Americans can’t file their income taxes fast enough

but they should brace for some unwelcome news in their 2020 refunds

People are filing their taxes at a blistering pace so far this year, underscoring how serious Americans are about getting any tax refund due or any stimulus-check money they missed last year. The IRS began accepting and processing 2020 tax returns slightly later than usual because its systems needed a breather after distributing a second round of stimulus checks in late December.

However, there is some bad news that many Americans should be prepared for when they finally get their refunds: The average refund so far is $2,880, significantly less than the $3,125 average refund at roughly the same calendar date last year. The decrease follows a year when unemployment skyrocketed due to COVID-19–related restrictions on businesses and shelter-in-place orders.

New IRS statistics released this month show that people are submitting their individual tax returns at a much faster rate than they were early in last year’s tax season. As of Feb. 19, only eight full days into the 2021 filing season, the IRS had received 34.69 million individual returns, agency statistics show.