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Tax Season 2024: IRS Issued $3.6 Billion in Tax Refunds in the First Week

More than 2.6 million taxpayers have received a tax refund as of Feb. 2, according to the IRS.


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.

The IRS opened the 2024 tax season just two weeks ago, on Jan. 29, and taxpayers are already getting tax refund money back from the agency. 

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. 2, five days into tax filing season -- the IRS had already issued 2.6 million refunds. In comparison the IRS had sent out over 7.9 million refunds by Feb. 3, 2023. Tax season last year started 6 days earlier, however, on Jan. 23, 2023, so the IRS had a nearly a week longer to 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 and the best tax software for 2024.

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

As of Feb. 2, the IRS said it has processed 13.9 million federal income tax returns, down 16.9% from the 16.7 million it got through this time last year. With tax season starting earlier in 2023 -- Jan. 23, 2023, vs Jan. 29, 2024 -- tax filers had six more days last year to send in their tax returns.

The IRS had also received 15.3 million returns by Feb. 2, down 19.1% from the 18.8 million it received by Feb. 3, 2023.

Of the 15.3 million returns received so far, all but 409,000 were filed electronically, the IRS said -- 4.8 million from tax preparers and another 10 million from self-preparers.

How many tax refunds has the IRS issued so far? 

The IRS has issued 2.6 million refunds as of Feb. 2, down 67.3% from 7.9 million it had sent out by Feb. 3, 2023. 

In the first week of this tax year, the IRS refunded $3.6 billion -- down 76.8% from the $15.6 billion sent out by the same date last year. However, as mentioned above, the 2023 tax season began six days earlier, on Jan. 23.

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

The average refund size is also down 28.9%, from $1,963 for 2023's tax season through Feb. 3, to $1,395 for this season so far.

Of those who received refunds, 2.6 million chose direct deposit, and their refund was $1,543. In comparison, for the same time period last year, 6.9 million direct depositors had already received their return, which averaged $2,056.

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.


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