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

I just found some data from the IRS on tax refunds, for the previous tax cycle, which I found interesting (and hope you do too).

Let’s look at the numbers.

As of November 20, 2015, 150,497,000 tax returns have been submitted.

128,784,000 of the 150,497,000 returns were e-filed (impressive). This is a 2.4% increase over last year.

And 109,171,000 of the 150,497,000 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!

Average Tax Refund

average tax refundThe math works out to just over 72.5% of all returns resulting in a refund.

The average tax refund works out to $2,952.

This means that Uncle Sam received an average of $2,952 in interest-free loans from 109,171,000 lenders (aka taxpayers), for a combined $304 billion.

Pretty ridiculous.

How does last year stack up against the historical average?

Average Historical Tax Refund:

Over time, the historical average tax refund has gone up and down, but is on a recent downward trend (my guess: incomes have slowly increased since the Great Recession). Here is a look at the last 6 years.

  • Average 2008 Refund: $2,728
  • Average 2009 Refund: $3,036
  • Average 2010 Refund: $3,003
  • Average 2011 Refund: $2,913
  • Average 2012 Refund: $2,803
  • Average 2013 Refund: $2,651
  • Average 2014 Refund: $2,952

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

And remember, if you’re expecting an outsized tax refund, you can change your withholding tax allowances 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?

Related Posts:


  1. Sarah
  2. Amanda M.
  3. Tom
  4. Jake Erickson
  5. Marcie
  6. Ted
    • Steve M
  7. AW
  8. AJ
  9. thepotatohead
  10. ~Matt~
  11. Jon D

Leave a Reply

Join 10,000+ wealth builders. Get posts emailed to you, for free.