Why All the Whining? IRS Reports Tax Refunds Up 1.3% Over Last Year

Nick Kangadis | March 1, 2019
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I haven’t been able to wrap my head around why people are so upset that some of their tax returns were lower than last year. It’s actually pretty basic math. The more the government takes from your paycheck throughout a particular year, the more you get back on your refund. The less the government takes from your paychecks, which also gives you more money throughout the year, the less you’re going to get on your return. There are occasional caveats to that breakdown, but that’s more the exception, not the rule.

A lot of those irrational fears have apparently been unfounded, as after the fourth week of the filing season the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is reporting that the average refund is up 1.3 percent — or an average of $40 per return.

According to Fox Business:

That represents a meaningful jump when compared with last week’s data, which had the average refund pegged at $2,640, down by double digits when compared with the year prior.

The Treasury Department attributed the sizable increase in average refund size to the remainder of the Earned Income Tax Credits and Child Tax Credits being paid out last week. It also cautioned that data is likely to fluctuate week to week, and it is therefore difficult to draw conclusions this early on in the filing season.

To be fair to the numbers, 4.6 percent fewer returns have been processed compared to the same point last year — which turns out to be almost three million fewer returns. However, visits to the IRS website are ironically up 9.1 percent over last year at the same point, or nearly 30 million more visitors.

The 2019 tax season ends April 15th, leaving a little more than six weeks left to file tax returns.