Apr 16, 2024 - Economy

Tax refunds are bigger, but fewer people are getting them

IRS 1040 forms with IRS logo

The IRS processed 66.8 million refunds as of April 5, Photo: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images

This year's average income tax refund is larger, but fewer taxpayers have gotten money back than last year in the final stretch of tax season, IRS data shows.

Why it matters: Nearly a third of taxpayers say they depend on tax refunds to make ends meet, according to a Credit Karma survey.

The big picture: Nearly 66.8 million refunds had been processed as of April 5, compared to 69.1 million through April 7, 2023, IRS data shows. That's a difference of 2.3 million tax refunds, a 3.3% decline.

  • The average refund was $3,011 through April 5, compared to $2,878 for refunds processed through April 7, 2023 — a 4.6% increase.

Zoom in: There's no clear explanation for why fewer people would be getting refunds this year, and those numbers could change once last-minute returns are accounted for.

What they're saying: IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel said on a call with reporters that two out of three taxpayers get refunds, adding that refunds have been processed quicker this year.

  • "In many cases, people have been getting refunds in just over a week," Werfel said. "That's important because for many people, these are the biggest checks they see all year."

Between the lines: Monday was the tax filing deadline for most of the country but taxpayers living Maine or Massachusetts have until Wednesday to file.

Where's My Refund: How to use IRS tool

Refund status updates typically appear 24 hours after e-filing a current year return on the Where's My Refund tool, the IRS said.

  • For paper returns, plan to wait about four weeks for an update.
  • The IRS said filing electronically and choosing direct deposit is the fastest way to get a refund.

More from Axios:

Go deeper