Tax Refunds Rebound, Gain Traction on Last Year’s Numbers; Neal Wants Form 1040 Answers

Tax refunds this filing season have rebounded after a slow start, now averaging higher than last year’s figures. The average tax refund this year through February 22 was $3,143, marking a 1.3 percent increase from last year, according to IRS data released on February 28.

Many Democratic lawmakers have blamed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) (P.L. 115-97) for tax refunds averaging smaller at the start of the filing season. However, smaller refunds are actually good news, according to Treasury and several top Republican lawmakers. “Smaller refunds mean that people are withholding appropriately based on their tax liability, which is positive news for taxpayers,” a Treasury spokesperson previously told Wolters Kluwer.

Tax Filing Season Oversight

In related news, the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee announced on February 28 that it has scheduled a March 7 hearing to examine this year’s tax filing season. National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson is expected to testify.

Neal Wants Form 1040 Answers

Meanwhile, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., has “demanded” answers from IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig related to IRS Form 1040, as noted in Neal’s February 28 press release. Neal and Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee Chairman John Lewis, D-Ga., expressed concern in a February 27 letter to Rettig that the IRS will not have provided certain information by the original deadline previously set forth by the lawmakers in a February 14 letter.

Neal and Lewis have twice now requested various information related to third-party analysis on the new Form 1040 and its six schedules. As indicated in the second letter, the lawmakers expect a response from the IRS by March 7. Notably, March 7 is also the scheduled date of the Oversight subcommittee hearing on the 2019 tax filing season.

By Jessica Jeane, Senior News Editor

2019 Filing Season Statistics for Week Ending February 22, 2019, can be located here.

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