.

For unemployment amendments

The IRS sent a note on the 12th of March, 2021, about the newly enacted American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, with special emphasis on how individuals should NOT file amended returns at this time. “For those who received unemployment benefits last year and have already filed their 2020 tax return, the IRS emphasizes they should not file an amended return at this time, until the IRS issues additional guidance,” wrote an IRS representative.

The IRS made clear that digital filers and paper filers alike will be given “additional guidance on those provisions that could affect their 2020 tax return.” For those filing for unemployment, the most important bit here could very well be what an IRS representative described as “the retroactive provision that makes the first $10,200 of 2020 unemployment benefits nontaxable.”

Child Tax Credit

Similar changes and warnings appeared in digital note form from the IRS this week. Information about the expanded Child Tax Credit, including what the IRS described as “advance payments of the Child Tax Credit,” will be outlined on the IRS.gov website “as soon as possible.”

The IRS made very clear in a March 12, 2021 note that the organization “strongly urges taxpayers to not file amended returns related to the new legislative provisions or take other unnecessary steps at this time.”

Refund check, stimulus, no edit

It does not appear that any sort of amendments made by a taxpayer at this time would make any difference in the speed at which their refund check will arrive. The third refund check is largely based on last year’s return, anyway.

This appears to be universally applicable: If you’ve already filed taxes, you’re fine, just wait until you see a note from the IRS or your tax filing software. If you’ve yet to file, you might want to wait a few days for the final IRS changes to be made – in any case, you’ll still get what’s owed, so long as everything’s filed accurately when the time comes for you.