With average tax refunds up nearly 10 percent this year, the White House has launched an online interactive Tax Savings Tool to help taxpayers take advantage of Recovery Act tax credits.

The new tool, available at www.WhiteHouse.gov/Recovery, takes users through a questionnaire about their filing status, salary range, recent home purchases, college expenses, and other questions relating to various tax credits provided through the Recovery Act. Vice President Joe Biden joined Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman in announcing the new tool.

“The big guys know all the credits and deductions to claim during tax season, but we want middle-class families to know just how much is out there for them this year thanks to the Recovery Act and how to take advantage of it,” said Biden in a statement. “From help with college expenses to credits for cost-saving, energy-efficiency home improvements, these Recovery Act tax credits not only provide some needed relief for working Americans, but also help them invest in their families’ futures.”

According to early data from the IRS, the average income tax refund is up more than $260 — a 9.6 percent increase over last year — due in large part to the Recovery Act.  The average refund through March 12, 2010, is $3,036, an increase of $266 compared to the same time a year ago. This is a sign that people are taking advantage of the Recovery Act tax savings this year.

However, data show that less than half of the overall expected returns have been filed. The Obama administration plans to hold a series of events across the country leading up to the April 15 tax-filing deadline to help educate taxpayers on the Recovery Act benefits available to them when they file their taxes this year.

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