The Average Tax Refund is Way Higher Than You Think

average tax refund
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Tax Day sucks hard — hard enough that some of us would happily scrub Chipotle toilets for three years to avoid going through it ever again.

But for many taxpayers, the confusing and time-consuming preparation of tax documents has a very real payoff: a tax refund.

And according to this new WalletHub study, it’s likely much bigger than any of us at The Penny Hoarder would have imagined.

Who Knew the Average Tax Refund Was This High?

How big of a refund are you expecting this year? Are you expecting one at all?

If you’re self-employed or a freelancer, you might end up owing the government money instead — a lot of money, if you’re not careful.

But Tax Day is a much kinder mistress to most of us, apparently.

According to the survey, 70% of filers can expect a refund — and that refund amounts to $2,945, on average.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never gotten a $3,000 refund. Dang.

You could use that $3,000 in a lot of great ways.

I, for one, would deposit it directly into my emergency fund — it would pay my rent for almost six months.

If you’ve racked up any revolving credit card debt, a windfall like this one should go toward paying it off without even a second thought.

And it sure would be nice to have an extra $3,000 to throw at your student loans or to seed your freelancing startup costs, am I right?

Some of our other favorite weird statistics from the study:

  • The average filer will spend 16 hours wrestling with her 1040. Ugh.
  • Since we’re so well prepared, each of us only has a 0.8% chance of being audited by the IRS this year.
  • The tax code is 4 million words long — that’s double the length of all five “Game of Thrones” books combined.
  • To make matters even more complicated, that code has undergone 4,107 changes… since 2014.

Good thing your chance of being audited is so low, since it’s basically impossible to know all the laws.

Ready for Your Tax Refund?

Getting any kind of refund is nice — although the trade-off on that windfall is the knowledge that you’ve basically given the government an interest-free loan.

Still, we’ve got some resources to help you maximize your chances of a refund.

Here are nine deductions for parents you might not know about — and the answers to lots of difficult questions surrounding write-offs and credits for freelancers.

And if you’re still knee-deep in the process of filing (goodbye, weekend!), this might be a little late — but next year, here’s where to turn for free tax help.

Your Turn: Are you getting a tax refund? Is it more or less than the national average?

Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links. We’re letting you know because it’s what Honest Abe would do. After all, he is on our favorite coin.

Jamie Cattanach is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She also writes poetry, which has been featured in “DMQ Review,” “Sweet: A Literary Confection” and elsewhere. Follow along at

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