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irsThe Internal Revenue Service and many industry observers expected returns filed this year would exceed 2016 totals by 1 percent. Instead, the total fell .7-percent short as a last minute surge of 135.6 million returns did not overcome the gap between this year through April 21 and last year's corresponding period as efiled returns from paid professionals dropped but the self-prepared total rose slightly.


Last year, the gap was overcome by the late filers and pushed the season ahead of 2015 by .9 percent for the week ended April 22 for the first time that season. By the time the week of Dec. 2, 2016 ended, the total returns received were up 1 percent.

It look as though the 2017 season would repeat the pattern and it appears that the tendency towards late filing is the new norm, no matter the result. Instead, the 135,638,000 returns through the most recent IRS report fell short of 136,528,000 filed a year earlier.

There were 122,164,000 efiled returns through April 21, down .3 percent from 122,546,000 a year earlier. The drop came from efiles prepared by tax professionals, which fell to 70,401,000, down .7 percent from 70,864,000. There were 51,763,000 self-prepared efiles, an increase of .2 percent from 51,682,000. And that totally is probably attributable solely to Intuit whose sales of TurboTax units were up 2 percent.

As was the case for the entire season, the only other set of statistics to rise involved refunds. The IRS sent out slightly less than $268.3 billion, an increase of 1.9 percent from just under $263.2 billion last year. The average refund grew 1.9 percent to $2,763 from $2,711.

The size of direct deposit of returns showed even stronger growth. Direct deposits for the most recently ended reporting period hit 81,646,000, up .7 percent from 81,221,000 a year earlier. The IRS refunded $239.41 billion up 2.2 percent from$234.27 billion. The average refund in this category was $2,932, a 1.7-percent increase from $2,884 the prior year.

Bob Scott
Bob Scott has provided information to the tax and accounting community since 1991, first as technology editor of Accounting Today, and from 1997 through 2009 as editor of its sister publication, Accounting Technology. He is known throughout the industry for his depth of knowledge and for his high journalistic standards.  Scott has made frequent appearances as a speaker, moderator and panelist and events serving tax and accounting professionals. He  has a strong background in computer journalism as an editor with two former trade publications, Computer+Software News and MIS Week and spent several years with weekly and daily newspapers in Morris County New Jersey prior to that.  A graduate of Indiana University with a degree in journalism, Bob is a native of Madison, Ind
Last modified on Tuesday, 02 May 2017
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