Unusually High Refunds Help Offset Tax Season Delays

Unusually High Refunds Help Offset Tax Season Delays

The average individual refund is 13.7 percent higher than last year.

With sky-high prices for gas, rent, food, and everything in between wreaking havoc on the budgets of millions of Americans, there’s no question that tax refunds have gained even more importance this year.

Per the latest statement from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the agency has processed roughly fifty-three million of the nearly fifty-five million individual income tax returns it has received. The number of processed returns is up by more than 8 percent from last year. In all, the agency has received more than one-third of all the individual returns it expects to get for this tax season.

As for the all-important tax refunds, the IRS confirmed that it has already disbursed nearly thirty-eight million, amounting to a hefty total of nearly $130 billion. Broken down, that comes out to an average refund of $3,401. This year’s average individual refund is 13.7 percent higher than last tax season's.

“It’s actually the taxman who might be giving families a cool breath of fresh air,” writes MarketWatch. “Of course, early numbers may not predict where refund amounts end up. By early December 2021, the average refund was $2,815. … The question is whether this trend can hold for the next two-thirds of the returns—the families still to file sure hope so,” MarketWatch’s report continues.

The Big Three

Citing Elaine Maag, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center, the financial news outlet pointed to the more generous child and dependent care credit, the child tax credit, and the earned income tax credit as the reasons for the bigger refunds this year.

Those are “the big three,” Mark Steber, chief tax information officer at Jackson Hewitt, told the site. “I will be highly surprised if refunds pull back much more than they are,” he added.

However, other experts do note that it is still early in the tax season. For example, personal finance expert Susan Tompor at the Detroit Free Press said that it’s important to keep in mind that the “IRS began processing returns roughly three weeks earlier this year than it did a year ago.”

“This year, the tax season began January 24,” she continued. “As a result, comparisons can be difficult. Weekly numbers also can shift dramatically early in the season, as filing patterns also change, according to the IRS.”

Delays Still Common

Despite the larger tax refunds seen this year, there are still plenty of reports of taxpayers having to endure long delays before getting their checks.

The IRS, which is still trying to process millions of returns from last year, has stated that most taxpayers should be able to receive their refunds within twenty-one days of filing if they have error-free returns and file electronically. Still, some tax returns might require additional manual review and could take much longer.

Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-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.

Image: Reuters.