No tax season ever runs without any hitches. 2015 is no different.
But all in all, despite preseason worries, the 2015 federal tax filing season is off to a booming start.
Just ask the recipients of the almost 7.6 million refunds that were sent as of Jan. 30. The Internal Revenue Service says that number of refunds is almost twice what it issued by the end of January 2014.
Of course, last year the tax filing season was just getting under way. The IRS didn't start processing returns and issuing refunds until Jan. 30, 2014, because of the 16-day federal government shutdown in October 2013.
More money, too: You don't have to be a math wizard to figure out that if the IRS has sent out substantially more tax refunds early this filing season then the amount of money that those refunds represent also is higher.
It is indeed.
While the number of refunds is 97.9 percent greater this year, the dollar amount taken out of the U.S. Treasury is even larger. Refunds totaling around $26.9 billion have been issued. That's almost 118 percent more than the amount send out at around the same time last year.
So what does all this increased refunds figuring mean to Joe and Jane Taxpayer?
The average refund sent through Jan. 30 was $3,539. That's 10 percent larger than the average check of $3,218 sent out in the early part of last filing season.
Dramatic direct deposit increase: When the IRS breaks it down by directly deposited refunds, the amount goes up a tad.
These refunds were 10.5 percent larger than last year, averaging $3,586 per recipient in 2015.
That certainly makes the more than 7.3 million folks who had Uncle Sam send their tax cash directly to their bank accounts very happy.
Escalating e-fling: Electronic filing also continues to grow.
By Jan. 30, more than 13.3 million tax returns had been e-filed. That's a 28 percent increase over last year and accounted for around 95 percent of the returns the IRS received last month.
Almost 7.5 million taxpayers took care of their own e-filed tax returns.
The other nearly 6 million electronically submitted returns were prepared by tax professionals. That's a 39 percent increase over last year's early season tally.
That's great news for my pals in the tax prep business. Last year, the first report of filing data showed a slight drop in the use of paid tax preparers.
It will be interesting to see if the initial increased reliance on tax pros holds throughout this filing season.
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