IRS reports last-minute surge in tax filings

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The Internal Revenue Service said Tuesday it received 135.6 million returns this tax season after a late burst of tax filings in the final week.

In the week ending April 21, the IRS said it received over 17 million returns. The great majority of them, 13.6 million returns, arrived via IRS e-file.

As for the entire tax season, the IRS got 135.6 million tax returns through April 21. In combination with the onslaught of returns last week, the number of filings now approaches the number of returns from last year’s filing season.

Given the surge of mid-April filings, the number of refunds issued this year climbed to 97 million refunds, totaling $268.3 billion. The average amount of tax refunds was $2,763, up slightly from last year’s average of $2,711.

The IRS delayed tax refunds until after February 15 for taxpayers claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Additional Child Tax Credit, as mandated by the PATH Act of 2015, to give the agency extra time to scrutinize the returns for signs of identity theft or tax fraud. That delay in turn prompted millions of taxpayers and preparers to delay filing the returns, even though the IRS was accepting the filings (see IRS receiving fewer returns as of mid-season).

Taxpayers have filed 11.6 million tax extension forms this season, a 0.9 percent increase compared to the same period a year ago. The great majority of extensions were electronically filed, 9.7 million, an 11 percent increase from a year ago.

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