This is the common tax refund by way of February 3, in keeping with the IRS

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Tax season is underway, and the IRS has issued nearly 8 million refunds worth about $15.7 billion as of Feb. 3, the agency reported.

The median reimbursement amount was $1,963, compared to the median payment of $2,201 at the same point in the filing season last year. Of course, the average may change as the IRS processes millions more returns before the April 18 deadline.

While the agency warned refunds could be “slightly lower” this season, experts say it’s too early to know for sure.

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As of Feb. 3, the IRS had processed more than 16.7 million returns, up 29% from a year earlier, according to the report released last Friday. The nearly 8 million reimbursements compare to around 4.3 million in the previous year.

With nearly 85% more refunds issued, the larger number of payments could reduce the average refund size compared to last season’s payment, said Bill Smith, national director of tax technical services at CBIZ MHM’s national tax agency.

Still, “it’s difficult to jump to too many conclusions in a relatively short period of time,” said Eric Bronnenkant, head of tax at Betterment, a digital investment advisor.

The IRS expects to be more efficient this season

“I think the processing percentage is very telling,” Smith said, noting that without additional pandemic tariffs and a lower backlog of unprocessed returns, the IRS could be more efficient.

The agency kicked off tax season with a larger customer service team and improved technology as it begins to deploy its nearly $80 billion in funding approved by Congress in August.

“We’ve begun to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” wrote National Taxpayer Advocate Erin Collins in her January report to Congress. “I’m just not sure how far we have to travel before we see sunlight.”

How to get a faster tax refund

Smith said he’s excited to see how quickly refunds reach electronic notifiers this season. “That’s the only statistic people really want to know,” he said.

Typically, according to the IRS, you can expect a refund within 21 days if you file an error-free, direct deposit electronic tax return for payment.

You can avoid unnecessary delays by double-checking all the details of your return, including your address, social security number, and direct deposit details, Bronnenkant said.

You can check your refund status on the Where’s My Refund? page. Online tool or via the IRS2Go app. However, you must wait 24 hours after filing your 2022 tax return electronically and three to four days after filing your 2020 and 2021 tax returns electronically. For paper returns, it may take up to four weeks for a status update to appear.

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