With the extended Tax Day deadline of May 17 only two weeks away, it appears that millions of Americans are in a mad rush to file their taxes so that they can get their hands on their tax refunds—which could essentially amount to another round or two of coronavirus stimulus checks.
But according to Internal Revenue Service data compiled by LendingTree, there can be stark differences in the amount of refunds depending on where one lives. In 2018, the latest available data, the average refund was revealed to be $3,660, the report said.
The data further showed that taxpayers in thirteen U.S. states saw average refunds higher than the average, while those living in thirty-seven states saw smaller payments.
According to LendingTree, taxpayers in Wyoming ($4,602), Connecticut ($4,452), and the District of Columbia ($4,403) received the biggest average tax refunds. In contrast, Maine ($2,743), Vermont ($2,914), and Oregon ($2,970) taxpayers got the smallest.
“For Americans as a whole, the average $3,660 tax refund would cover about three and a half months’ worth of rent,” the authors wrote. “In Wyoming, a $4,602 tax refund could cover almost half a year’s worth of rent payments, assuming the state median rent of $818.”
The data also found that a little more than 20 percent of taxpayers owed the IRS money—$5,621 on average. Those living in North Dakota ($7,247), Massachusetts ($6,942), and the District of Columbia ($6,897) were discovered to owe the most to the tax agency.
For this particular tax season, the IRS has noted that it has received more than ninety-three million individual tax returns and more than sixty-two million refunds have been disbursed. The average refund to date is roughly $2,900.
But with new tax codes to implement and more than a hundred sixty million stimulus checks being sent out, the IRS has struggled to get these refunds into taxpayers’ hands quickly. For many early filers, there have been reports that the average wait time for a refund has been about six to eight weeks—much longer than the typical wait time of three weeks or less.
It appears that tax returns filed back in 2020 are adding to the growing backlog at the IRS. As of April 9, the agency has admitted it had yet to complete 1.5 million individual tax returns received last year but are in the “processing pipeline.”
And according to the National Taxpayer Advocate, the IRS is holding nearly thirty million tax returns for manual processing, which is only further delaying the disbursement of refunds.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.