What’s the average tax refund in your state?

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To honor Americans’ annual ritual of squaring up with Uncle Sam, LendingTree researchers analyzed the latest IRS data to see which states’ taxpayers got the biggest average refunds — and which saw the smallest. We also looked at where taxpayers owe the most.

The average refund for tax year 2019 — the latest available data that includes all returns — was $3,651, just slightly below the average refund of $3,660 in tax year 2018.

Some Americans look forward to getting a big tax refund after overpaying throughout the year. With rising gas prices and inflation, a tax refund could be a good opportunity to get a much-needed financial pick-me-up.

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Key findings

  • Three-quarters of U.S. taxpayers received a refund for tax year 2019 — the latest available data — at an average of $3,651. That’s nearly identical to the $3,660 average for tax year 2018.
  • Taxpayers in Wyoming received the largest average tax refunds at $5,027. This is the second year in a row that Wyoming topped the list, up 8% from $4,602 the previous tax season. Wyoming was followed by Connecticut ($4,461) and New York ($4,444).
  • Taxpayers in Maine received the smallest average tax refunds at $2,752. Maine was last the previous tax season, too, but at a nearly identical $2,743. Taxpayers in Oregon ($2,896) and Vermont ($2,924) were just ahead of Maine in receiving the lowest average refund in the tax year 2019.
  • Just more than a fifth (21%) of U.S. taxpayers owed the IRS money in the tax year 2019, at an average of $5,893. Residents of Massachusetts ($7,605), Wyoming ($7,541) and Washington ($7,145) owed the most. California had the highest percentage of taxpayers who owed refunds at 26%, followed by four states at 25%.

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

75% of U.S. taxpayers received refunds

Three-quarters of taxpayers received a federal tax refund in 2019 — the latest tax year with available data on all returns (including single, joint and head of household returns).

At an average refund of $3,651 among U.S. taxpayers, the amount was nearly identical to the average in the prior tax year (2018) at $3,660.

Although 75% of taxpayers received a refund in tax year 2019, LendingTree chief credit analyst Matt Schulz cautions against celebrating too much. Instead of working on getting a big refund, Schulz argues that people should try to get their tax bill to zero.

“While it might feel amazing to get a big refund, the truth is that a refund means that you’ve overpaid and essentially given the government an interest-free loan for no reason,” Schulz says. “That’s a big deal because that money could have instead helped you pay bills throughout the year, build up your emergency fund or even pay off some debt.”

Though he’s not a big advocate of overpaying taxes, Schulz admits there are scenarios when getting a refund makes sense.

“If you don’t trust yourself to be smart with the extra money you’d receive throughout the year, then a big refund might make sense,” he says. “But only if you use it for a good purpose.”

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

More than 1 in 5 Americans owed taxes

While most taxpayers can look forward to a refund, a little more than 1 in 5 U.S. taxpayers (21%) ended up owing Uncle Sam. The average tax bill was $5,893.

Residents of Massachusetts ended up paying the most, with an average tax bill of $7,605. Wyoming residents — who earned the honor of receiving the largest average refunds — had the second-largest tax bills at an average of $7,541.

Washington state and two other New England states — Connecticut and New Hampshire — rounded out the top five by largest average tax bills. While 21% of taxpayers nationwide owed taxes, those in some states showed a higher likelihood of owing taxes. Residents of California — the Golden State — had the highest percentage of taxpayers parting with the treasure at 26%.

Just behind California, 1 in 4 taxpayers in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Colorado and Oregon owed the IRS. Although the amounts owed on average were lower than the five states noted above, a greater percentage of residents owed the IRS. Oregon also had the second-lowest average refunds.

Image Credit: LendingTree.

States with the smallest average tax bills

West Virginia was not only at the bottom for refund size, but it also had the lowest average taxes owed. At an average of $4,092, West Virginia residents paid about $1,800 less than the national average and over $3,500 less on average than their Massachusetts counterparts.

With only 14% of taxpayers owing, West Virginia had the lowest percentage of taxpayers owing at filing. Several Midwestern states, including Michigan, Ohio and Iowa, were among those with the lowest average tax bills.

Here is the breakdown of tax refund averages by state, from lowest to highest average refund.

Image Credit: LendingTree.

51. Maine

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 76%
  • Average refund: $2,752
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 20%
  • Average owed: $4,735

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

50. Oregon

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 71%
  • Average refund: $2,896
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 25%
  • Average owed: $5,189

Image Credit: HaizhanZheng.

49. Vermont

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 75%
  • Average refund: $2,924
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 20%
  • Average owed: $5,196

Image Credit: DenisTangneyJr.

48. Iowa

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 77%
  • Average refund: $2,952
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 20%
  • Average owed: $4,304

Image Credit: JoeChristensen.

47. West Virginia

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 82%
  • Average refund: $2,963
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 14%
  • Average owed: $4,092

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

46. Wisconsin

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 76%
  • Average refund: $2,976
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 20%
  • Average owed: $4,856

Image Credit: FierceAbin.

45. Ohio

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 79%
  • Average refund: $3,023
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 18%
  • Average owed: $4,414

Image Credit: dypics.

44. Minnesota

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 74%
  • Average refund: $3,045
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 23%
  • Average owed: $5,124

Image Credit: JoeChristensen.

43. Idaho

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 73%
  • Average refund: $3,046
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 22%
  • Average owed: $5,875

Image Credit: knowlesgallery.

42. Montana

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 72%
  • Average refund: $3,058
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 22%
  • Average owed: $5,464

Image Credit: YinYang.

41. Kentucky

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 80%
  • Average refund: $3,085
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 17%
  • Average owed: $4,467

Image Credit: Thomas Kelley.

40. Nebraska

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 76%
  • Average refund: $3,092
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 20%
  • Average owed: $5,484

 

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39. Indiana

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 80%
  • Average refund: $3,100
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 16%
  • Average owed: $4,829

Image Credit: f11photo.

38. North Carolina

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 76%
  • Average refund: $3,130
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 21%
  • Average owed: $5,326

Image Credit: ” Darwin Brandis”.

37. Delaware

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 76%
  • Average refund: $3,132
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 21%
  • Average owed: $4,830

Image Credit: mdgmorris.

36. South Carolina

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 74%
  • Average refund: $3,147
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 23%
  • Average owed: $4,837

Image Credit: SeanPavonePhoto.

35. New Mexico

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 76%
  • Average refund: $3,159
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 19%
  • Average owed: $4,993

Image Credit: Davel5957.

34. Rhode Island

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 78%
  • Average refund: $3,172
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 19%
  • Average owed: $5,118

Image Credit: danlogan.

33. Missouri

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 77%
  • Average refund: $3,187
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 19%
  • Average owed: $4,843

Image Credit: eyecrave.

32. Michigan

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 77%
  • Average refund: $3,229
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 18%
  • Average owed: $4,466

Image Credit: haveseen.

31. Pennsylvania

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 79%
  • Average refund: $3,232
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 18%
  • Average owed: $5,638

Image Credit: weaver1234.

30. New Hampshire

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 77%
  • Average refund: $3,240
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 20%
  • Average owed: $7,084

Image Credit: DenisTangneyJr.

29. Hawaii

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 73%
  • Average refund: $3,271
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 23%
  • Average owed: $4,612

Image Credit: Art Wager.

28. Arkansas

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 77%
  • Average refund: $3,291
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 19%
  • Average owed: $4,595

Image Credit: Rdlamkin.

27. Kansas

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 76%
  • Average refund: $3,292
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 20%
  • Average owed: $5,345

Image Credit: Michael Pham.

26. Alabama

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 77%
  • Average refund: $3,298
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 20%
  • Average owed: $4,689

Image Credit: Sean Pavone.

25. Mississippi

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 79%
  • Average refund: $3,322
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 18%
  • Average owed: $4,117

Image Credit: stevegeer.

24. Arizona

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 73%
  • Average refund: $3,352
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 23%
  • Average owed: $5,266

Image Credit: wanderluster.

23. Tennessee

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 79%
  • Average refund: $3,361
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 19%
  • Average owed: $6,133

Image Credit: Swarmcatcher.

22. South Dakota

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 76%
  • Average refund: $3,383
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 20%
  • Average owed: $6,547

Image Credit: Rex_Wholster.

21. Utah

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 75%
  • Average refund: $3,413
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 22%
  • Average owed: $5,593

Image Credit: AndreyKrav.

20. Virginia

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 74%
  • Average refund: $3,424
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 23%
  • Average owed: $5,597

Image Credit: DenisTangneyJr.

19. Georgia

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 74%
  • Average refund: $3,461
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 23%
  • Average owed: $5,372

Image Credit: SeanPavonePhoto.

18. Alaska

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 73%
  • Average refund: $3,485
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 24%
  • Average owed: $4,872

Image Credit: Chilkoot.

17. Oklahoma

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 77%
  • Average refund: $3,503
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 19%
  • Average owed: $5,095

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

16. Colorado

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 72%
  • Average refund: $3,537
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 25%
  • Average owed: $6,319

Image Credit: Jacob Boomsma / istockphoto.

15. North Dakota

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 76%
  • Average refund: $3,564
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 21%
  • Average owed: $6,851

Image Credit: sequential5.

14. Maryland

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 72%
  • Average refund: $3,583
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 25%
  • Average owed: $4,913

Image Credit: James_Lane.

13. Louisiana

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 78%
  • Average refund: $3,660
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 19%
  • Average owed: $5,029

Image Credit: DenisTangneyJr.

12. Washington

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 73%
  • Average refund: $3,692
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 23%
  • Average owed: $7,145

Image Credit: 4nadia.

11. Illinois

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 77%
  • Average refund: $3,708
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 20%
  • Average owed: $5,548

Image Credit: ibsky.

10. Nevada

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 76%
  • Average refund: $3,874
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 20%
  • Average owed: $6,716

Image Credit: AlizadaStudios.

9. New Jersey

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 74%
  • Average refund: $3,986
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 23%
  • Average owed: $6,572

Image Credit: aimintang.

8. California

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 70%
  • Average refund: $4,010
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 26%
  • Average owed: $6,690

Image Credit: mlauffen.

7. Texas

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 78%
  • Average refund: $4,123
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 19%
  • Average owed: $6,458

Image Credit: DenisTangneyJr.

6. Massachusetts

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 74%
  • Average refund: $4,175
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 23%
  • Average owed: $7,605

Image Credit: Rolf_52.

5. Florida

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 75%
  • Average refund: $4,301
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 21%
  • Average owed: $6,902

Image Credit: Elisa.rolle.

4. District of Columbia

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 73%
  • Average refund: $4,356
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 25%
  • Average owed: $6,781

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

3. New York

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 75%
  • Average refund: $4,444
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 22%
  • Average owed: $6,247

Image Credit: Boogich.

2. Connecticut

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 74%
  • Average refund: $4,461
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 22%
  • Average owed: $7,063

Image Credit: traveler1116.

1. Wyoming

  • Percentage of taxpayers getting a refund: 77%
  • Average refund: $5,027
  • Percentage of taxpayers who owe taxes: 20%
  • Average owed: $7,541

Image Credit: AnujSahaiPhotography.

What to do if you’re struggling to pay your taxes

If you’re hit with a big tax bill and struggling to pay or if you owe back taxes, the IRS offers tax debt relief programs. These include short-term payment plans, long-term payment plans lasting more than 120 days and offers in compromise. Several of these plans have limits on the amount of taxes owed, and some include fees, so you’ll want to determine if this is the best fit for your needs.

There are also tax debt relief companies that act as middlemen between you and the IRS — but proceed with caution. Scammers can operate under the pretext of tax relief to glean your personal information. Most of these companies use the same programs the IRS offers directly to taxpayers, so you may be better off working with the IRS directly.

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

Methodology

LendingTree researchers analyzed federal individual income tax returns (Form 1040s) filed from Jan. 1, 2020-Dec. 31, 2020, for tax year 2019 — the latest available data — from the IRS’ Statistics of Income program.

Due to processing delays from the COVID-19 pandemic, this data also includes paper returns filed through mid-July 2021 for tax year 2019. The IRS also notes that a limited number of returns are included for tax years before 2019. The IRS defines this as ​​a “proxy for returns that are typically filed beyond the 12-month period.”

To estimate the average refund in the U.S. and each state, researchers divided the total amount refunded by the number of people who received refunds. To determine who owed money, researchers divided the total amount owed by the number of people who owed taxes.

This article originally appeared on LendingTree.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

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