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That's all?!? (Photo by Karolina Grabowska)

As we hit mid-February, more tax refunds will start going out. The Internal Revenue Service has been waiting, per 2015's Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes, or PATH, Act, to issue refunds on returns where filers claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC).

The mandated delay was designed to give the IRS more time to catch fraudulent refunds based on these two popular tax credits.

The IRS expects most EITC and/or ACTC related refunds to be available in taxpayer bank accounts or on debit cards by Feb. 28 if taxpayers chose direct deposit and there are no other issues with their tax returns.

Dramatic increase in 2023 filings: But even with tax cash on hold, the IRS had issued nearly 8 million refunds during the first two weeks of the 2023 filing season.

Those 7.996 million refunds sent out by Feb. 3 represented a dramatic increase — an almost 85 percent jump — over the 4.3 million refunds distributed by early February 2022.

The total refunds increase accompanied a smaller, but still notable, increase of nearly 14 percent in returns filed early this year. 

The overall dollar refund amount is greater this year, too.

The IRS' first filing season statistics report of this year noted that it had refunded almost $16 billion dollars to taxpayers. That's a 64.6 percent bump from 2022's $9.5 billion at the same point in last year's filing season.

But on a per-taxpayer basis, the refund news is not quite as good.

Average refund amount, however, is down: The average refund amount for the first couple of weeks of the current filing season is $1,963. That's almost 11 percent less than last year's early season refund average of $2,201.

The drop in the refund amounts might surprise taxpayers, but the IRS had warned of the possibility. Among the reasons are that some of the tax breaks that were created or enhanced during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, notably changes to the EITC, have ended.

Still, a nearly $2,000 average refund isn't bad. And the IRS says that filers who had their refunds directly deposited this year got even larger average refunds of $2,056.

Your refund, of course, whether you have it sent straight to your bank or snail mailed as a paper U.S. Treasury check could be smaller or larger.

Tracking your refund: If you were an early filer and are still waiting for your refund, you can check its status using the IRS' "Where's My Refund?" tracking tool or, for filers on the go, via the tax agency's IRS2Go app.

Data for refunds to EITC/ACTC taxpayers should be added to the online refund locator this week.

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