The 2019 tax season in numbers

Questions about how many tax refunds were being issued, and in what amounts, turned early-season filing statistics into a political football — but many of the concerns raised ended up disappearing in the latest data available from the Internal Revenue Service (as of April 26, 2019).

That said, the impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on tax season is pervasive and much in evidence in many of the statistics below — just not always in the way different sides of the aisle might expect.

2019 tax season stats - total returns filed
The overall number of tax returns received and processed by the IRS remained roughly even with 2018.
2019 tax season stats - returns filed by week
This year's season got off to a slightly slower start than 2018's, as measured in tax returns received by the IRS, but caught up by the beginning of April.
2019 tax season stats - efiling
While many had thought the complexities of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act might drive more clients to professional preparers, returns e-filed by pros held more or less steady, and self-prepared e-filings rose by 4.2 percent over the previous year, presumably driven by the increase in the standard deduction.
2019 tax season stats - total number of refunds
Refunds were a major issue, but by the end of the season it was clear that overall, the number of overall refunds had remained steady.
2019 tax season stats - average final refund
There was a very modest decline in the size of the average refund issued — it was off 1.5 percent for all refunds and down 2.3 percent for direct deposit refunds. Presumably most of that small decline was attributable to more money going in to employees' paychecks each period due to new withholding tables issued as a result of the TCJA.
2019 tax season stats - Average refund by week
What sparked the initial debate about refund size were the significant differences between 2018 refunds and 2019 refunds in the first few weeks of tax season — but those large gaps closed almost entirely by the end of February.
2019 tax season stats - total refund amount
With the average refund off slightly from 2018, it's no surprise that the total amount of refunds issued would be down, too — by just 2.1 percent overall. Interestingly, the total of direct deposit refunds was pretty much flat.
2019 tax season stats - visits to
Perhaps the greatest impact of the TCJA can be seen in the number of visits to over the course of this tax season — it was up 8.6 percent over 2018.