Tax returns for 2020 could look a bit different because of pandemic, experts say

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Tax documents for a most unusual year should be starting to appear in your mailbox and your email.

The good news is those stimulus checks many of us received are not taxable. Unfortunately, the federal government does tax unemployment checks and you will receive a Form 1099-G.

But local states will not tax unemployment benefits for 2020, according to Rosalind Sutch, a CPA and shareholder of Philadelphia accounting firm Drucker and Scaccetti.

Now, if you've spent most of last year working from home at the kitchen table, you may like your kitchen a lot more if you live in Pennsylvania and meet three requirements.

"Your job has to require you to have a suitable work area, which in 2020 was pretty much the case for most people. Your employer doesn't provide that suitable work area, again in 2020 that was a unique situation where a lot of people had a work area but wasn't suitable, and in a lot of instances you weren't allowed to be open.  And, then the home office has to be your principal place of work,” Sutch explained.

The federal government doesn't allow a home office deduction, and neither does New Jersey.

She said suburbanites who pay the Philadelphia wage tax but have been working from home during the pandemic can get the city wage tax back if their employer isn't going to send in a refund request for the entire office.

"If your employer is not going to send that on your behalf, you would have to send in a refund petition. You can request that refund from Philadelphia, they're going to have an online form for the first time this year and they'll still have the paper forms that were available in prior years,” she said.

Just make sure your employer didn't stop taking city wage tax out of your paychecks before you try to file for a refund.​