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Firecat897
New Member

How to handle state tax refunds from prior tax years

I filed my 2017, 2018, and 2019 taxes all in 2020; and I got refunds for all three years from my state.  Since I did itemize, the refund is taxable, right?   TT wants me to input my "total of all your payments and withholding" for each separate 1099-G I received from the state for each tax year.  What does this mean when there are refunds for multiple tax years received in one later tax year?  Do they just want my withholding from my W-2 that corresponds to the tax year for the refund, or am I supposed to add up all of my withholding from all of those years?  What is the idea behind the question?  If I knew the rationale, I may start to understand the question.  Thanks!

22 Replies
DawnC
Employee Tax Expert

How to handle state tax refunds from prior tax years

Even when your refund is taxable, it may not be the entire amount. It depends on how much the deduction affected your refund or tax bill.   So, those questions are determining how much, if any, tax benefits you received for claiming the state income tax deduction (instead of the sales tax or standard deduction). 

 

A general rule of thumb: If you didn’t deduct state and local income taxes last year, you don’t need to pay taxes on your state and local tax refund this year.  For instance, if you didn’t itemize your deductions last year and instead you took the standard deduction, then your state tax refund from the previous year is tax-free this year.

 

Sales Tax Deducted, But Not State Income Tax?

There’s an important note to consider in regards to sales tax versus state and local income tax. On last year’s return, if you itemized your deductions and were able to deduct your sales tax and not your state and local income taxes, then your previous year’s state refund is not taxable when you file this year.

 

If you deducted your state and local income taxes last year and also received a state refund last year, then your state tax refund that you received from the previous year may be taxable.   

 

Whether or not your state income tax refund is taxable on your federal income tax return depends on whether you took an itemized deduction (Schedule A (Form 1040)) for the tax that was later refunded.  TurboTax is using your answers to those withholding questions to figure this amount......

  • Don't report any of the refund as income if you didn’t itemize your deductions on your federal tax return for the tax year that generated the refund.
  • If you took an itemized deduction in an earlier year for taxes paid that were later refunded, you may have to include all or part of the refund as income on your tax return. Use Worksheet 2, Recoveries of Itemized Deductions in Publication 525, Taxable and Nontaxable Income to determine the taxable amount of your state or local refunds to report on your tax return.
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Firecat897
New Member

How to handle state tax refunds from prior tax years

HI, this info didn't help because it didn't answer my question.  I have no worries about sales tax.  I was asking a question about state and federal tax refunds over multiple years.

MaryM428
Level 10

How to handle state tax refunds from prior tax years

Since you filed all of the returns in 2020 and received the refunds in 2020, you will put all of the refunds received in 2020 into your 2020 tax return.

 

If the state sent three separate 1099-G forms, then report all three.  If they were combined on one 1099-G form, then just enter that form.

 

Here are the steps to enter 1099-G

 

  • Federal
  • Wages and Income
  • Other Common Income
  • Refunds Received for State/Local Tax Returns
  • Input your 1099-G from your state.  If needed, add another State or Local tax refund until all have been entered..

When is state or local refund taxable?




@Firecat897

onemoment
Level 3

How to handle state tax refunds from prior tax years

Hello,

 

I had the same question about the 2019 state refund. I used Turbox tax to efile 2019 tax return and working on the 2020 return.  I imported the 2019 tax file to the 2020 software. Will the state refund be automatically carried over ( as I read it in another post, but I did not see it in the turbotax), so I manually entered as your instruction. Just want to make sure not to have a duplicate.

 

thanks

 

NashayLO
Intuit Alumni

How to handle state tax refunds from prior tax years

Once you transfer over your tax information, Yes, it should transfer over. You can double-check, by going through your state tax return, and it will already be in there, when asked if you received a refund last year.

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StarGirl18
Level 3

How to handle state tax refunds from prior tax years

I amended 2019 state tax and received a refund in 2021, Turbo Tax "did not ask me if I itemized taxes" for that prior year, which I did and used Turbo Tax.  I also received a state refund for 2020 in 2021, and that one Turbo Tax did ask me if I itemized my Fed return last year, so they included my prior tax 2019 refund as additional income on Schedule 1, isn't that wrong?  I used premium Turbo Tax for both years. 

DianeW777
Employee Tax Expert

How to handle state tax refunds from prior tax years

It depends.  The amount of the refund that is at least the difference between the standard deduction and your itemized deductions would be taxable in 2021.  Any refund of state tax for a prior year, received in the current tax year (2021) that was used as an itemized deduction would be included in taxable income.

 

TurboTax does not ask if you itemized on the federal return when the refund is for a year earlier than the immediate prior year (2020 for tax year 2021).

 

TurboTax Online is asking the customer to enter the amount that is taxable in 2021 as shown in the image below.  If you left that blank or put in a zero then TurboTax will not carry that refund to the tax return as part of your taxable income. 

StarGirl18
Level 3

How to handle state tax refunds from prior tax years

Hello Dianne,

You must have a different Turbo Tax than I do because it doesn't ask me for prior years.  Just for 2020.  The amended State return "refund" was the result of an amended 2019 Fed return (change on Schedule 1), which then changed my AGI.  So I am at lost whether to include it or not?  But thanks for your feedback.

DianeW777
Employee Tax Expert

How to handle state tax refunds from prior tax years

When you enter the state tax refund, there is a drop down for you to select the tax year.  If tax year 2019 is selected you will see the screen image above.  I have provided the earlier screen for you to review and hope this is more clear.

@StarGirl18

[Edited: 03/03/2022 | 12:39 PST]

StarGirl18
Level 3

How to handle state tax refunds from prior tax years

Sorry Diane, I should had made my myself more clear.  I meant to write it doesn't ask me if you itemized in 2019, which would decide if I should include that refund as income, I assume.

ThomasM125
Employee Tax Expert

How to handle state tax refunds from prior tax years

I'm not sure why you weren't asked about your refund from 2019, but you should include the refund as taxable income in the year you receive it if you deducted your state income taxes that includes the refund in a previous year.

 

@StarGirl18 

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StarGirl18
Level 3

How to handle state tax refunds from prior tax years

Sorry Mark can you explain your answer better "deducted your state income taxes that includes the refund in a previous year.  I received a state refund after amending the 2019 fed and state return.

StarGirl18
Level 3

How to handle state tax refunds from prior tax years

Are you saying if I itemized my 2019 Fed return?  The answer is no.  Is that what you are stating?

ThomasM125
Employee Tax Expert

How to handle state tax refunds from prior tax years

If you didn't itemize your deductions on your 2019 tax return, then the state tax refund from that year would not be taxable or includible on future tax returns.

 

@StarGirl18

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