The last we heard on the subject, the average American’s tax refund was off 8.7 percent from last year, and people thought that augured poorly for Republicans.
Today, the news is even worse for the Grand Old Pity Party.
According to the IRS, the average refund so far this tax season is down a whopping 17 percent.
The agency released data late Friday showing refunds are down for the third consecutive week, with the typical payment made through Feb. 15 totaling $2,703, compared to $3,256 during the same period last year.
This filing season is the first under Republicans’ overhaul of the tax code, and lawmakers have already been under fire as some taxpayers find their expected refunds smaller or gone altogether. The payments are sacrosanct to many Americans who rely on them to fill holes in their budgets.
This jibes with a wealth of anecdotal evidence indicating that many people have been shellshocked over a lack of refunds this year. And angry taxpayers with horror stories often turn into motivated voters.
Of course, the administration has scrambled to explain the discrepancy, and to be fair, a lot of this has to do with people’s misunderstanding of withholding as well as other factors:
The agency typically issues a large amount of payments in February to people claiming they earned income tax credit, a wage supplement program for the working poor, as well as a tax credit for having children. That has skewed comparisons, a Treasury Department spokesperson said, because last year’s batch of data happened to include more of those payments than does this year’s.
The spokesperson also downplayed the importance of refunds, saying “most people are seeing the benefits of the tax cuts in larger paychecks throughout the year, instead of tax refunds that are the result of people overpaying the government.”
That said, Republicans attempted to use the fatter paychecks people were getting throughout the year (because of their lower withholding) for political benefit, and Donald Trump and the GOP went out of their way to target blue states that don’t vote for Republican presidents. Whether you think that was out of spite or simply out of a lack of concern for people in progressive states likely depends on how cynical you are.
Me? I’m really fucking cynical.
So, personally, I’m not that concerned that Republicans are now reaping the whirlwind.
People depend on their refunds. A lot of them aren’t getting them because of the Republican tax law.
People have started to figure this out.
Also, with the economy seemingly overdue for a recession, and Trump doing lots of Trumpish (i.e., stupid) things, this sudden reverse windfall is a potential economic stressor we simply don’t need.
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