VENICE, Fla. — When the coronavirus pandemic first hit, and the United States essentially shut down, Florida's crashing unemployment system was under the microscope day in and day out.
Since the Spring of 2020, 10 Tampa Bay has covered countless stories relating to Florida's failing unemployment system.
After many state and federal lawmakers started calling for investigations to figure out why the system was crashing on so many levels, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he too would ask the Chief Inspector General to investigate how the CONNECT system was paid for, the amendments to the contract, along with other issues.
At the time, DeSantis said, "I don’t get involved in the blaming. My job is to fix problems so when things present, I’ve got to figure out a way to fix it. We’ve worked hard, we’ve made progress. We have more progress to make."
Since then, many Floridians are back to work including restaurant servers, hairstylists, and small business owners. But, in many cases, the unemployment headaches persist.
Peter Hermann was working as a cashier at Winn Dixie in Venice, Florida when the pandemic hit in March of 2020. At 70-years-old with heart issues and diabetes, he decided to listen to medical experts and go on leave.
"I loved the job. I was putting in quite a few hours a week part-time and it was really rewarding, and having to stop going to work was difficult to do and of course, I lost my income. It was a challenging time," said Hermann.
After fighting to get unemployment benefits for months, Hermann finally started getting his payments from the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO). He was issued $70 a week but Hermann says in December of 2020, the DEO sent him a bill for $1,400.
"They disqualified me from unemployment and sent me a bill for the money they had sent me in terms of benefits," said Hermann, who tried to dispute the disqualification.
He said the DEO determined he wasn't eligible because he never provided a doctor's note and "self-diagnosed" himself. Hermann now owes the state of Florida.
"I’ll call them and work on a repayment plan, but I can’t afford $1,400, and it’s ridiculous for the state to hand out my unemployment benefits to me over the period of months and then send me a lump sum at the end of the year," he said.
Hermann's not sure what to do next but he was busy preparing his tax documents when 10 Tampa Bay talked to him Tuesday.
Hermann says the Florida DEO did not provide him a 1099-G form so he's going to have to move forward without it.
10 Tampa Bay reached out to the DEO about Peter Hermann's situation. We haven't heard back yet.
MISSING OR INCORRECT TAX DOCUMENTS
Many claimants who filed for unemployment at some point in 2020 are reporting problems trying to obtain the necessary 1099-G form from the DEO.
Claimants have created Facebook groups where they can compare notes and try to help one another find solutions. Many posts refer to incorrect 1099-G forms with either too little or too much income documented on the form.
A spokesperson with the DEO said, "The Department completed electronically processing 1099-G Tax Forms for all claimants on January 17, 2021. All claimants should have access to their 1099-G Tax Form in their CONNECT account. Claimants who opted to receive communication from the Department through U.S. Mail should have received their 1099-G Tax Form no later than January 31, 2021."
Enable pop-ups in browser: When viewing your 1099-G Tax Form in CONNECT, be sure to enable pop-ups on your web browser. Pop-up blockers restrict you from viewing your 1099-G Tax Forms and other important documents from the Department.
Fill out the form: If a claimant did not receive their 1099-G Tax Form, they received a 1099-G Tax Form by mistake, their 1099-G Tax Form is incorrect, or they cannot access their 1099-G Tax Form, visit: 1099grequest.myflorida.com
Consider filing for an extension: If you can't get your situation fixed with the Department of Economic Opportunity by the tax deadline, Florida Tax Attorney, Ronald Cutler, P.A. says you might want to file for an extension so you can get the issue sorted out with the DEO.
Claim the estimated correct amount: If you're unable to get the 1099-G form corrected through the DEO before the tax deadline, as a last resort, tax attorney Seth Cohen advised claiming what you think the correct amount is on your tax return with a disclaimer that it might need to be amended at a later time.
Incorrect Form 1099-G for unemployment benefits
Millions of Americans received unemployment compensation in 2020, many of them for the first time. This compensation is taxable and must be included as gross income on their tax return.
Taxpayers who receive an incorrect Form 1099-G for unemployment benefits they did not receive should contact the issuing state agency to request a revised Form 1099-G showing they did not receive these benefits. Taxpayers who are unable to obtain a timely, corrected form from states should still file an accurate tax return, reporting only the income they received.
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