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What is the Average Tax Refund?

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average tax refundAs of March 22nd, the average tax refund stands at just a hair under three thousand dollars. At this time last year, the average was a little over that amount, sitting at $3,030 (the average for last year would later fall to $2,803 as later filers were accounted for).

As is always the case earlier in the season, this average will likely go down. It’s usually higher because people due refunds tend to file earlier than those who are not expecting one. If you were due a refund, it may make sense to adjust your tax withholding as you don’t want to give Uncle Sam 25% of your income.

I wanted to dig a little deeper on the question of average income tax refund because nearly three thousand dollars seems really high but it actually isn’t. It took a bit of searching but after some research into their SOI Tax Stats page, I was able to glean a few gems about the average tax refund.

Average Tax Year 2013 Refund: $2,985 (link)

2013 Tax Statistics

As of March 22nd, we’ve seen 80.4 million returns, which is a 5.2% drop from this time last year. All the various filing season statistics are down this year, including the tax refund amount (down 1.5%). The one surprise in all this was the increase in self-prepared returns compared to tax professionals. There’s a 0.9% increase in the number of returns that are being self-prepared – I think that’s a great. Another great statistics is the percentage of filers requesting direct deposit refunds is higher than last year – folks are wising up! Don’t wait for a check, get your refund faster.

2012 Tax Statistics

As of April 27th, nearly two weeks after the end of tax season, the average tax refund dipped slightly from two weeks ago to $2,716 as more returns were filed. They’ve now processed 126.3 million returns of a total 133.5 million received with 99.1 million refunds. The number of direct depositors increased to 78 million with a total amount of refunds hitting nearly $228 billion. A stunning figure that’s only 0.3% higher than the amount for last year.

As of April 13th, they have processed over 105.7 million returns out of 109.2 million. Not surprisingly, 69.7 million taxpayers opted for direct deposit and their refund was slightly lower at $2,762. What I’d like to know is why nearly 20 million refund eligible taxpayers didn’t opt for direct deposit, why not get your money sooner? At least they’re increases in totals over last year.

Historical Average Tax Refund

In previous years, the average tax refund has been in the same range, with the average peaking for the 2009 tax year before slipping:

  • Average 2012 Refund: $2,803
  • Average 2011 Refund: $2,913
  • Average 2010 Refund: $3,003
  • Average 2009 Refund: $3,036
  • Average 2008 Refund: $2,728
  • Average 2007 Refund: $2,699

If you’re a stat junkie and glean anything remarkable in those IRS stats, please let us know!

(Photo: doncav)

{ 113 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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113 Responses to “What is the Average Tax Refund?”

  1. Tony says:

    I’m very disappointed in my refund total this year. I’m single with no dependents & only earned a paltry $34k last year, while the gov’t unabashedly sucked about $3,200 in federal income tax out of me. I’m only getting little over $500 in federal & $260 in state taxes back.

    I bust my hump all year & that’s all I get back…and for what? So our government can wage two unwinnable wars, spend trillions on defense, and then have the temerity to talk about cutting back on medicare & social security??? Most of us already get jack squat from the gov’t as it is in terms of services & benefits for all the tax dollars they shamelessly leech from us, and that’s the reward we get?

  2. aaw3612 says:

    If you want the most money back when you file do your w4 the right way, do 0 dependents and single even if married and have them take out an extra $10 from each paycheck, then when you do your taxes clam your dependents and file married if you are, that way you are getting less back during the year and more back when you file, I am getting over $8000 fed and over $700 state, or clam more dependents and married on your w4 and get more back during the year and less when you file.

  3. angry in va says:

    I’m a homeowner, married with 2 kids. We both work. Both claim 0-fed 0-state. We owe federal 1300$ and will get a state return for 1200$ total return 100$ WTF?

  4. Kayla says:

    Sinc the avearge is ususally aboy 3,000..i was getting 4767 back this year and i had 2 dependts…then the irs sent me a letter stating do not contact them if i dont hear anything within 45 bussiness days? Does this mean i wont get my taxes..and i filed feb 11,2011 and were in April. When i called the irs they told me call back the week of the 25th. and the will beable to tell me something? DO you have any idea whats going on i hear im not the onle one…

  5. delo says:

    I made 80,000.00 with wife and 2 kids and only get 670.00 back what is that all about I feel cheated or not using turbo tax right.

  6. Bob says:

    This is surprising only if “average” means mean. The mean and median may differ in a significant way here, right?

  7. shawn says:

    I’m a government employee at the veterans addministration..with no kids and filed single ..I will average about 28,000 gross income…what should my return be…anything else i can file being. Vet and government employee..any advice would be much obliged..

  8. Dorothy says:

    What if I make under 10,000 because I started a new job and I only have 1 kid. What would I be looking at?

  9. Crystal says:

    when i was single i had back federal taxes owed, which I am making payments, if i file a joint tax return with my husband will my back taxes come out of his return?

  10. Anonymous says:

    i need to know how much i would get back claiming single with two kids but only like 8 or nine grand any body

  11. :) says:

    I had been on unemployment for the past two years, lowered my expenses to the bone, filed my taxed, got refunds, now have a bank account with over $30,000. Thanks!

  12. Kim says:

    Ashley did you find out how :) the lady that been unemployed for 2yrs get of 30, 0000 in her accout. Let me know becaue I been getting unemployemnt for almost two years and I want to know how I get money like that. Did she claims her children, how did she do it.

  13. Hadiep08 says:

    Has anyone gotten there income taxes back yet?

  14. crystal says:

    just curious, my husband made around about 20 to 25 thou we have a son, and he claims me since I don’t work. I wonder what our taxes will be like. last year he made too much like 45 thou and we got back 1,300 I think. and the year before he made a lot less and we got back a little over six grand.

  15. Lavie says:

    Hi all,

    I think I’m getting shafted here, please correct me if I am wrong. My 2011 wages were 25,681 with 2002 fed withheld, 655 state. I am getting back $1 federally and 50 from state. That seems a little weak to me…

  16. David says:

    My wife is a stay at home mom and we have a 1 year old daughter (dependant). We filed jointly even though my wife does not work. AGI was $29,000. Our refund was $4700, which is the biggest refund we’ve ever received due to both my wife not working in 2011 and the Earned Income Credit for our 1 year old daughter. Our refund was about double what was actually withheld in taxes.

    The extra money is great, but it doesn’t come out of thin air. In the end the burden falls on the middle and high income taxpayers to support us. It’s basically theft and it doesn’t seem ethical to me. The crazy thing is we don’t even need the money. We’re doing just fine financially, and even if we did need the money I think it would still be unethical. The irony is that they call it the Earned Income Credit, as if we’ve somehow earned the money that is being stolen from other tax payers and given to us.
    We prioritize and live within our means. With a $29,000 API we don’t expect to go on expensive vacations every year or buy hundreds of dollars worth of fancy new clothes every week. Unfortunately the system we have encourages people who can’t afford it to do just that, all while feeling entitled to the money of other hardworking Americans. It made me sick when we were in a higher income bracket and it makes me sick now that we are reaping the benefits.

    • Kee says:

      Give the Money back…If you are so sick then do something…..you don’t need the money..so donate it to the middle or upper class..thats where it’s coming from …right?

    • Anonymous says:

      You earned that money. It isn’t a gift. Do you even know what a tax refund is?

  17. rob says:

    did you really say donate it to the middle class or upper class? that sounds crazy..what about the people who really need it?

  18. ben says:

    I got my w2 for 2011, and have my tax expert do his job. My AGI is 36,841.16. Also have a child. He told me that the refund that I would get is 2,321.00.

    Last 2010, my AGI was 11,379.60. And I received a refund of 5,530.

    Why I am getting a low amount of refund right now?

  19. Anonymous says:

    What should my refund b.I claim 0. Have achild. My fianse. Myself.and paid alimony. Made 55k

  20. jon says:

    Last year i made under 25000$ I am single with no kids this year i had recieved a very good amount of raises and made some decent amount of money on incentive i made over 30000$ and hardly got anything back on my taxes. im pretty upset

  21. Marlo says:

    I am middle class with a college education and a government job. I am so tired of hearing my uneducated waitress and low income job single friends with a bunch of kids talk about their large tax returns. I think the EIC is a bunch of BS. It does not promote people to get out there and get educated and apply for better jobs. All is does is keep the lower class lazy. I personally would like to see it done away with. It’s sad, if your rich you can avoid overpaying taxes because you can afford the shelters. If your poor everything is handled to you from houseing to daycare to food and medical care. If your like me and most of America, you get to foot the bill for these large tax returns!

  22. momof1 says:

    This year i claimed my daughter and filed single and i am expecting 5200 back. However i was told my return is being reviewed. Not sure what this means but i was also told that it will take up to 3 weeks to process instead of what was originally told to me, which was that i would recieve my return on feb 14th. Anyone else ever had their return reviewed? I didnt file HOH because my boyfriend which is my daughters father and i live together. He makes $100 more a month than i do, and we pay 50/50 for everything. anyone have any insight?

  23. Kevin Stoner says:

    That’s interesting because I saw an H&R Block commercial stating that the average refund was $3,000. I really don’t know which is more accurate, but it’s funny to me how much different the estimates are.

    I usually don’t get much back since I adjust my W-4 to get it throughout the year. What I do get normally just goes towards bills or whatever else needs taking care of. This year, I will be getting a little more back due to an oversight on my part, but that will be put towards a new media company I am starting to handle the websites I plan on putting up throughout the year.

  24. WHAA WAH says:

    listen to all of you complaining about how little your tax returns are..you all sound like little children. Stop complaining and be happy your getting anything back and that you actually have jobs. Some people cant even get jobs and you people are crying about shit

  25. cry more says:

    shut up and stop crying about not getting enough back.


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