expecting tax refunds will likely get checks that are
just as big as last year, though they may be waiting a
little longer to get their cash.
amount of tax refunds issued so far this season has
lagged behind prior yearsí pace, Goldman Sachs
economist Alec Phillips wrote in a report issued late
states said they were deliberately slowing down refund
processing amid concerns over fraud.
tax refunds dwarf those at the state level ó about
$275 billion, compared with $40 to $50 billion ó but
also appear to be lagging, Phillips said. The Internal
Revenue Service hasnít announced any fraud-related
delays but on Thursday reported a 400 percent spike in
email IRS scams this tax season, including phishing
attacks designed to trick people into providing personal
tax information or download malware.
statistics indicate that fewer Americans have filed
returns so far this year compared with last year, but
the share the agency has processed is down more,
according to the Goldman Sachs report.
number of refunds issued was down 11.9 percent compared
with last year as of Feb. 5, but by the following week
the gap had shrunk to 5.7 percent, according to IRS
size of the average refund check as of Feb. 12 was
exactly even with last yearís average. While refunds
would normally be expected to rise slightly with
inflation, the good news for consumers is the overall
amount refunded isnít likely to drop from last year,
lag could mean some spending that stores expected to see
in February will shift later in the spring, particularly
at discount stores that see more low-income customers,
who may not have savings to draw on and tend to make big
purchases around an influx of cash like a tax refund, he
a survey by the National Retail Federation suggests many
refund dollars wonít be going to retailers at all.
half of Americans surveyed said they planned to save
their refund, and 34.9 percent earmarked some for paying
down debt, the retail group said. The share planning to
save is the highest itís been since 2007, though the
percentage of people paying down debt has dropped.
it came to spending, 22 percent of people reported
planning to use refunds for everyday expenses, 9 percent
on a major purchase such as a TV or car, 11 percent on a
vacation, and 8 percent had their eye on a splurge
purchase like dining out or a trip to the spa, according
to the retail federation report.