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IRS on Track to Give Fewest Tax Refunds in at Least 15 Years, Data Shows

As of the week ending March 15, the IRS had issued just over 49 million tax refunds, close to 9% lower than at that point last year.

By Dave Eisenstadter, (TNS)

With this year’s tax filing deadline approaching, IRS reporting continues to show millions fewer refunds this year compared with last year.

Records obtained from the IRS show that this year’s tax season is on track to have the fewest refunds in at least 15 years.

As of the week ending March 15, the most recent data available, the IRS had issued just over 49 million tax refunds, close to 9% lower than at that point in the tax season last year, when nearly 54 million had been issued.

And last year was already a low point in tax refunds, according to IRS records.

By the end of 2023, there were 105.7 million tax refunds out of a total of about 162 million returns filed, meaning 65.3% of people got money back from the government over the course of the year.

That number fell short of historical averages. From 2009 through 2021, between 70% and 80% of tax filers got refunds.

Because of a vast array of of factors going into the number of returns and refunds that are issued, an IRS spokesman who supplied MassLive with the data declined to speculate on the reasons behind the reduction.

“All of our systems are working and the volumes of returns we’re receiving are on par for what we would expect considering the shortened filing season and the vagaries of the calendar,” the spokesperson said.

This year’s tax filing season started later than last year’s, but the number of refunds has not kept pace with the number of returns filed. While there have been about 900,000 fewer returns processed by March 15 than a similar date in 2023, there have been nearly 4.8 million fewer tax refunds issued in the same range.

There is still time for the number of tax funds to catch up. The tax deadline is April 15 for most taxpayers, and April 17 for those in Massachusetts and Maine due to the Patriots’ Day holiday. Additionally, late tax returns are accepted throughout the year.

The gap has closed in the past two weeks of reporting. For the week ending in March 1, there were nearly 6 million fewer refunds issued compared with about 4.8 million fewer reported by the week ending March 15.


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