Here's the Average Tax Refund So Far in 2023

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  • The average tax refund is down 11% compared to this time last year, according to data from the IRS.
  • How much you get back depends on what tax breaks you qualify for.
  • There are steps you can take to ensure you get your largest possible refund, such as claiming every tax break you can and contributing to an IRA or HSA.

Here's how to ensure you get the most money back this year.

No one enjoys doing their taxes, but most people at least have a refund check to look forward to at the end of it. How much you get depends a lot on your annual income and which tax deductions and credits you qualify for. But it can still be useful to look at the average refund amount so you have some idea what to expect. Here's what typical tax refunds look like for the 2022 tax season so far.

Average tax refunds are down compared to last year

As of Feb. 24, 2023, nearly 46 million Americans had filed their taxes, according to the latest filing statistics available from the IRS. That's up from the number of returns filed at the same point last year. But average refunds are actually down quite a bit.

The average refund so far is $3,079. That's down over 11% from last year, when the typical taxpayer received $3,473 back from the government.

There's no way of pinpointing why tax refunds are down, and only time will tell whether they'll increase over the remaining weeks. But there are steps you can take to get your largest tax refund possible.

How to get your maximum tax refund

Here are a few things you can try to boost your 2022 tax refund and beef up your savings account.

Choose the right filing status

If you're a single adult with no dependents, choosing a tax filing status is pretty straightforward. But for others, it can be more complicated. Married couples will have to choose between filing jointly or filing separately. Jointly is usually the way to go, but there may be some cases where separate is better. Your accountant or tax filing software should ask you some questions to determine which is the better filing status for you.

If you're single with dependents, you will probably do better filing as head of household. This status enables you to earn more income before you move up to the next tax bracket than the single filing status.

Claim all tax breaks you qualify for

There are two types of tax breaks you could receive: tax deductions and tax credits. Tax deductions reduce your taxable income for the year. For example, if you earned $50,000 and qualified for a $1,000 tax deduction, the government would only tax you on the remaining $49,000.

Tax credits reduce your tax bill. So if your annual tax bill was $10,000 and you qualified for a $1,000 tax credit, you'd only owe $9,000. The more tax deductions and credits you qualify for, the larger your refund will be.

You could qualify for tax deductions and credits for things like:

  • Having a child in 2022
  • Paying for large medical bills or higher education expenses
  • Making contributions to tax-deferred retirement accounts, like a 401(k)
  • Making charitable donations
  • Putting money in a health savings account (HSA)

That's not an exhaustive list. Your tax preparer or tax filing software should ask you questions to determine which tax breaks you qualify for. Just make sure you have documents to back it up. You don't have to submit these with your tax return, but if the government audits you and you can't prove your claims, it could disallow your deductions.

Consider making prior-year IRA or HSA contributions

Those with extra money lying around could boost their tax refund and prepare for their future by making prior-year HSA or IRA contributions. The process is more or less the same as making a current-year contribution to one of these accounts. But you may need to follow up with your account provider to ensure it's applied to 2022 instead of 2023 if you want to claim the tax break now.

You cannot exceed the account's annual contribution limits for 2022 unless you want to pay penalties. IRAs, for example, only allowed you to contribute up to $6,000 in 2022 or $7,000 if you're 50 or older. So make sure your contributions throughout 2022 and your prior-year contributions don't exceed these limits.

It's easiest to complete these contributions before filing your 2022 tax return. If you wait until after, you'll have to file an amended return in order to claim this tax break.

Bottom line

If you take the above steps, you can feel pretty confident that you're getting the largest refund possible. But more important than that is ensuring your taxes are done properly. You don't want to spend any more time dealing with the IRS than you have to, so take your time and get help if you need it.

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