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They are included in gross income, but not earned income.
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Topic 418 - Unemployment Compensation
Unemployment compensation is includible in gross income. You must report unemployment compensation on line 19 of Form 1040, line 13 of Form 1040A, or line 3 of Form 1040EZ.
Unemployment compensation generally includes any amounts received under the unemployment compensation laws of the United States or of a state. It includes state unemployment insurance benefits and benefits paid to you by a state or the District of Columbia from the Federal Unemployment Trust Fund. It also includes railroad unemployment compensation benefits, disability benefits paid as a substitute for unemployment compensation, trade readjustment allowances under the Trade Act of 1974, and unemployment assistance under the Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act of 1974. Unemployment compensation does not include worker's compensation.
If you received unemployment compensation during the year, you should receive Form 1099-G (PDF) showing the amount you were paid. Any unemployment compensation received during the year must be included in your income, unless you contributed to the fund. See Below.
If you received unemployment compensation, you may be required to make quarterly estimated tax payments. However, you can choose to have federal income tax withheld. For more information, refer to Form W-4V (PDF), Voluntary Withholding Request.
Supplemental unemployment benefits received from a company financed fund are not considered unemployment compensation for this purpose. These benefits are subject to income tax withholding as wages. They may be subject to social security and Medicare taxes as well. Supplemental unemployment benefits are reported to you on Form W-2 (PDF). For more information about supplemental unemployment benefits, see Publication 15-A (PDF) , section 5.
Unemployment benefits from a private fund (or, in some cases, public fund) to which you voluntarily contribute are taxable only if the amounts you receive are more than your total payments into the fund. This taxable amount is not unemployment compensation; it is reported as other income on Form 1040 (PDF).
For more information, see Unemployment Benefits in Publication 525.
Legal Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on since each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. A lawyer experienced in the subject area and licensed to practice in the jurisdiction should be consulted for legal advice. Circular 230 Disclaimer: Any information in this answer may not be used to eliminate or reduce penalties by the IRS or any other governmental agency.