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Who gets paid first when refunds on $10,200 unemployment benefits get sent out?

Millions of Americans who filed their 2020 taxes before the COVID relief bill was passed are due money if they collected unemployment last year.

The Internal Revenue Service is set to begin sending refunds this month for taxed unemployment benefits stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. The first Americans that should expect to see payments are those who filed tax returns for singles or for those who are married but filed separately.

Who are getting these refunds? Americans who took unemployment in 2020, but filed their taxes before passage of the American Rescue Plan on March 11. The bill forgives taxes on the first $10,200 for individuals, including those who are married but file taxes separately. It forgives $20,400 for couples filing jointly. The forgiveness is for taxpayers who earned less than $150,000.

Tax filing season had been open for about a month when the the relief bill passed. But by then, millions of taxpayers had already filed their returns, which included taxes on those jobless benefits.

The IRS said in a March 31 statement that it will recalculate the returns in two phases. The first phase will be for those eligible for the $10,200 exclusion. Then it will adjust returns for those married but who filed jointly and are eligible for the $20,400 exclusion. The second phase will also look at people with more complex tax returns.

Those who already filed their returns do not need to file an amended return, the IRS said, unless the recalculations lead to the taxpayer qualifying for additional federal credits or deductions.

The IRS said in March the payments would start going out in May and continue through the summer, but did not give a specific date on when they would begin.

Taxpayers are also advised to look at their state returns to see if they are eligible for refunds there, too.

Most Americans who filed after passage of the bill likely already have received the forgiven amount.