The average tax refund is up 3% to $3,034 so far this year, the Internal Revenue Service said Thursday. The average refund for those who get direct deposit is slightly higher at $3,096.
Surveys show most Americans plan to use their refund toward paying down debt, though an Edward Jones survey of more than 1,000 adults found those between 18 and 34 were the most likely to say they planned to spend their refund on shopping or going out.
Betsey Buckingham, a tax specialist with CPA firm David C. Murray and Co., in Troy, Ohio, says she's noticed more clients are qualifying for the earned income tax credit, giving them higher refunds.
A lot of the people that we've serviced, we've seen several of them lose their job and get a different job or different combination of jobs and they're underemployed, Buckingham says. So they're not making as much as they were and all the sudden they're qualifying.
The earned income tax credit is meant for lower income filers. If you qualify, it reduces your tax liability and often results in a refund.
People that expect the earned income tax credit push to file because they want to get their money back, Buckingham says.
More Americans are preparing their own tax returns and filing electronically this season, the IRS data show.
The IRS has also processed more tax returns this year than at the same point last year, up nearly 11%. A month into filing season, the government has received nearly 40% of the total returns it expects to receive for 2014.