The Treasury Department’s latest weekly figures show that average taxpayer refunds are just about the same as last year’s, even under the new tax reform.
The average refund check was $40 more this year than last year through the week ending February 22, according to data released by the Internal Revenue Service on Thursday.
That’s just 1.3% more for the roughly 47.4 million Americans whose returns were processed for the most recent week, compared to the same period last year.
The Treasury Department came under fire for an early drop in refunds, though the agency has noted that actually suggests that individual payroll withholding throughout the year has gotten more accurate.
“Most people are seeing the benefits of the tax cut in larger paychecks throughout the year, instead of tax refunds that are the result of people overpaying the government,” a Treasury spokesperson said in a statement earlier this month.
But many Americans depend on their tax refunds as a windfall they use to pay for big-ticket items like cars, appliances or vacations – a reality the Trump administration tacitly acknowledged when it committed to paying out refunds despite the recent partial government shutdown, a reversal of established IRS practice.
Treasury also noted in its latest release that tax refunds on average week-over-week jumped 19% to $3,143 compared to last week’s average of $2,640. The increase, they said, is largely due to remaining earned income tax credits and child tax credits that were disbursed this week. The two tax credits couldn’t be paid out until Feb. 15 under the law, resulting in bigger refund checks for Americans in the past two weeks.
This year’s filing season, the first under the 2017 tax reform, is being closely watched for unexpected impacts on individuals. Treasury has made it a point of saying that results of the tax filing season vary week to week and to avoid drawing conclusions so early in the season.
The number of returns processed so far by the IRS is still slightly below last year’s nearly 50 million returns.