Oftentimes, receiving an income tax refund from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or other taxing body is a pleasant surprise. Unfortunately, the IRS advises most taxpayers to expect a smaller refund in 2023 as compared to recent years. The key reasons are outlined below.

No Special Stimulus Payments for 2022

Unlike 2020 and 2021, there are no special economic stimulus payments for 2022. As a result, holding all else constant, the average taxpayer can expect a higher federal income tax obligation (and a smaller refund) due to the stimulus phase-out.

Some 2022 Tax Credits Are Reverting to Pre-COVID-19 Levels

The most notable reversions relate to the Child Tax Credit (CTC), the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child and Dependent Care Credit

For example, if eligible, filers who got $3,600 per dependent for the CTC in 2021 will only get $2,000 for the 2022 tax year.

For the EITC, eligible taxpayers with no children who received roughly $1,500 in 2021 will only get $500 in 2022.

For 2022, the Child and Dependent Care Credit will return to a maximum of $2,100, instead of the $8,000 granted in 2021.

The IRS provides a comprehensive breakdown of other potential tax breaks. 

Expert’s Take
“While a tax refund can be a nice surprise, it is a suboptimal situation, especially if the refund amount is significant. After all, a refund simply means you have overpaid the IRS. Financially savvy individuals might hold as much of their money as possible and put it to work via interest and dividend-bearing investment vehicles.”
— Thomas J. Brock, CFA®, CPA

No Above-the-Line Charitable Deductions for 2022

Following the COVID-19 outbreak, taxpayers could take up to a $600 charitable donation tax deduction on their tax returns. However, in 2022, those who take a standard deduction may not take an above-the-line deduction for charitable donations.

Closing Thoughts

The IRS advises that some 2022 returns will take longer to process than others, which is typical when it’s in an understaffed position (the norm for several years). The IRS provides in-depth coverage of what’s new, in addition to an array of online tools and resources to help facilitate the filing process.

Please seek the advice of a qualified professional before making financial decisions.
Last Modified: March 2, 2023