COVID-19's impact on 2021 tax season

Posted at 11:14 PM, Jan 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-26 23:14:15-05

LEE COUNTY, FLA — If you live in Fort Myers, there's a good chance you've heard of the "tax lady."

"A lot of people don't know my name," said Victoria Graham.

Her real name is Victoria Graham and she's been helping folks stay on track with the IRS for 30 years.

As we approach the start of a delayed tax season, she says it's a hard thing to imagine, especially considering the last one never really stopped.

"This is the tax season that never ended. Since last year. We are still doing taxes from 2019," she said.

While she doesn't think that we'll see the filing deadline extended like we did last year, it's clear the IRS is still playing catch up.

She says stimulus checks will likely be a major source of confusion, especially if you had a major life change last year.

"Those individuals that were maybe single before and now they're married and so their stimulus has changed and those that didn't have children that now have children that didn't get a stimulus for it," she said.

She says if you're in that boat, file as early as possible.

But if you're still waiting on a stimulus check, you'll want to wait and file at or after the February start date.

If you file early...And claim you didn't get it and then get your stimulus check while waiting for your return, you'll have to pay it back.

"They're gonna end up with a liability, so now they're gonna owe the government," she said.

Did you start working home in 2020? If so, did you buy any "office supplies?" If you're looking for a tax write-off, Graham says you're likely out of luck, that is, unless you work for yourself.

"There has not been any real discussion as far as working from home because technically you are still an employee," she said.

Then there's the matter of unemployment If you lost your job last year, you may still get a refund.

"They are able to take a look back to 2019 and they'll ask you on your return 'Did you make more money last year? Did you earn more money in 2019 than you did in 2020?'"

But Graham says you'll need to make sure you have a 1099-G form to show proof of any unemployment benefits you got.

And above all else, she offers this advice to everyone.

"Be patient, we'll get through this. Everyone is going through it you're not alone," she said.

She adds that this is also the year to choose your tax preparer carefully.

She says after a year where many are struggling financially, there will be more opportunities for people to be taken advantage of.