In addition to the delay in the April 15 filing deadline to July 15, the statistics for the 2020 filing season got a second footnote in that some individuals who normally do not file a return did so this year to get an Economic Impact Payment (EIP). This brought the total number of returns filed as of April 17 to 115,961,000. It was still 15.5% below the 137,233,000 of the April 19, 2019 week. Returns certified are also down sharply in what would normally be the week closing the filing period.
There are likely be more returns filed next week to capture the EIP, but not for those individuals who are using the three month delay to procrastinate — even if they are getting a refund — or for those who want to put off making a tax payment until the last possible day.
The delay in filing means that the average size of a refund is rising somewhat late in the tax season. This can be attributed to those who are getting smaller refunds are less motivated to file, and therefore their refund size is not dragging down the average. In any case, tax refunds are are more likely going to go to nondiscretionary spending, paying debt, or into savings while the job market is in disarray as businesses heed government directives to stem the spread of COVID-19.
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