Through March 10, the IRS has issued 59.2 million refund checks totaling $174.4 billion, agency chief Douglas H. Shulman told a House subcommittee Thursday. That compares to 59 million refunds totaling $178.3 billion a year ago.
Based on those figures, this year's checks average $2,946, down marginally from last year's $3,022.
An IRS spokesman said the agency isn't certain why the figure has dipped. He noted that the widely used Making Work Pay tax credit created by the 2009 economic stimulus law had expired and another credit for first-time homebuyers has been restricted.
Shulman told the House Ways and Means Committee oversight subcommittee that through March 10, the IRS has processed almost 71 million individual returns, a small increase.
Nearly 26 million filers prepared their own electronic returns, an 11 percent jump from 2011.
The agency has directly deposited 51 million refunds to taxpayers, up 3 percent.