The 2009 stimulus bill extends the period of time that workers who have lost their jobs can collect unemployment benefits.
While unemployment benefits normally run for 26 weeks—or until you get a new job—the new law extends jobless pay by as many as 33 weeks, for a total of as long as 59 weeks of coverage.
- The full 33-week extension applies in states with unemployment rates over 6.5%.
- Check with your state unemployment office to learn how long benefits run in your state.
You don’t have to make any special application for the increased $25-per-week benefit. The money should automatically be added to your checks. Although states set their own rules for the amounts that jobless workers receive, the weekly $25 boost applies in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Some benefits no longer taxed
In addition, the new law makes up to $2,400 of unemployment benefits tax-free. Previously, all unemployment was subject to taxes. The new break does not apply to jobless pay received in 2008, though.
- If you received unemployment compensation in 2008, your state should have sent you a Form 1099-G showing the amount paid.
- You should report that amount on your 2008 tax return.
Note: The decision to make jobless pay tax-free applies only to your federal income taxes.
If you're unemployed, you could qualify for an important new break that helps pay the cost of keeping your health insurance. See Health Insurance Assistance for Unemployed.
TurboTax is here to help with our Unemployment Benefits Center. Learn more about unemployment benefits, insurance, eligibility and get your tax and financial questions answered.
By TurboTax Tax Experts