Average tax refunds are up 19% this week, now at 2018 levels

Average tax refunds are up 19% from last week, making them consistent with last year’s levels, the Department of the Treasury announced Thursday.

Economists at a few major banks were getting nervous that their forecasts of a solid $20 billion bump over last year’s refunds would result in solid retail and discretionary spending numbers come tax season. The bump, according to the Treasury, comes from many Earned Income Tax Credits and Child Tax Credits being paid out this week.

In fact, the IRS noted that the average refund is now 1.3% ahead of last year, with 47.7 million returns in so far, representing $121 billion back to taxpayers, compared with $126 billion returns in 2018. 

RELATED: Take a look at the states where taxpayers pay the most in person income tax: 

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States where Americans pay the highest in state income taxes
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States where Americans pay the highest in state income taxes

California

State income tax: 1% to 13.3% 

Maine

State income tax: 5.8% to 10.15%

Oregon

State income tax: 5% to 9.9%

Minnesota

State income tax: 5.35% to 9.85%

Iowa

State income tax: 0.36% to 8.98%

New Jersey

State income tax: 1.4% to 8.97%

Vermont

State income tax: 3.55% to 8.95%

Washington, DC

State income tax: 4% to 8.95%

New York

State income tax: 4% to 8.82%

Hawaii

State income tax: 1.4% to 8.25%

Wisconsin

State income tax: 4% to 7.65%

Idaho

State income tax: 1.6% to 7.4%

South Carolina

State income tax: 0% to 7%

Connecticut

State income tax: 3% to 6.99%

Arkansas

State income tax: 0.9% to 6.9%

Montana

State income tax: 1% to 6.9%

Nebraska

State income tax: 2.46% to 6.84%

Delaware

State income tax: 2.2% to 6.6%

West Virginia

State income tax: 3% to 6.5%

Georgia

State income tax: 1% to 6%

Kentucky

State income tax: 2% to 6%

Louisiana

State income tax: 2% to 6%

Missouri

State income tax: 1.5% to 6%

Rhode Island

State income tax: 3.75% to 5.99%

Maryland

State income tax: 2% to 5.75%

North Carolina

State income tax: 5.75%

Virginia

State income tax: 2% to 5.75%

Oklahoma

State income tax: 0.5% to 5.25%

Massachusetts

State income tax: 5.1%

Alabama

State income tax: 2% to 5%

Mississippi

State income tax: 3% to 5%

Utah

State income tax: 5%

Ohio

State income tax: 0.495% to 4.997%

New Mexico

State income tax: 1.7% to 4.9%

Colorado

State income tax: 4.63%

Kansas

State income tax: 2.7% to 4.6%

Arizona

State income tax: 2.59% to 4.54%

Michigan

State income tax: 4.25%

Illinois

State income tax: 3.75%

Indiana

State income tax: 3.3%

Pennsylvania

State income tax: 3.07%

North Dakota

State income tax: 1.1% to 2.9%

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“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,” economists from JPMorgan wrote in a note 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.”

There had been recent reports of lower-than-average refunds this year for a variety of reasons, from not enough withholding, the elimination of the state and local tax deduction, and other factors.

Still, the Treasury cautions against drawing broad conclusions on tax refunds too early, and pointed to the difference between a tax liability and a tax refund (which are different things). Tax liability is the total amount you pay, and tax refund is how much you get back if you overpay.

While most taxpayers will have a lower overall tax bill this year because of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, improperly adjusted withholding tables resulted in many people’s employers not taking out enough money each paycheck to cover taxes.

Ethan Wolff-Mann is a writer at Yahoo Finance focusing on consumer issues, personal finance, retail, airlines, and more. Follow him on Twitter @ewolffmann.

More from Yahoo Finance: 
Tax refunds are behind our forecast: UBS 
Here’s why gas prices can vary so much over short distances 
GOP senator: Your smaller tax refund is not the point

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