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Average Tax Refund Up 130% Since Start of 2024 Tax Season. Here's What to Know

The average refund size is continuing to climb this tax season. And the dollar amount should only get bigger, thanks to the EITC and the CTC refunds now going out.

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Mary-Elisabeth Combs Associate Writer
Mary-Elisabeth is an associate writer on CNET's How-To team. She's a recent graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill's English Department, and resides in Charlotte, North Carolina. On the How-To team, she covers a little bit of everything. When she's not writing, she's catching up on Formula 1 or reading.
Mary-Elisabeth Combs
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The IRS has received over 44 million tax returns so far this tax season.

James Martin/CNET

The 2024 tax season is a month old now, having kicked off on Jan. 29, and the amount of tax refund money the IRS has sent is picking up, even though the total number of refunds sent so far in 2024 is lagging the same period in 2023.

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Taxpayers can normally expect to receive a refund within 21 days if they file electronically and choose direct deposit, the IRS said. But by Feb. 23, four weeks into tax filing season, the IRS had issued more than 28.9 million refunds. By comparison, the IRS had sent out over 35.1 million refunds by Feb. 24, 2023. Tax season last year started six days earlier, however, on Jan. 23, so the IRS had nearly a week longer to receive and process tax returns and send refunds.

Here's how the IRS is doing this year. For more on taxes, check out our essential 2024 tax filing cheat sheet, how to track your refund with the IRS and the best tax software for 2024.

How many tax returns has the IRS processed so far in 2024? 

As of Feb. 23, the IRS said it had processed 44 million federal income tax returns, down by 3.6% from the 45.7 million it got through this time last year. With tax season starting earlier in 2023 -- Jan. 23 versus Jan. 29 -- filers had six more days last year to send in their tax returns.

The IRS had also received 44.5 million returns by Feb. 23, down only 3% from the 45.9 million it received by Feb. 17, 2023.

Of the 44.5 million returns received so far, just over 43.5 million of those were filed electronically, the IRS said -- 19.2 million from professional tax preparers and another 24.3 million from self-preparers.

How many tax refunds has the IRS issued so far? 

The IRS has issued more than 28.9 million refunds as of Feb. 23, down by 17.6% from the 35.1 million it had sent out by Feb. 24, 2023. 

In the first three weeks of this tax year, the IRS refunded over $92.9 billion -- down by 14.1% from the $108.2 billion sent out by Feb. 24 last year. Again, the 2023 tax season began six days earlier.

How do 2024's tax refunds stack up to 2023's so far?

The average refund size is up by 4.3%, from $3,079 for 2023's tax season through Feb. 24, to $3,213 for this season through Feb. 23. 

And the average tax refund amount has grown 130% since the start of the 2024 tax season. The average tax refund for the week ending Feb. 2 was $1,395.

While last week's refund size did slightly increase, it's also important to know that 2023's refund numbers were down this time last year, contributing to the 4.3% increase we are seeing this week. 

While the average refund size is up so far compared to the same time last year, the IRS told CNET that making year-to-date comparisons can be tricky because of how much earlier it started last year. The agency did say the 2024 tax season is off to a strong start, with all systems running well. 

Of those who received refunds, 28.3 million chose direct deposit, and their refund was $3,272. By comparison, for the same time period last year, 33.3 million direct depositors had already received their return, which averaged $3,170.

For more, here are the dates you need to know to get you through this tax season. For more on taxes, here's how to set up an account on the IRS website and what to know about this year's child tax credit.