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Tax deadline extended, but some moves still need to be made by April 15, CPAs say

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Lynne M. Fuentes, managing partner of Fuentes & Angel CPAs LLC and vice president of the New York State Society of CPAs, and Robert N. Brown, president of the Nassau Suffolk Chapter of the National Conference of CPA Practitioners, answer readers' questions about filing their 2020 tax returns. 

Even though the deadline to file tax returns has been extended to May 17, Long Islanders should still prepare now, two local CPAs said Thursday.

The extension, announced last week by the Internal Revenue Service and New York State, applies only to individual filers, said certified public accountant Lynne M. Fuentes, managing partner of Fuentes & Angel CPAs in Jericho and vice president of the New York State Society of CPAs. "Businesses, estates and trusts are not extended," she said.

And while your tax return and any payment you owe won't be due until May 17, individuals who make estimated tax payments must still make that payment by April 15, Fuentes said.

In addition, the deadline for certain tax-saving moves has not been extended, said certified public accountant Robert N. Brown, president of the Nassau Suffolk Chapter of the National Conference of CPA Practitioners. If you plan to make a contribution to an Individual Retirement Account or a Health Savings Account, those must still be made by April 15, he said.

Fuentes and Brown answered tax questions Thursday during a NewsdayLive webinar moderated by Newsday reporter Daysi Calavia-Robertson.

The pandemic has created a host of new tax questions as it has forced many Long Islanders to seek unemployment benefits, and pushed others to work from home.

Unemployment benefits are taxable, but how much depends on the earner's income, Brown said. Under the new federal stimulus package, "the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits for those earning less than $150,000 is not taxable for federal purposes," he said. New York state has not made a decision yet on whether to extend the same rule for state income taxes.

As for remote workers who are hoping to claim a deduction for a home office, many will be out of luck.

The deduction depends on the employment status of the filer, Brown said.

"If you are self-employed and you have an area of your home that you use regularly and exclusively as an office, yes, you can claim a home office deduction. But for all these people who are employees who have been working from home, you’re not eligible," he said.

There is some good news for those who received stimulus payments. They are not taxable, Fuentes said.

And for those who were eligible for the $1,200 and $600 stimulus payments distributed in 2020 but did not receive them, they can use their 2020 return to claim them by filing for a Recovery Rebate Credit.

To watch the webinar, go to newsdaylive.com.

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