The Internal Revenue Service said that taxpayers are filing their taxes earlier and receiving larger refunds so far this year, citing early filing season statistics.

As of Feb. 27, 2009, the IRS had received 56 million individual tax returns, a slight increase over last year. The average individual refund has been $2,869, a 9 percent increase, or $232 more than the same time last year.

The IRS noted some possible reasons for the larger refunds. Taxpayers could be benefiting from the recovery rebate credit and other tax breaks such as the first-time homebuyer credit and the additional standard deduction for real estate taxes. The average refund amount generally will decrease slightly as the filing season progresses.

More taxpayers chose to receive their refunds through direct deposit this year. As of Feb. 27, more than 84 percent of all refunds were issued through direct deposit, up from 81 percent for the same period last year. On Feb. 27, the average direct deposit refund totaled $3,063.

The IRS cautioned that year-to-year analysis of total returns filed will be anomalous this year because last year’s results include those returns filed for the economic stimulus payment. As the year progresses, the IRS expects to receive and process more individual income tax returns during 2009 than in 2007, but fewer than in 2008.

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