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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... Read more →

With inflation at historic levels, U.S. families are re-examining their budgets. Uncle Sam recently did the same with his money, or rather the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) did. What this federal agency within the government's legislative branch found was surprising. The word that the CBO actually used was unexplained in connection with the robust growth of tax collections. Unexplained income tax revenue: "Tax collections in both 2020 and 2021 were larger than the currently available data on economic activity would suggest," according to the CBO report "The Budget and Economic Outlook: 2022 to 2032" issued on May 24. "That unexplained... Read more →

Most U.S. taxpayers made it through Tax Day 2022. They either filed their 1040 forms, or they got an extension to submit their returns by Oct. 17. The Internal Revenue Service reported that by April 15, which usually is the annual filing deadline, but was pushed to the next business day by Washington, D.C.'s Emancipation Day holiday, it had received more than 122.5 million returns. That's around 73 percent of the people who filed in 2020 and 2021, when filings exceeded historical averages. The count was higher those years because people who normally weren't required to send in a return... Read more →

Individuals and private businesses weren't the only ones to take economic hits during the persistent pandemic. As people started isolating, either of their own volition or due to mandates, and retailers had to close, states officials also started worrying about the associated revenue damage that COVID-19 would cause to their treasuries. Apparently, in several states those fears were, thank goodness, exaggerated. Flat or increased revenue for many states: "Despite historic declines in the first half of 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, tax revenue was on the mend in most states by the end of the year," according to a... Read more →

Millions of taxpayers have already followed this calendar note's insistent instruction. Reading tax statistics can be a lot like checking out COVID-19 vaccination options. You can't just look at one number. You have to take into account the circumstances that produced the percentage that caught your attention. That's the deal with the 2021 filing season figures. Percentages skewed by season lengths: As of Feb. 26, the latest complete information collected by the Internal Revenue Service, almost 45.3 million 2020 tax returns have been filed. That's a 23.7 percent drop from the amount of submitted returns through the end of February... Read more →

All tax eyes nowadays are on coronavirus relief measures, both the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that became law in late March and The Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act that passed that passed House on Friday (May 15), but isn't expected move, at least not quickly, through the Senate. That's understandable. Businesses are still struggling, despite some partial re-openings across the country, and most people who got laid off are still out of jobs. They are growing more desperate each day for the financial help that CARES offers and the HEROES promises. But... Read more →

Just can't get motivated to do your taxes? You are not alone. It's April, but the pandemic has shifted the tax focus this year from filing, which has a new July 15 deadline, to the coronavirus economic relief payments. Still, if you're due a refund — and yes, some folks who get tax money back still dally when it comes to sending in their returns — you might want to go ahead and get to work on that 1040. The main reason to file is that you'll get your 2019 tax year refund. That's not going to happen until the... Read more →

Even with increased e-filing, taxpayers still don't seem to be in a big hurry to send their 1040s to the IRS. At the start of every filing season, there's a lot of talk and media coverage (guilty!) about how folks are champing at the bit to get their returns in to the Internal Revenue Service. And for the last five years, taxpayers have said "meh," at least as far as filing as soon as they can. Comparing IRS filing data for early February from 2016 through 2020, we see: Filing Season Week Ending # Returns Filed % Change from Prior... Read more →

High tax filing season is over and the numbers have been tallied. Unfortunately for Republicans who still are fighting the public relations war over their major tax reform law, the figures aren't good. Yes, fractionally more money has been delivered to taxpayers through April 21, almost a week after the filing deadline for most U.S taxpayers. But the average refund check remains smaller than it was last year. In 2018, the average refund was $2,780. This year, it came to $2,725. In case you're not good at math in your head (I'm not) and don't have a calculator handy, that's... Read more →

It's taken a few weeks, four to be exact, but the 2019 tax season is finally catching up. The latest Internal Revenue Service filing season statistics show that while most categories that the agency tracks each filing season are still lagging 2018 figures, the differences are starting to shrink. And there's even better news for folks who are getting refunds. The average check amounts issued through Feb. 22 are dramatically larger than the week before. More notable, those average refund amounts have finally topped the averages of year ago. Unpleasant tax refund surprises: In case you haven't been following the... Read more →

There's better news for taxpayers this week. Internal Revenue Service data for the second week of the 2019 tax filing season shows a slightly larger refund amount. When the IRS released its first-week data, which covered 2018 tax returns filed by Feb. 1, the number of 1040s submitted and processed, as well as the number of refunds and average amount of those fewer checks, were dramatically lower than at the same time last year. That led to much grumbling by filers and arguments among supporters and opponents of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) about how the major tax... Read more →

One thing that's constant every tax filing season is that people who are expecting refunds file their returns early. Until this year. The number of tax returns filed, processed and refunds issued are all down dramatically this filing season. The impact of a required hold on some refunds also is affecting the average check amount, which at this point last year was $3,385 but is just $1,994 so far into 2017. Internal Revenue Service data so far this filing season, which officially started Jan. 23, shows a dramatic decrease in the number of tax returns the agency has received and... Read more →

This post was updated Feb. 13, 2018. After starting a bit late, the 2018 filing season is well underway. That means that millions of filers have already sent the Internal Revenue Service their tax returns, mostly because they're expecting a refund. The total number of refunds issued so far in 2018 is a bit smaller than those issued early in last year's filing season. Of course, this year's filing season opened a week later than it did in 2017. IRS Action Through Feb. 3, 2017 Through Feb. 2, 2018 Percentage change Tax returns received 20.181 million 18.302 million -9.3 Tax... Read more →

The IRS commissioner wasn't kidding. Weeks before the 2015 tax filing season started, John Koskinen warned both his employees and the taxpaying public that many calls for help were likely to be ignored. "For the upcoming filing season, we estimate that only about 50 percent of taxpayers who call can reach us over the phone," Koskinen said in an email to Internal Revenue Service staff back in December. Turns out he was being optimistic. Telephone tax help troubles: A new Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, or TIGTA, examination of the interim results of the 2015 filing season found that... Read more →

No tax season ever runs without any hitches. 2015 is no different. So far this year we've seen some early season frustration with new Affordable Care Act requirements, as well as tax identity theft fraud scares that slowed processing of some returns. 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... Read more →

Electronic tax filing popularity continues to grow

All in all, it was a pretty uneventful tax filing season. The relatively smooth 2014 filings probably are due in large part because we taxpayers didn't have to deal with last-minute changes by Congress in tax laws. That's also probably why the number of returns that the Internal Revenue Service reported receiving a few days after the April 15 deadline, was slightly ahead of last year's filing pace. IRS numbers crunchers report that as of April 18 the agency had received more than 131 million returns. That's 0.7 percent more than at that time last year. The increase that the... Read more →

You want to e-file your tax return this year so you've gone to a paid tax professional to get the job done. You'd better double check. Not all tax preparers are EROs. ERO stands for Electronic Return Originator. Basically, these folks that the Internal Revenue Service has accepted as electronic transmitters of a filer's tax return information to the agency. An ERO generally is the first point of contact for many taxpayers who electronically file their taxes. They typically advertise their services by displaying "Authorized IRS e-file Provider" signs in their tax office windows or icons on their websites. And... Read more →

If you got a federal tax refund the last two filing seasons, chances are that your check from Uncle Sam this year was smaller. The average tax refund amount through the end of April was $2,716. That's $106 less than the average refund amount issued at around the same time last year, according to the latest Internal Refund Service 2012 tax filing season data. It's also this week's By the Numbers figure. Taxpayers who had their refunds directly deposited averaged slightly larger checks: $2,923. [1]Results for 2011 vary from those posted last year because certain results were totaled on different... Read more →

OK, a tax refund is not nearly as big as today's Mega Millions lottery payout, which has now grown to $640 million. But getting some tax cash back from Uncle Sam is a welcome annual ritual for many folks. Yes, the standard spiel now, which I've given myself over the years, is that you should adjust your withholding so you don't give the federal government a year-long interest free loan of your money. The reality is, though, that a whole lot of people like to use over-withholding as a forced savings account. And with interest rates so low on low-risk... Read more →

The Internal Revenue Service usually issues weekly statistics during filing season. The details include not only how many returns the agency has received and processed, but also the numbers on electronic versus traditional mail filings, as well as the size of tax refunds, directly deposited or snail mailed, that have been issued. Those figures haven't been posted this filing season. The latest individual filing data report on the IRS site is for the week ending Dec. 31, 2011. That the IRS hasn't been forthcoming with 2012 filing season stats is not that surprising given all the trouble the agency has... Read more →