Though tax filing season started later than expected, in the first week of filing the Internal Revenue service received 27.3 million returns and issued 19.5 million refunds, an increase compared to recent years. That totals to $64.5 billion in tax refunds. Before the start of the season, the IRS was confident that it would be able to issue refunds on time in spite of the delay; and now that the statistics have come out, the IRS has done even better than other years. There has been an increase of more than 18 percent in the number of refunds the IRS has issued compared to this time last year.
The delay to the start of tax season was due to the time lost during the 16 day federal government shutdown in October. Because the majority of the IRS was temporarily furloughed during the shutdown, the IRS had to deal with the huge backlog, and lost a crucial two weeks updating and preparing its systems for the tax season. To be properly prepared to handle tax season, the IRS delayed the start of the season by 10 days.
In the first week of filing, January 31st to February 7th, the average refund issued was $3,317, which is more than 4.6 percent larger than the average refund amount compared to 2013. In part, the reason for the increase in the number of refunds issued is that more taxpayers have filed their returns early this year, with more and more filing electronically. Electronically filed returns account for more than 96 percent of the returns filed so far. In addition, the amount of taxpayers signing up for the direct deposit of their refund is up more than 9.8 percent. Just over 87 percent of all refunds issued so far were directly deposited into taxpayer accounts.
Taxpayers who haven’t filed yet can expect their refunds to reach them within 21 days. After the e-filing their return, taxpayers can check the status of their refund using the “Where’s My Refund?”service on IRS.gov or the IRS2GO mobile app 24 hours after of they submit their return. Taxpayers who mail in a paper return should wait 4 weeks before checking the status of their refund. “Where’s My Refund” is updated once a day.