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e-CFR data is current as of August 5, 2020

Title 26Chapter ISubchapter APart 1 → §1.85-1


Title 26: Internal Revenue
PART 1—INCOME TAXES (CONTINUED)


§1.85-1   Unemployment compensation.

(a) Introduction. Section 85 prescribes rules relating to the inclusion in gross income of unemployment compensation (as defined in paragraph (b)(1) of this section) paid in taxable years beginning after December 31, 1978, pursuant to governmental programs. In general, these rules provide that unemployment compensation paid pursuant to governmental programs is includible in the gross income of a taxpayer if the taxpayer's modified adjusted gross income (as defined in paragraph (b)(2) of this section) exceeds a statutory base amount (as defined in paragraph (b)(3) of this section). If there is such an excess, however, the amount included in gross income is limited under paragraph (c)(1) of this section to the lesser of one-half of such excess or the amount of the unemployment compensation. If such taxpayer's modified adjusted gross income does not exceed the applicable statutory base amount, none of the unemployment compensation is included in the taxpayer's gross income.

(b) Definitions—(1) Unemployment compensation—(i) General rule. Except as provided in paragraph (b)(1)(iii) of this section, the term “unemployment compensation” means any amount received under a law of the United States, or of a State, which is in the nature of unemployment compensation. Thus, section 85 applies only to unemployment compensation paid pursuant to governmental programs and does not apply to amounts paid pursuant to private nongovernmental unemployment compensation plans (which are includible in income without regard to section 85). Generally, unemployment compensation programs are those designed to protect taxpayers against the loss of income caused by involuntary layoff. Ordinarily, unemployment compensation is paid in cash and on a periodic basis. The amount of the payments is usually computed in accordance with formula based on the taxpayer's length of prior employment and wages. Such payments, however, may be made in a lump sum or other than in cash or on some other basis.

(ii) Disability and worker's compensation payments. Amounts in the nature of unemployment compensation also include cash disability payments made pursuant to a governmental program as a substitute for case unemployment payments to an unemployed taxpayer who is ineligible for such payments solely because of the disability. Usually these disability payments are paid in the same weekly amount and for the same period as the unemployment compensation benefits to which the unemployed taxpayer otherwise would have been entitled. Amounts received under workmen's compensation acts as compensation for personal injuries or sickness are not amounts in the nature of unemployment compensation. See section 104(a)(1) relating to the exclusion from gross income of such amounts.

(iii) Employee contributions to a governmental plan. If a governmental unemployment compensation program is funded in part by an employee's contribution which is not deductible by the employee, an amount paid to such employee under the program is not to be considered unemployment compensation until an amount equal to the total nondeductible contributions paid by the employee to such program has been paid to such employee.

(iv) Examples of governmental unemployment compensation programs. Governmental unemployment compensation programs include (but are not limited to) programs established under:

(A) A State law approved by the Secretary of Labor pursuant to section 3304 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954.

(B) Chapter 85 of title 5, United States Code, relating to unemployment compensation for Federal employees generally and for ex-servicemen.

(C) Trade Act of 1974, sections 231 and 232 (19 U.S.C. 2291 and 2292).

(D) Disaster Relief Act of 1974, section 407 (42 U.S.C. 5177).

(E) The Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 (49 U.S.C. 1552(b)).

(F) The Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act, section 2 (45 U.S.C. 352).

(2) Modified adjusted gross income. The term “modified adjusted gross income” means the sum of the following amounts:

(i) Adjusted gross income (as defined in section 62);

(ii) All disability payments of the type that are eligible for exclusion from gross income under section 105(d); and

(iii) All amounts of unemployment compensation (as defined in paragraph (b)(1) of this section).

(3) Base amount. The term “base amount” means—

(i) $25,000 in the case of a joint return under section 6013.

(ii) Zero in the case of a taxpayer who—

(A) Is married (within the meaning of section 143) at the close of the taxable year,

(B) Does not file a joint return for such taxable year, and

(C) Does not live apart (as defined in paragraph (b)(4) of this section) from his or her spouse at all times during the taxable year.

(iii) $20,000 in the case of all other taxpayers.

(4) Living apart. A taxpayer does not “live apart” from his or her spouse at all times during a taxable year if for any period during the taxable year the taxpayer is a member of the same household as such taxpayer's spouse. A taxpayer is a member of a household for any period, including temporary absences due to special circumstances, during which the household is the taxpayer's place of abode. A temporary absence due to special circumstances includes a nonpermanent absence caused by illness, education, business, vacation, or military service.

(c) Limitations—(1) General rule. If for a taxable year, a taxpayer's modified adjusted gross income does not exceed the applicable statutory base amount, no amount of unemployment compensation is included in gross income for the taxable year. If there is such an excess, the taxpayer includes in gross income for the taxable year the lesser of the following:

(i) One-half of the excess of the taxpayer's modified adjusted gross income over such taxpayer's base amount, or

(ii) The amount of unemployment compensation.

(2) Exception for fraudulently received unemployment compensation. If a taxpayer fraudulently receives unemployment compensation under any governmental unemployment compensation program, then the entire amount of such fraudulently received unemployment compensation must be included in the taxpayer's gross income for the taxable year in which the benefits were received. Thus, the limitation in section 85 and in paragraph (c)(1) of this section, does not apply to such amounts.

(3) Examples. The application of this paragraph may be illustrated by the following examples:

Example 1. H and W are married taxpayers who for calendar year 1979 file a joint income tax return. During 1979 H receives $4,500 of disability income that is eligible for an exclusion under section 105(d). W works for part of 1979 and receives $20,000 as compensation and also receives $5,000 of unemployment compensation in 1979. Assume that H and W's adjusted gross income is $20,000. The modified adjusted gross income of H and W is $29,500 ($4,500 + $20,000 + $5,000). Since their modified adjusted gross income ($29,500) is greater than their base amount ($25,000), some of the unemployment compensation received by W must be included in their gross income on their 1979 joint income tax return. Under paragraph (c)(1) of this section, of the $5,000 which is unemployment compensation, the lesser of $2,250 (($29,500—$25,000) ÷ 2) or $5,000 must be included in their gross income. Thus, $2,250 of the $5,000 received by W in 1979 is included in the gross income of H and W on their joint income tax return for 1979.

Example 2. Assume the same facts in example (1) except H received $5,000 of disability income that is eligible for an exclusion under section 105(d) and W receives $28,000 as compensation, and $4,000 which is unemployment compensation. Assume that H and W's adjusted gross income is $28,000. The modified adjusted gross income of H and W is $37,000 ($4,000 + $28,000 + $5,000). Since their modified adjusted gross income ($37,000) is greater than their base amount ($25,000), all of the unemployment compensation received by W must be included in their gross income on their 1979 joint income tax return. Under paragraph (c)(1) of this section, of the $4,000 which is unemployment compensation, the lesser of $6,000 (($37,000—$25,000) ÷ 2) or $4,000 must be included in their gross income. Thus, all of the $4,000 unemployment compensation received by W is included in the gross income of H and W on their joint income tax return for 1979.

(d) Cross reference. See section 6050B, relating to the requirement that every person who makes payments of unemployment compensation aggregating $10 or more to any individual during any calendar year file an information return with the Internal Revenue Service.

[T.D. 7705, 45 FR 46069, July 9, 1980]

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