Average Tax Refund: How Does This Year Stack Up to the Historical Average?

Here is some intriguing data from the IRS on tax refunds, for the most recent tax year (2022), which I found interesting (and hope you do too).

Let’s look at the numbers:

  • As of December 29, 2023, 162,037,000 tax returns were submitted for the year.
  • 150,141,000 of the 162,037,000 returns, or 92.6%, of returns were e-filed (impressive).
  • And 105,734,000 of the 162,037,000 returns received refunds (not impressive).

You know what that means…

It looks like Tax Refund Windfall Syndrome (TRWS) got the best of us once again!

The Average Tax Refund in the U.S. in 2023 (for the 2022 Tax Year):

That math works out to just over 65.3% of all returns resulting in a refund.

The average tax refund works out to $3,145 in 2023, a decrease of $148 over the previous year.

This means that Uncle Sam received an average of $3,145 in interest-free loans from 105,734,000 lenders (aka taxpayers), for a combined $334.86 billion. What a waste!

How does last year stack up against the historical average?

average tax refund

The Average Historical Tax Refund in the U.S.:

Over time, the historical average tax refund has gone up and down, but here is a look at the last number of years.

  • Average 2008 Tax Refund: $2,728
  • Average 2009 Tax Refund: $3,036
  • Average 2010 Tax Refund: $3,003
  • Average 2011 Tax Refund: $2,913
  • Average 2012 Tax Refund: $2,803
  • Average 2013 Tax Refund: $2,651
  • Average 2014 Tax Refund: $2,952
  • Average 2015 Tax Refund: $2,793
  • Average 2016 Tax Refund: $2,857
  • Average 2017 Tax Refund: $2,899
  • Average 2018 Tax Refund: $2,979
  • Average 2019 Tax Refund: $2,620
  • Average 2020 Tax Refund: $2,879
  • Average 2021 Tax Refund: $3,293
  • Average 2022 Tax Refund: $3,145

If you’re looking to dig in further to some data, check out the IRS individual income tax database.

If you received a refund, put it to good use! Here are the best ways to use your tax refund, in order to get a strong ROI.

And remember, if you’re expecting a large tax refund, you can change your withholding tax with Form W-4 to increase your withholding, and owe more taxes at the end of the year. It may seem counter-intuitive, that sending a check or getting a smaller one is good, but that is the case.

Tax Refund Discussion:

  • What was your tax refund this year? Were you happy, sad, indifferent?
  • Do you aim to decrease/increase your refund next year?

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