COVID-19 and the Philadelphia wage tax: who can get a refund?

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- So many people are working from home during the pandemic, and that could impact your taxes.

Normally Philadelphia non-residents employed in the city can get a wage tax refund for days they worked outside of Philadelphia. So you might think non-residents who worked from home during the pandemic would be getting a big, fat check this tax season, but that is not necessarily the case for everyone.

Action News went right to the City Department of Revenue for answers.

"If you've been required to work from home outside of Philadelphia, because of the pandemic, or just because your employer requires you to work from home, you don't pay wage tax for the time that you've been working outside of the city," explained Philadelphia Deputy Revenue Commissioner Rebecca Lopez Kriss.

RELATED: Philadelphia Wage Tax Q&A applicable to COVID19 policies

The keyword there is "required".

If you opted to work from home, even if it's because of a childcare issue or because you didn't feel safe to return to work, then the city says you must pay the wage tax and you are not eligible for a refund.

"Right, that's at their convenience. So if for any variety of reasons if they're staying at home because of their convenience, or because their employer doesn't require it, then they would still owe wage tax," she said.

Now if you are eligible for a refund it is at least easier to submit a petition.

RELATED: How working from home could affect your tax bill

"So the city has, for the first time ever, is allowing businesses or employers to petition for refunds on their employee's behalf," she said.

The city said all the forms will be available on the Department of Revenue website next week. (The week of Feb. 1). If your employer doesn't submit a refund petition for you there is a new online option where you can do it yourself.

"We're calling it the COVID easy form for folks who were sent home," she said.

Kriss is also pleading with people to be patient. She said normally it takes six to eight weeks to process refunds. She said this year despite efforts to streamline the system and beef up staff, it could take longer.
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