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IRS: Average tax refund little changed from last year

IRS: Average tax refund little changed from last year
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The average tax refund from the first seven weeks of the 2019 filing season was virtually the same as amounts from a similar period last year, according to new IRS data.

The IRS on Thursday said the average refund amount through March 15 was $2,957, which is $3 less than the $2,960 average through March 16, 2018.

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Tax refunds are being closely watched this year because the filing season is the first to encompass a full year of President TrumpDonald TrumpThe Memo: The Obamas unbound, on race Iran says onus is on US to rejoin nuclear deal on third anniversary of withdrawal Assaults on Roe v Wade increasing MORE's tax-cut law. Shortly after the law was enacted in December 2017, the IRS issued guidance on withholding from paychecks that reflected key provisions in the GOP-backed measure.

Data from the first few weeks of the 2019 filing season showed a decline in the average refund size. But the cumulative data the IRS has released in recent weeks show refund amounts consistent with last year's average.

Analysts estimate that about 80 percent of taxpayers are getting a tax cut for their 2018 taxes, which they are filing this year. However, taxpayers may be getting a smaller refund or owe the IRS money, even if they got a tax cut, if they had less money taken out of their paychecks for taxes during the year.

IRS data show that the percentage of households receiving refunds so far this year is down by less than 1 percentage point compared to a similar period last year. The Treasury Department estimated last year that for 2018, 73 percent of wage earners will ultimately receive refunds, compared to 76 percent if the tax law had not been enacted.

The number of returns that have been filed through March 15 is 2.5 percent lower than it was at the same period last year. 

The Treasury Department has noted that the filing season data can change from week to week.