NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Perfect Timing For Sky-high Tax Refunds

March 7, 2002

Average federal tax refunds have been trending upward for the past decade. But the refunds this year are exceptionally large -- and the savings or spending they will generate couldn't come at a better time for the slowly recovering economy.

  • The Internal Revenue Service reports that the average refund through last Friday totaled $2,091 -- up 12 percent from the comparable period last year.
  • So far, they have pumped $74 billion into the U.S. economy -- or nearly double the sum of last year's rebate.
  • In recent years, about 70 percent of filers have been getting refunds.
  • Since 1992, the average refund has risen about 5.5 percent annually.

Don Roberts of the IRS says that when tax filing season ends this year, the average will almost certainly decline from mid-season -- but it will be well above last year's average of $1,743.

Among the reasons for the exceptionally large increase in refunds are the increased child credit and lower rates.

Source: Thomas A. Fogarty, "Tax Cut Delivers Higher Refunds," USA Today, March 7, 2002.

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