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Average tax refund down 8.7 pct. from year ago, IRS reports

WASHINGTON — The government says that the average tax refund and the total amount of refunds issued thus far have declined for the second straight week. The declines have become a political issue, as Democrats contend they show how the new Republican-written tax law hurts middle-class people.

The average refund paid in the second week of the filing season ended Feb. 8 was $1,949, down 8.7 per cent from $2,135 a year earlier, according to new IRS data.

The decline may be largely due to how some employees and employers had adjusted the amounts withheld from paychecks to account for changes under the new tax law. Most taxpayers received a tax cut under the law, but some may have had too little withheld and ended up with a smaller-than-expected refund or owing tax.

Marcy Gordon, The Associated Press