Tax Refunds: Early Returns Are In, and Refunds Are Higher This Year (So Far)

Any good news from the IRS is welcome these days, and the agency provided some last week. As of mid-February, it was ahead of last year’s pace both in terms of processing returns and the refund amounts it has issued.

See: Tax Refund Shuffle — IRS Assigns 1,200 Employees to Backlogs — How Will It Affect Customer Service?
Find: Tax Refund Tip — 3 Things That Could Help Get Your Money Earlier

The average refund this tax season was $3,590 through Feb. 18, 2022, the IRS reported — up 23% from $2,920 during a similar period last year. The total number of refunds grew 33% to 22.1 million, while the total number of direct deposit refunds increased 36% to 21.8 million.

The total number of returns received was up 3.5% to 35.9 million, and the total number of returns processed had risen 12% to 33.5 million — a key stat, considering that the IRS has been playing catch-up on a huge backlog of unprocessed returns for much of the past year.

The average refund amount surprised experts who expect lower refunds this year for families who received the advance child tax credit, borrowers who paused student loan payments and investors with large mutual fund payouts, CNBC reported.

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See: Taxes 2021 – How the Child Tax Credit and Student Loans Could Reduce Your Total Refund

Of course, it’s still early. The 2022 filing season began on Jan. 24, and there were still two months to go when the data were compiled. The tax season is scheduled to end on April 18. The average refund amount might come down as more returns are processed. As GOBankingRates previously reported, more than 160 million individual tax returns for the 2021 tax year are expected to be filed.

It should also be noted that last year’s tax season got off to a late start due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021 filing season began Feb. 12, 2021, the IRS said, and the filing deadline was May 17, 2021.

The IRS issues most refunds within 21 days of returns being filed, but you could face a delay if you file a paper return instead of an online return, and if you have inaccurate information on the return.

“We urge extra attention to those who received an economic impact payment or an advance child tax credit last year,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said in a statement. “People should make sure they report the correct amount on their tax return to avoid delays.”

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.

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