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With little more than seven weeks left until the April 17th tax filing deadline, the story of this year's filing season is refunds — they are running $42.6 million ahead of a year ago at this time, and are now in excess of $411 million.

Of the 1.058 million tax returns filed to date (up 145,591 or 16 percent from a year ago), 80 percent have received a refund averaging $486.

The number of refunds is up 11 percent, from 763,207 a year ago to 846,250 as of yesterday.

It seems clear that many taxpayers took the advice of the IRS last year and waited to file until the middle of February, when the IRS published tax tables required for taxpayers who itemize. The delay in publishing the tables was due to last-minute tax law changes Congress enacted at the end of 2010, including the extension of the Bush tax cuts.

There was no such delay this year, and as a result, taxpayers who know they will get refunds have filed early, and in large number.

So far, 90 percent of returns have been filed electronically, a percentage unchanged from a year ago.

Those filing electronically are receiving refunds sent to their bank accounts in less than four business days.

Those relatively few taxpayers filing paper returns are getting their refunds in about five business days.

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