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With little more than four weeks left until the April 17 tax filing deadline, about half of the expected 3.4 million tax tax returns have been filed. Lest you think that unusual, that is 105,996 or 7 percent higher than a year ago.

More than 1.3 million refunds totaling $634.9 million have been paid to taxpayers, up $33 million from a year ago, when 1.27 million refunds had been paid at this point.

The average refund is the same as a year ago, $472, with 80 percent of those filing receiving a refund, same as last year.

A year ago, 86.3 percent of returns had been filed electronically; it is up slightly to 87 percent this year. So far, 947,463 returns have been filed electronically, up 8 percent or 103,757 more than a year ago. This reflects the fact that filing season got off to a quicker start this year than a year ago, when the IRS advised those who itemize deductions to wait until mid-February for revised tax tables.

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