Last April, President Trump bragged that, under his new tax code, not only would “you save a lot of money,” but that the filing process would be so simple, you’d be able to file on “one page, one card.”
“You’ll have a nice, simple form next year,” Trump said last April. “This will be the last year. So take pictures of it and enjoy it. This is the last time you’ll have to file a very complex and big tax form. It will be much easier starting next April.”
In fact, Americans who were counting on hundreds of dollars in tax refunds last week found themselves coming up short.
Some 30 million Americans are going to end up owing the IRS money this year, which is three million more people than owed the IRS money before the Trump administration’s tax law went into effect.
The Internal Revenue Service reports that the average refunds last week were down 8.4 percent for the first week of the tax season. The average tax refund check paid out this year has been $1,865, down almost $200 from this same time last year. Changes to the tax code also complicated payroll withholding, meaning many employers did not withhold enough and their employees now owe more taxes.
In short, filing your taxes is as convoluted as ever, arguably moreso, in this first full year under the new tax law.
As HuffPost notes, “Low-income taxpayers often file early to pocket the money as soon as possible. Many taxpayers count on the refunds to make important payments, or spend the money on things like home repairs, a vacation or a car.”
This data is only from the first week of filing, though, in a process that will continue until April 15. The IRS has urged taxpayers to keep in mind how early the season is and to file online “as the quickest way to receive their refunds.”
Edward Karl, vice president of taxation for the American Institute of CPAs, told Politico, “There are going to be a lot of unhappy people over the next month. Taxpayers want a large refund.”
Karl also told Politico that “some 71 percent of taxpayers received refunds last year worth about $3,000 on average, which represents the single largest financial transaction for the bulk of those people in a given year.”
Meanwhile, the effects of the shutdown — the longest in U.S. history — are still lingering weeks after the government was finally reopened. The number of refunds sent out by the IRS was down approximately 24 percent; the IRS was still “struggl[ing] to get up to speed after the government shutdown,” HuffPost writes. The shutdown ended only three days before filing season began.