The IRS delivered a progress report Thursday on tax season so far, noting that it has issued 19.7 million refunds worth more than $66 billion, up slightly from last year’s totals.

The average refund as of Feb. 6 is $3,366, slightly more than the average at this time last year, according to the IRS. The vast majority of taxpayers are choosing to receive their refunds through direct deposit, which accounts for almost 95% of refunds so far this year.

The IRS also noted that more taxpayers are visiting its Web site,, this year to get tax help and information, not surprising since the IRS is encouraging taxpayers to first check its Web site to answer their questions instead of calling its overloaded phone lines. Consecutive budget cuts in recent years at the agency have lengthened the wait times on customer service lines.

According to the IRS, the number of visitors to is up almost 20% compared with last year. The IRS web site has been visited more than 100 million times so far this year compared with 85 million for the same time last year.

The IRS reminded taxpayers that the site contains tools that allow taxpayers to check the status of a refundaccess transcripts of their tax returns, request electronic filing Personal Identification Numbersfind answers to tax law questions, and check the status of amended returns. Usage of the tool to check the status of a refund, “Where’s My Refund?” is up 91%, compared to the same time last year.

In total, the IRS has received 27.5 million tax returns, slightly more than at the same time last year. Of those returns, more than 96% were filed electronically.

Michael Cohn is the Editor-in-Chief of

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