Tax refunds through March down $6 billion from last year

The IRS issued about $6 billion less in refunds through March compared to a similar period last year, according to recent government data.

The agency said it disbursed about $206.1 billion in refunds through March 29, a 2.9 percent decline from the $212.3 billion refunded though March 30, 2018.

The number of returns the IRS has received and processed this year is also lower than a comparable period in 2018.

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The agency said it has issued about 1.6 million fewer refunds, and has processed about 1.3 million fewer returns through March 29 than it had at a similar point last year.

Tax preparers say some people are taking longer to file their taxes because they want to make sure they understand how their financial situation was affected by President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump pushes back on recent polling data, says internal numbers are 'strongest we've had so far' Illinois state lawmaker apologizes for photos depicting mock assassination of Trump Scaramucci assembling team of former Cabinet members to speak out against Trump MORE's 2017 tax law. This is the first year people are filing taxes that reflect many of the law's changes.

The average refund amount and percentage of taxpayers receiving refunds through March 29 are slightly down compared to last year.

Refund are down by an average of $20, and 79.4 percent of processed returns received a refund, compared with 80.1 percent through March 30 last year.

Refunds are being closely watched this year because of the 2017 tax law and IRS guidance on withholding from people's paychecks, released in early 2018, to reflect key parts of the previous year's measure.

Most people are getting a tax cut under the law, and people can get a tax cut even if they had a smaller refund. But many taxpayers rely on their refunds for savings or major purchases.

Tax preparers say changes in refund amounts this year depend largely on a taxpayer's financial situation.