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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)

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

  1. Anonymous says:

    My mom is a registered nurse and she claimed me (21) & my daughter (4) and she was suppose to give me all the money she received for us. $600 is what she claims to be the money. Does this sound right? By the way I have full blown sickle-cell & and am considered a paraplegic since my accident two years ago.

    • Anonymous says:

      It sounds very possible, however you don’t provide enough information for a real answer. Your mom is an RN so (i hate making assumptions) the assumption is she is possibly above the income requirement for earned income credit. While she may have received the child tax credit for your daughter, you yourself are not bringing in the dollars as it seems you may assume. Each individual return is different, her refund is based on her earnings, what she paid in with regards to her tax liability, and her deductions which may be others outside of you and your daughter. I won’t judge because you did not say whether or not your worked or if you lived under her roof, however if you trusted her enough to claim you, then you should possibly trust that she is being honest in what she agreed to give you.

    • Anonymous says:

      no its not right my br0ther got $4000for his kid next time do ur own tax return.

  2. Anonymous says:

    It is your mom’s tax refund, not yours. Just because she was able to claim you as a dependent, does not mean it’s your money! Be happy she gave you what she did! Perhaps having a child at the age of 17 didn’t help your situation.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Please ignore the ignorant person that commented before me. If you worked in the last year, you file separate from your mother, even if she claims you. If you did not work, then you won’t be receiving a return because you didn’t pay taxes from your wages. Filing is fairly simple and you can have your federal stuff done for free a lot of places. Good luck!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps it’s none of your business what she does with her life. What gives you the right to be able to say anything. Some people who have children at a young age, plan it, and are good parents. Most don’t. Now a days it’s a trend. And I completely agree with the fact that she should’ve recieved part of that money. When you have children you do what you have to take care of you and them. If my family claimed me, you better believe I would be getting my share to take care of my babies. Especially if I worked and could’ve filed my own, and was nice enough to let them claim me so that they could make more. Find something better to do with your life other than to do research and decide to get into other peoples lives who have absolutely nothing to do with you. And people having children at a young age doesn’t affect your life at all. Especially since she’s a stranger, and doesn’t even know you. Or maybe she does and you just posted as anonymous, because you’re so pathetic that you couldn’t put your name up there. For all we know your a 40 year old who has your first baby, and you can’t stand the fact that she’s young and a better parent than you are. Stop running your mouth online, it’s so rediculous…

    • jhope says:

      I personally dont think that an open forum needs a “Reply Police Dept.” When someone makes a reply. And for those of us who have adult children, we know what adult “dependants” feels like. But along the lines of having children, I say make more babies! Why not, there never a mistake, and a lot of lives are like museums with out them. Im a fifty year old, and my lunch buddy at work has just gotten a grandaughter from her adult daughter who moved back in with her when dad unexpectedly died, and among all the great pain in the u know whats, she is having the greatest time of her older years with her grandchild! She did let new mommy claim her on her meager income tax. Just me, no charge!

  5. JYORK says:

    First of all, we get tax refunds based on the amount of taxes we owe compared to what we’ve already paid in. When we claim 1 or 2 on our W2, then we are paying less to the government than claiming 0, so the first thing you should ask is, what did your Mom claim. If she claimed zero, she paid all taxes possible, and will be getting a higher refund. If she need the money to support you guys, she should have claimed 2-3 in order to have the cash available to support you. This ultimately determines the amount she will get back.

    Secondly, assuming your mother is raising you and your child since she is claiming both of you, she is the one that is getting the refund money because she is the one that is working and earning the money to pay for your expenses. I can only assume you have no income, or else you would be filing yourself and claiming your child, in which case you would be getting much more than if you did nothing and let your mom give you what little she gets back from the government compared to the amount she shells out all year to pay for the cost of living for the both of you.

  6. Tyler says:

    Woah, spell check mr. rediculous…

  7. Anonymous says:

    This is in response to the person who claims people having children at a young age doesn’t affect the lives of others. Most teenagers that have children end up on welfare and other social services. That does have an affect on the lives of
    productive citizens because we have to pay for it.
    People should have children only when they are able to provide for them so that the rest of us don’t end up subsidizing them. I don’t know about you, but I have a hard enough time just trying to keep what I have in these tough economic times. Why should I have to pay for someone elses irresponsible behavior. And another thing, why are Americans subsidizing the children of illegal aliens?

    • Marcella says:

      I think that that’s your personal opinion and people like you need to get over it god forbid it happens in your family, EVERYONE makes mistakes d to fix them you need to do right! I had my so. When I was 17, Me and th father of my child (my husband) are high school graduates, we do attend college an my husband is in th military! People go through A LOT to be successful in life, do not judge peoe that is not your job it’s the man u

  8. Bill Campbell says:

    If there were 109 million refunds in 2011 and the average refund was around $3000, that means that 109 million people collectively loaned the US Government around $327 billion for the year. How nice of them. Nice work if you can get it. My average refund if around $10 because I choose to put the other $3000 in and interest-bearing account for the year, rather than loan it to the government. And, still there are those among us who maintain that we are not a dumb and getting dumber nation!!

  9. Don says:

    Your stats are diff from those on the IRS table you link to, which says the avg refund thru April 27 was $2,716. Am I missing something?

  10. John says:

    The refund is MOM’s…not yours. She got it, in part, from what she paid out of pocket to support you and yours. Giveing you the refund is simply being a good mom. Having a child at 17 is, indded, a value judgement. Our four daughters valued our judgement and didn’t have children till married. All are educated and doing quite well, but that’s just the way I look at it. No harm intended.

  11. Anonymous says:

    What is the average refund a new private owner can receive

  12. Jennyboogybuns says:

    In response to the boo booers about having a child at a young age ~ “value judgement”. Me & my husband had our son when i was 18 (he was 21). It was not “planned” but the most positive thing that could have happened to me/us. 22 yrs later (still married ~ although we got hitched after 13 yrs together)…I think we are doing rather well! Since i was a “single mom” technically, i was able to use grant funding to attend a 2 yr community college, and then skip on over to a university & pursue my accounting degree. Feeling like the US stepped up for me & provided this valuable funding… I have absolutely no problem “lending” them my money for a year (which is only about 1-2k). It feels good getting that refund at the beginning of a new year ~ usually comes in handy for spring emergencies ~ like car repairs, rent etc.! My son is now 22 & is attending culinary arts school… Anythony Bourdain ~ watch out! ;)

  13. Sindee says:

    OK I had a child at 15 and it was poor judgement on my part. Why can’t people admit that? Yes I had to rely on the goverment and my mom to get to where I am today. A productive citizen, an RN. But I worked and went to school and thank god for mom but I missed out on alot with my son and alot as a teen. So in my opinion wait until you can afford a child.

  14. proud mom says:

    I just finished reading all of the comments (going back to 2010). I can’t understand people giving info about how much they earned and asking “how much should I get back?” I also don’t understand the bashing of teen moms. I didn’t have a childhood childhood. At 14 I began babysitting & saved my wages to pay a lawyer to become emancipated from the state at age 15 (foster kid). I supported MYSELF using my job & living by myself. At 16 I became pregnant on birth control/condoms. We got married (3 yr relationship at that point) and are still married 16 years later (with 3 children total). My husband has a great job, our children are all in gifted programs…and we’ve been able to give them happy childhoods. Don’t assume all teen moms are ignorant, lazy, moochers.

  15. Momof2 says:

    Each child deduction is $1000. If your mom helped you out and supported you while you were pregnant AND after, then that money is your mom’s.
    @Proud Mom: You are 1 in a million. Most teen mothers DO end up on welfare, it’s a fact. All people should wait to have children until they are somewhat “financially stable” not just teens. It is selfish and stupid to have children when you know you can’t raise them without gov’t assistance.

  16. Carol says:

    Early stats for tax returns in 2012 have to be off somewhat because of the huge surge in tax fraud id theft. I wonder if the stats have now been corrected since the IRS has figured out the real returns.

    Anyone getting thousands in their refund is paying in too much and giving the gov’t a free loan. You’re just getting your own money back that you overpaid through the year. A lot of people use it as sort of a savings plan.

  17. Anonymous says:

    If your mom claimed you and your daughter in her income tax, that means she supported you and your child. And supporting a child is very expensive. So I think I would of kept the $600.00 and use it to continue supporting you and your child..

  18. You are 21 and an adult and have the right to ask this question without judgement. I do agree that your mother deserves extra income for taking care of you and your child. Now, on the other hand, I dont think it would be right for her to disclose the amount she got back from claiming you and your child. $600, doesn’t sound right at all. My mother helped me out by claiming my child on her taxes in recent years and the times she did it averaged 3,000 each time. My mother made very good money, so I’m a little confused by the making too much money theory. I would confront her,or be sneaky and go to IRS.Gov and find out how much she is getting for real!

  19. just now noticed this was posted 2012. If you have the same question this year, then I will have the same answer.


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