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Tax returns, refunds running behind last year's levels

Since the 2013 filing season started eight days later than planned, it's no surprise that fewer tax returns have been submitted and processed than last year.

The delay also is affecting refunds.

The Internal Revenue Service reports that as of the week ending March 29, it had received 88 million returns, almost 4 percent less than at the end of March 2012.

In connection with the filings through March, 72.2 million refunds totalling $201.5 billion were issued. Those figures are down 4.1 percent and 5.3 percent, respectively.

As for the refund amount, that's also less this year than in 2012. By the end of last month, the average tax refund was $2,790.

2790 dollars average refund amount through 03-29-2013

That's 1.3 percent less than the end-of-March-2012 amount. It's also this week's By the Numbers figure.

2013 education form issues: Part of the reason the refunds are a bit smaller -- in case you don't want to do the math, 2012's average refund at the same point was $2,826 -- is that many filers who are expecting refunds had to wait for forms to be updated.

That was the case for those claiming the American Opportunity tax credit.

Not only did education tax break claimants have to wait until February 14 for Form 8863 to become available -- remember, the IRS itself had to wait on Congress, which didn't pass tax legislation affecting 2012 returns until Jan. 2, 2013 -- but then mistakes on some of the American Opportunity claims further delayed processing and associated refunds.

A couple of 2013 increases: There are, however, a couple data areas where the 2013 filing season is ahead of last year.

More than 31 million taxpayers have prepared and e-filed their taxes on their own this year. That's 2 percent more than at this point in 2012.

And the IRS is doing a booming online information business.

The tax agency has recorded almost 236 million visits to through the first three months of this year. That's a 24.4 percent increase in website visits over 2012 at this time.

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People are failing to get there tax returns because they don't understand the process , there should be more advice out there !


It will be interesting to see if the delay results in a significant number of tax filing extensions and consequential secondary rush in October.

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