[ The Money Side of Lifeā„¢ ]

Tampered & Taxed

By brass Staff on October 31st, 2010 •
Tax Tip

Q: Do I have to include unemployment benefits as income for federal taxes?

A: Unemployment benefits are considered earned income, are fully taxable and must be reported come tax season. Here's what you need to know.

  • The IRS does not require taxes to be withheld from weekly unemployment benefits. This differs from a normal paycheck where taxes are generally automatically withheld by your employer.
  • However, you can request to have 10% withheld for federal income tax from weekly benefits checks to avoid a large tax bill at the end of the year. Refer to Form W-4V at irs.gov.
  • At the beginning of the year, you'll receive a Form 1099-G in the mail, which shows total benefits paid and taxes withheld in the previous year. This will be filed with your other tax forms.

If you have questions, check the form instructions, call the IRS for assistance (1-800-829-1040) or visit www.irs.gov/localcontacts.

Mail Mishap

Q: What should I do if I suspect my mail has been stolen or tampered with?

A: Mail theft and tampering are federal crimes. If you suspect that someone is messing with your mail, follow these steps to clear up the situation:

  • Report mail theft or tampering to the local postmaster. Find yours at usps.com/postmasterfinder.
  • File a complaint with the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS). Access complaint forms at postalinspectors.uspis.gov under the "Consumer Awareness" tab or call 1-877-876-2455. Information submitted to the USPIS is passed onto Postal Inspectors, who in turn investigate based on the "number, substance and pattern of complaints," according to the USPIS website.

To protect your mail, pick it up as soon as possible and ask the post office to hold it when you're out of town. Also consider registering for a PO Box. Rates start at $12 for six months.

Editor's Note: When answering your questions, the editors consult with experienced professionals from a wide spectrum of industries. We utilize their expertise to give you the answers you need, but it's always wise to seek additional opinions from other professionals.

Sources: wa.gov; irs.gov; mass.gov; usps.com