Despite the late start to tax season, the Internal Revenue Service had issued more tax refunds as of the middle of the season than it had last year, and generally kept pace with the prior season, according to a government report.

The report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration found that by March 7, the IRS had issued $164.6 billion in refunds, almost $10 billion more than at the same time last year. It also issued almost 2 million more refunds than last year, on roughly the same number of total returns received (just a little over 67.1 million).

While the figures generally indicate that this tax season was either keeping pace with or a little ahead of last year, it should be noted that last year’s tax season also started late, and many forms were not available until early March.

The IRS pushed back the start of this filing season from January 21 of this year to January 31 following the 16-day government shutdown at the beginning of October 2013, which delayed preparatory work on various systems.

Among the other findings of the report (all data as of March 7, except as noted):

  • The total of practitioner-prepared returns was down by 2.2 percent, while returns filed from home were up 5.8 percent, and Free File returns were up 12.2 percent (matching the trends separately reported by the IRS).
  • E-filing was up one percentage point, to 92.6 percent of all returns.
  • The IRS expected to help 5.6 million taxpayers through its Taxpayer Assistance Centers – a million fewer than last year.
  • As of February 28, the IRS has identified and confirmed just over 28,000 fraudulent tax returns involving ID theft, and over 57,000 returns with fraudulent refund claims, preventing the issuance of $336 million in fraudulent refunds.
  • Split refunds are growing in popularity, with 585,331 taxpayers splitting more than $2.6 billion in refunds across multiple accounts.
  • TIGTA will issue the final results of its review of the 2014 filing season in September.

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