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Tax Filers Are Seeing Smaller Refunds on Average in 2019 (So Far)

With 2019 tax season well underway, many people who filed early are seeing slightly smaller refunds than in previous years, according to Internal Revenue Service statistics for the week of Feb. 1, 2019.

Tax refunds from the first filing week of 2019 are down an average of 8.4% from the same period in 2018. The decrease, from $2,035 down to $1,865, is considered by some experts to be an early predictor of what may be ahead in the coming weeks. The IRS also received fewer returns in the first week of February 2019 than in the same period in 2018, and processed fewer returns as well.

Even as the 2019 tax season progresses, it is still difficult to know exactly what to expect. Passed in 2017, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has ushered in more changes to the tax code than any other such bill in the past 30 years. And with the record-length government shutdown not all that distant in the rearview, its impacts may continue to be felt. However, another partial shutdown seems unlikely—at least, according to one member of the bipartisan committee tasked with reaching a deal on border wall funding. Tennessee Rep. Chuck Fleischmann said chances of another shutdown are “next to nil” and that, “In this situation, there is no appetite on either side of the aisle and I think in either chamber for another partial government shutdown.”