It’s officially tax season, and from the looks of things, the GOP’s much-touted tax plan is already starting to mess with people’s refund rates in a pretty bad way. Are you shocked? I’m not.
According to data released by the IRS last week, both return rates and—more importantly—actual refunds themselves have dropped precipitously over the first few months of 2019 when compared with last year. Per CNBC (emphasis mine):
The total number of returns received in the week ending Feb. 1, 16.04 million, was down 12.4 percent from the week that ended on Feb. 2, 2018. Only 13.31 million returns were processed, down 25.8 percent from the year before. The average refund of $1,865 was 8.4 percent smaller than the average refund in the period last year.
What’s changed between last tax season and this one? The GOP tax bill, of course. And here I could have sworn Republicans were certain their astronomically expensive tax bill would help normal, non-millionaire Americans, and that it definitely was not a trillion-dollar scam that would fleece the working and middle classes in order to put a few extra bucks in the already-cash-stuffed pockets of the ultra-wealthy.
Perhaps sensing that “getting less money” probably won’t play well among the not-fabulously-wealthy hoi polloi, the Trump administration’s Treasury Department has already begun pushing back against the lousy data, calling it “misleading.”
In a brief statement released the same day as the IRS data, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin ignored the bad news, saying simply that tax filing season “has successfully launched with millions of tax returns having been filed,” and thanking the federal workers “who have been working diligently to ensure the system is processing these returns efficiently.”
It remains to be seen whether the trend of diminishing tax returns will hold throughout the entire filing season (taxes are due April 15, so we’ve got some time). But for the 13 million or so people who’ve already noticed a loss to the tune of about 8 percent, the impact of the GOP’s slow-moving financial catastrophe is already here.