Average tax refunds up 19%, now in line with 2018 levels, IRS says

The average tax refund, which had been lagging so far this tax season, is now in line with last year’s levels, according to data released Thursday by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

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Data from the week ending Feb. 22 showed the average refund was $3,143 – a 1.3 percent increase when compared with the same period last year ($3,103). It encompasses four weeks of tax season.

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.

The overall amount the IRS has paid in refunds is now only down about 3.6 percent. The total number of refund checks doled out is down 4.8 percent.

So far this year more than 47 million returns have been processed, a decline of more than 4 percent when compared with the same period last year. More than 3 percent fewer returns have been received by the agency.

Throughout the early weeks of this year’s tax season, many payers voiced frustrations over smaller or non-existent refunds – with some even owing the agency for the first time.

On this note, the Treasury continued to emphasize that there is a difference between your tax liability and your tax refund.

“The size of someone’s refund is a separate issue from whether their taxes have increased or decreased,” the department noted in a statement on Thursday. “Most people are benefiting from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act by receiving larger paychecks throughout the year, instead of tax refunds that simply result from people overpaying the government throughout the year.”


Overall, Treasury officials said they expect fewer Americans to get refunds this year when compared with last year. However, they said most Americans are still expected to see a net tax benefit as a result of the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

A spokesperson for the Treasury Department previously told FOX Business that individual taxes will be lower for “approximately 80 percent of filers” thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Meanwhile, another 15 percent of people will see no change. That leaves about 5 percent who will owe more.