Why Your Tax Refund Could Be Higher This Year

The average tax refund amount is higher this year than last filing season. How does yours compare?

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(Image credit: Getty Images)

The latest IRS data show that the average federal tax refund is approximately $3,182. That’s more than $140 (5.1%) higher than it was at this time last year. But that doesn’t mean everyone will get a bigger tax refund from the IRS this year. Here are some reasons your refund could be more — or less — than last year.

2024 tax refund

IRS inflation-adjusted amounts could partially account for higher refunds in 2024. For example, 2023 standard deduction amounts increased by more than 6%, and federal income tax brackets also increased, so taxpayers who received only small raises (or none at all) may see a big difference in their 2023 tax liability when they file.

Families with lower incomes could see a significant increase in refund amounts too, even if they don’t benefit from the higher standard deduction. The maximum earned income tax credit (EITC) amount increased by nearly $500 for the 2023 tax year. And because the credit is 100% refundable, eligible taxpayers could receive the entire amount (up to $7,430) back as a tax refund.

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What about the child tax credit? If the new child tax credit (CTC) becomes law this year, some families could receive even more money back as a tax refund.

However, the bipartisan tax bill, which includes an expansion to the CTC, is currently stalled in the Senate. So, there is no guarantee that the bill will become law before the end of the 2024 filing season — if at all.

What could cause a lower tax refund? There are several reasons your federal tax refund could be less this year.

  • If your dependent child turned 17 in 2023, they won’t qualify for the CTC.
  • Other major events, such as getting a divorce or an adult dependent moving out of the home, can decrease your refund amount.
  • If you (or a spouse if filing jointly) had a significant increase in income, you could be disqualified from claiming certain credits.
  • Underpaying when you made estimated tax payments for 2023 will increase your tax liability when you file.

There are many more reasons you could see your tax refund decrease (or your tax bill increase) in 2024. So, you may see a difference in your refund this year, even if none of the above events apply.

IRS refund schedule 

While several “IRS refund schedules” are available online, the dates on those schedules are estimates. Some tax returns take longer to process than others, and several things, including incomplete returns and refunds that need adjusting, can cause processing delays. 

However, the IRS issues refunds for most e-filed returns within three weeks. (Processing can take up to eight weeks for paper returns). E-filing and choosing to receive your refund via direct deposit remain the best options for receiving your refund sooner. You can begin checking the status of your tax return with ‘Where’s My Refund’ within 24 hours of IRS acceptance.

Where's my refund

To access the "Where's My Refund" tool, you need to enter your Social Security number or individual taxpayer identification number (TIN), the filing status used on your federal income tax return, and the exact whole dollar refund amount shown on your return. You can use either spouse's Social Security number if you filed a joint return. 

'Where's My Refund' is only updated once per day  —  usually at night  —  so there's no need to check your status more often than that.

For more information see: Where's My Refund? How to Track Your Tax Refund Status.

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Katelyn Washington
Tax Writer

Katelyn has more than 6 years’ experience working in tax and finance. While she specializes in tax content, Katelyn has also written for digital publications on topics including insurance, retirement and financial planning and has had financial advice commissioned by national print publications. She believes that knowledge is the key to success and enjoys helping others reach their goals by providing content that educates and informs.