The IRS Says Tax Refunds Are Actually Larger This Year — What This Means for You

The average refund is 1.3 percent higher than last year's.
  • Early refunds were smaller by as much as 16.7 percent.
  • The latest data shows the average refund is up by 1.3 percent.
  • However, a big refund may not be the best deal for you.

With the 2019 tax season in full swing, taxpayers are finally feeling the impact of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. From the change in filing forms to the size of the average refund, tax year 2018 wrought many surprises for taxpayers this year.

When returns started coming in at the beginning of February, many people were dismayed to see that their refunds were smaller than they had been in years past, or, even worse, that they owed money to the Internal Revenue Service. Frustrated filers flooded Twitter with “GOPTaxScam” hashtags as a result.

Now, the IRS says refunds are larger than they were last year. What’s going on?

Read: When Will You Get Your Tax Refund? Here’s When to Expect That Check

Here’s What the IRS Says

The IRS tracks the number and amount of refunds it issues, and it publishes that information on a weekly basis on its website. The amounts are cumulative, so they represent the total number and amount of refunds issued for the tax season up to that date.

Make Your Money Work

This year, by the week of Feb. 1, the IRS had issued 4.6 million refunds. The average refund came to $1,865, down 8.4 percent from the average of $2,035 at the same point in the 2018 tax season. But by Feb. 22, the IRS had issued 38.6 million refunds. The average refund was $3,143, or 1.3 percent higher than the same week in 2018.

Find Out: Here’s the Average IRS Tax Refund Amount

What This Means for Your Refund

The overall trend for refunds doesn’t mean a whole lot for any one person’s circumstances. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act lowered tax rates for millions of Americans, but it also eliminated many deductions. And many people got more money in their paychecks, which is the main reason for smaller refunds, since you’ve been spending that tax cut all year long.

Learn: How to Itemize Deductions Like a Tax Pro

On the other hand, getting a big refund is like giving the government an interest-free loan all year. More pay and a smaller refund could be seen as a better deal for you.

Keep reading to find out the No. 1 thing Americans do with their tax refund.

More on Taxes

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About the Author

Karen Doyle

Karen Doyle is a personal finance writer with over 20 years’ experience writing about investments, money management and financial planning. Her work has appeared on numerous news and finance websites including GOBankingRates, Yahoo! Finance, MSN, USA Today, CNBC,, and more.

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