After weeks of worry, Americans' tax refunds are finally trending up

  • The average tax-refund amount was down significantly from last year during the first three weeks of the 2019 tax season.
  • Democratic lawmakers blamed the GOP tax-cut law for the decrease, and many Americans expressed outrage online about receiving smaller refunds.
  • But the latest IRS data indicated the average refund is now up 1.3% compared with 2018.

After three weeks of hand-wringing, some Americans got good news about the size of their tax refunds.

52 PHOTOS
Average tax refund in every U.S. state
See Gallery
Average tax refund in every U.S. state

Texas

Average refund: $3,206

Number of refunds: 10,087,693

Total income tax refunded: $32.3 billion

Louisiana

Average refund: $3,115

Number of refunds: 1,611,412

Total income tax refunded: $5 billion

Connecticut

Average refund: $3,099

Number of refunds: 1,396,609

Total income tax refunded: $4.3 billion

Oklahoma

Average refund: $3,098

Number of refunds: 1,300,577

Total income tax refunded: $4 billion

New York

Average refund: $3,059

Number of refunds: 7,712,210

Total income tax refunded: $23.6 billion

New Jersey

Average refund: $3,013

Number of refunds: 3,479,321

Total income tax refunded: $10.5 billion

Wyoming

Average refund: $2,989

Number of refunds: 214,649

Total income tax refunded: $641.6 million

North Dakota 

Average refund: $2,983

Number of refunds: 277,422

Total income tax refunded: $827.4 million

Florida

Average refund: $2,933

Number of refunds: 7,854,538

Total income tax refunded: $23 billion

Mississippi

Average refund: $2,922

Number of refunds: 1,018,429

Total income tax refunded: $2.97 billion

California

Average refund: $2,911

Number of refunds: 13,594,703

Total income tax refunded: $39.5 billion

Washington D.C.

Average refund: $2,900

Number of refunds: 277,399

Total income tax refunded: $804.5 million

Illinois

Average refund: $2,900

Number of refunds: 4,973,653

Total income tax refunded: $14.4 billion

Maryland

Average refund: $2,861

Number of refunds: 2,329,288

Total income tax refunded: $6.7 billion

Massachusetts

Average refund: $2,850

Number of refunds: 2,704,250

Total income tax refunded: $7.7 billion

Alaska

Average refund: $2,843

Number of refunds: 276,887

Total income tax refunded: $787 million

Nevada

Average refund: $2,830

Number of refunds: 1,111,952

Total income tax refunded: $3 billion

Georgia

Average refund: $2,832

Number of refunds: 3,606,774

Total income tax refunded: $10.2 billion

Alabama

Average refund: $2,802

Number of refunds: 1,650,125

Total income tax refunded: $4.6 billion

Virginia

Average refund: $2,771

Number of refunds: 3,129,030

Total income tax refunded: $8.7 billion

Arkansas

Average refund: $2,759

Number of refunds: 989,288

Total income tax refunded: $2.7 billion

Tennessee

Average refund: $2,726

Number of refunds: 2,465,816

Total income tax refunded: $6.7 billion

Utah

Average refund: $2,681

Number of refunds: 1,033,141

Total income tax refunded: $2.8 billion

Washington

Average refund: $2,681

Number of refunds: 2,749,362

Total income tax refunded: $7.4 billion

Arizona

Average refund: $2,672

Number of refunds: 2,244,925

Total income tax refunded: $6 billion

Kansas

Average refund: $2,665

Number of refunds: 1,044,275

Total income tax refunded: $2.8 billion

New Mexico 

Average refund: $2,657

Number of refunds: 724,549

Total income tax refunded: $1.9 billion

South Dakota

Average refund: $2,651

Number of refunds: 321,372

Total income tax refunded: $852 million

West Virginia

Average refund: $2,649

Number of refunds: 649,049

Total income tax refunded: $1.7 billion

Kentucky

Average refund: $2,648

Number of refunds: 1,590,274

Total income tax refunded: $4.2 billion

Delaware

Average refund: $2,648

Number of refunds: 365,749

Total income tax refunded: $968.4 million

Rhode Island

Average refund: $2,643

Number of refunds: 436,490

Total income tax refunded: $1.1 billion

Pennsylvania

Average refund: $2,643

Number of refunds: 5,071,264

Total income tax refunded: $13.4 billion

Colorado

Average refund: $2,636

Number of refunds: 2,014,233

Total income tax refunded: $5.3 billion

North Carolina

Average refund: $2,629

Number of refunds: 3,580,471

Total income tax refunded: $9.4 billion

Nebraska

Average refund: $2,615

Number of refunds: 711,103

Total income tax refunded: $1.8 billion

Indiana

Average refund: $2,612

Number of refunds: 2,577,994

Total income tax refunded: $6.7 billion

Iowa

Average refund: $2,602

Number of refunds: 1,141,151

Total income tax refunded: $3 billion

New Hampshire

Average refund: $2,602

Number of refunds: 558,359

Total income tax refunded: $1.4 billion

Missouri

Average refund: $2,601

Number of refunds: 2,220,029

Total income tax refunded: $5.7 billion

South Carolina

Average refund: $2,569

Number of refunds: 1,719,299

Total income tax refunded: $4.4 billion

Hawaii

Average refund: $2,564

Number of refunds: 535,763

Total income tax refunded: $1.4 billion

Michigan

Average refund: $2,560

Number of refunds: 3,776,668

Total income tax refunded: $9.7 billion

Ohio

Average refund: $2,517

Number of refunds: 4,570,589

Total income tax refunded: $11.5 billion

Minnesota

Average refund: $2,516

Number of refunds: 2,112,212

Total income tax refunded: $5.3 billion

Idaho

Average refund: $2,457

Number of refunds: 561,133

Total income tax refunded: $1.4 billion

Wisconsin

Average refund: $2,436

Number of refunds: 2,236,886

Total income tax refunded: $5.4 billion

Montana

Average refund: $2,401

Number of refunds: 372,817

Total income tax refunded: $895 million

Oregon

Average refund: $2,398

Number of refunds: 1,431,924

Total income tax refunded: $3.4 billion

Vermont

Average refund: $2,392

Number of refunds: 254,192

Total income tax refunded: $608 million

Maine

Average refund: $2,336

Number of refunds: 509,896

Total income tax refunded: $1.2 billion

Average tax refund by state
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

The IRS data from the first three weeks of the tax season showed that the size of the average tax refund was down significantly compared with the same time periods in 2018. In fact, after the third week of the 2019 tax season — which ended February 15 — the average refund was just $2,640 compared with an average refund of $3,169 through the first three weeks of the 2018 filing season, a 17% decrease.

But new data from the IRS, released on Thursday, showed that the size of the average tax refund issued has not only caught up to 2018 but also surpassed it.

10 PHOTOS
10 states with the highest income tax
See Gallery
10 states with the highest income tax

10. Wisconsin

Personal income tax rate: 7.65%

9. New York

Personal income tax rate: 8.82%

8. Washington D.C. 

Personal income tax rate: 8.95%

7. Vermont

Personal income tax rate: 8.95%

6. New Jersey

Personal income tax rate: 8.97%

5. Iowa

Personal income tax rate: 8.98%

4. Minnesota

Personal income tax rate: 9.85%

3. Oregon

Personal income tax rate: 9.9%

2. Hawaii

Personal income tax rate: 11%

1. California

Personal income tax rate: 13.3%

HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

The average tax refund through the first four weeks of the tax season was $3,143, according to the data, up 1.3% from the $3,103 average refund over the same time period in 2018.

The increase, according to the Treasury Department, was because of delayed payments from two key tax credits.

"As previously stated, the increase in the weekly data is primarily due to the remainder of the Earned Income Tax Credits and Child Tax Credits being paid out this week," the Treasury said in a statement.

"Despite the higher refund average, we remind taxpayers that weekly filing season data is variable and will continue to fluctuate. We caution against drawing broad conclusions on refunds overall this early in the filing season."

The drop in refund size frustrated many Americans. Some blamed the tax-reform law, known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which was supported by President Donald Trump and Republicans. In fact, people started to use the hashtag "#GOPTaxScam" when bemoaning the smaller refunds.

While the size of a refund is not indicative of the amount that a filer pays in federal taxes, some Democratic lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, also blamed the tax-reform law for the shrinking refunds.

"Once again, American families are feeling the reality behind the empty promises of the GOP Tax Scam," Pelosi said on February 11.

But analyses show that a large majority of Americans saw a decrease in their overall tax burden for 2018 and any drop in a tax filer's refund was likely because of regulatory adjustments on how much employers were instructed to withhold from employees' paychecks.

According to Daniel Silver, an economist at JPMorgan, the catch-up in the average refund size is encouraging given the past weeks' data but not a huge win for the GOP tax law.

"It is a very favorable development for consumption to see refunds more in line with past years’ experience after seeing the significant lag in the data prior to the latest daily report," Silver wrote in a note to clients on Thursday.

"But if refund issuance is simply in line with that of recent years, this could be viewed as a disappointment given some expectations that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would lead to a jump in refunds this year."

See Also:

Sending Kids to College

TurboTax can help you take advantage of tax breaks to ease the financial burden of sending kids to college, including tax credits, tuition deductions, tax-free savings and more.

Read More

Brought to you by TurboTax.com

Summer Tax Tips

Smart tax planning happens all year round. Here are four things you can do this summer to improve your standing when tax time rolls around again.

Read More

Brought to you by TurboTax.com

Federal Tax Credit for Solar Energy

To encourage Americans to use solar power, the EPA and the Department of Energy offer tax credits for solar-powered systems.

Read More

Brought to you by TurboTax.com

Bigger, Better College Tax Credit

The American Opportunity tax credit, which replaced the Hope Scholarship credit in 2009, covers more years of college and offers bigger, better benefits to more taxpaying students or their families. Here's how the American Opportunity tax credit and Lifetime Learning credit, another helpful education tax credit, can help offset the rising cost of attending college.

Read More

Brought to you by TurboTax.com
Read Full Story
Your resource on tax filing
Tax season is here! Check out the Tax Center on AOL Finance for all the tips and tools you need to maximize your return.