2019 Tax Tracker #2: Year-over-Year Decline in Tax Filings Starts to Moderate

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Key Points

The U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tracks tax return filings on a weekly basis.

  • As of February 8, the IRS had received 28.8 million tax returns, down 6.9% year over year. 
  • A total of 11.4 million refunds had been issued as of that date (down 15.8% year over year), totaling $22.2 billion (down 23.2% year over year) and averaging $1,949 (down 8.7% year over year).
  • The drop is in returns filed is likely due to confusion from tax law changes, combined with reduced availability of IRS agents due to the government shutdown. Given a solid U.S. economy, higher wages and employment rates, total refunds are likely to be higher in 2019, once the disruption from the government shutdown is resolved.

Each year, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) reports tax return filings and refunds on a weekly basis, starting in February and going into the April 15 filing deadline. It is still early in the filing season, so there will likely be more variability to the data. Filings are likely delayed due to confusion over the new tax rates and the government shutdown, which made it difficult for accountants to get answers to help people prepare income tax returns.

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