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San Antonio tax help lawyerDo you owe 2020 income taxes even though the IRS is now not taxing the first $10,200 of unemployment income? What to do and not to do.

Last week we discussed the extent to which unemployment income is not taxed because of the American Rescue Plan Act. Generally, you don’t pay federal (and possibly state) income tax on the first $10,200 in benefits you received in 2020. Section 9042(a) of the Act. (See our last blog post about qualifying for this, and other details.)

Let’s get into two significant practical problems you may still have in spite of this substantial benefit:

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TX bankrutpcy lawyerMany people who are struggling with overwhelming debt often hesitate to file for bankruptcy because they are concerned that the bankruptcy will have a significant impact on their credit score for a number of years. They worry that the bankruptcy will prohibit them from ever owning their own home someday. While it is true that bankruptcy will show up on a person’s credit report, it is important to keep in mind that consistently having late payments, missed payments, and charged-off accounts hurt a person’s credit score and their chance at owning a home more than filing bankruptcy will. As long as the person who files for bankruptcy follows these tips, homeownership is likely closer than they think.

Review Your Credit Report

Once your bankruptcy has been complete and debt discharged, you will want to obtain a copy of your credit report to make sure that there are no incorrect debts that should have been discharged showing up. The major credit reporting agencies are required by the federal government to provide people with a free credit report once a year. If you see any discrepancies, make sure to contact your bankruptcy attorney.

Rebuild Credit

Once all your debt has been discharged through bankruptcy, it is important to focus on rebuilding your credit. Remember, your credit was not damaged overnight and it will take time to rebuild.

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Posted on in Income Taxes

San Antonio bankruptcy attorney

If you are among the one in four Americans who received unemployment benefits during the pandemic, the IRS is not taxing the first $10,200 of it. 

Unemployment Benefits Are Generally Taxable

As the IRS states plainly, “[i]f you received unemployment compensation during the year, you must include it in gross income.” Unemployment Compensation, IRS Topic No. 418. Furthermore, “unemployment compensation” explicitly includes not just the usual “state unemployment insurance benefits.” It also includes “Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation provided under the . . . CARES Act of 2020.” Unemployment Compensation.

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Schertz banruptcy attorney

Paying your stimulus money to various combinations of creditors, in the hopes of avoiding bankruptcy or before a planned one, is dangerous.

Before You Make Decisions That Hurt You

Last week we introduced the radical idea that the best use of your upcoming or already received $1,400 stimulus payment might be to pay for a bankruptcy case. We focused then on how to figure out when you should throw in the towel and decide to file bankruptcy. One clue is if you find yourself making questionable decisions. That can mean that you are starting to feel desperate. Then the bad decisions can turn your situation even worse.

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TX bankruptcy lawyerWhen most people think of student loan debt, they usually picture someone who has recently graduated from college within the past few years, who, along with that diploma they earned, now owes thousands and thousands of dollars in student loans. Many young adults can be so overwhelmed with student debt, with threats of wage garnishments and other heavy-handed collection tactics, that they are unable to pay their other bills. Quite often, the only option they have to get out from all that debt is to file bankruptcy. Although student loans cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, other debts can, and this may free enough income for them to be able to afford their monthly student loan payments.

But it is not just young adults who are being buried with student loan debt. More and more older people, including the elderly, are struggling with it. It is estimated that approximately seven million Americans over the age of 50 have student loan debt.

Can the Department of Education Seize Social Security Benefits?

Not only can the Department of Education seize tax returns and wages of people who are delinquent in student loans, but they can also withhold money from a person’s Social Security check. Social Security disability checks can also be garnished.

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