Shocked by your 2019 tax return? Here’s why refunds are lower this year

Why tax refunds are lower this year

(CNN) - If you haven’t filed your taxes yet you may be in for an unpleasant surprise.

The Internal Revenue Service is handing out less money to taxpayers.

Experts said the tax bill that passed in 2017 is behind the lower payouts.

The IRS says so far, the average refund is down almost 9 percent.

IRS data shows refunds averaged $1,949 as compared to $2,135 last year.

“When you already have plans for it (the money) and you want to go on a spring break trip or pay off your debt that you’ve been waiting on, and your refund is maybe hundreds of dollars lower than you thought, that’s painful,” said Chris Burns, CEO of Dynamic Money, a financial literacy website.

So, what's behind the drop?

Experts say the 2017 tax bill lowered most individual rates and nearly doubled the standard deduction.

This past year under the new tax law, experts say most people got more in take-home pay every month.

"Maybe a thousand dollars more over the course of the year,” Burns said. “But it was in such small increments it didn't feel like it. But when you get $500 less on your return at end of the year, now you feel that."

If you want a bigger payday next year, you'll have to adjust your paycheck withholdings now.

But experts don't recommend that approach.

“As good as it feels to get that big tax refund, it’s an enforced savings program with the worst terms possible,” Burns said.

According to the IRS, the total number of returns also dropped during the first two weeks of tax season.

The number of returns received is about $28 million, according to the IRS. That’s a drop of about $1.25 million.

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