What Percentage Of Taxes Do You Get Back?

Have you ever wondered how much of your hard-earned money you can get back when tax season rolls around? Well, look no further! In this article, we’ll explore the all-important question of what percentage of taxes you can expect to receive as a refund. Whether you’re a first-time filer or a seasoned taxpayer, this essential information will help you understand just how much of a financial boost you can anticipate from your tax return. So, let’s get ready to unveil the mystery behind what percentage of taxes you get back!

Understanding Tax Refunds

Definition of Tax Refund

A tax refund is an amount of money that is returned to you by the government when you have paid more in taxes than you actually owe. It is essentially a reimbursement of the excess taxes you have paid throughout the year. Tax refunds are typically received after you have filed your annual tax return.

How Tax Refunds Work

When you file your tax return, the government calculates your total tax liability based on your income, deductions, and other factors. If the amount you have already paid through withholding or estimated payments exceeds your total tax liability, you will be eligible for a refund. The government will issue a refund for the excess amount.

Factors Affecting Tax Refunds

Several factors can influence the size of your tax refund. These factors include your tax bracket, income level, deductions, credits, marital status, dependents, and any changes in tax law. Understanding these factors can help you estimate and plan for your tax refund.

Calculating Tax Refunds

Types of Taxes

To calculate your tax refund accurately, it is essential to understand the different types of taxes. The most common types of taxes include federal income tax, state income tax, and social security and Medicare taxes. Each of these taxes has its own rules and rates, which contribute to your overall tax liability.

Deductions and Credits

Deductions and credits can significantly impact your tax refund. Deductions reduce your taxable income, while credits directly reduce the amount of tax you owe. Common deductions include student loan interest, mortgage interest, and contributions to retirement accounts. Credits, on the other hand, can be more substantial and include items such as child tax credits and earned income credits.

Marginal Tax Bracket

Understanding your marginal tax bracket is crucial for calculating your tax refund. Your marginal tax bracket determines the tax rate you pay on your highest dollar of income. By knowing your tax bracket, you can estimate your tax liability and further project your potential tax refund.

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Tax Withholding

Tax withholding refers to the amount of money that is deducted from your paycheck to cover your income tax liability. It is important to adjust your withholding to ensure you are not overpaying or underpaying your taxes throughout the year. Correctly estimating your tax withholding can help you avoid any surprises come tax season and can also affect the size of your tax refund.

Calculating Tax Liability

To calculate your tax refund accurately, you must first determine your tax liability. This includes calculating your total income, applying any applicable deductions and credits, and utilizing the tax brackets and rates for the relevant tax year. By correctly calculating your tax liability, you can estimate the amount of your tax refund or any additional tax due.

Average Tax Refund Percentage

National Average Refund Percentage

The average tax refund percentage in the United States can vary from year to year. According to recent data, the average refund percentage hovers around 70%. This means that, on average, taxpayers receive a refund equal to approximately 70% of the taxes they have paid throughout the year.

Variations by Income Level

The average refund percentage can vary based on your income level. Generally, individuals with lower incomes tend to receive higher refund percentages compared to those with higher incomes. This is due to the impact of deductions and credits, which can provide more substantial benefits for individuals with lower incomes.

Variations by Filing Status

Your filing status can also affect your average refund percentage. Whether you file as single, married filing jointly, married filing separately, or head of household, each status has its own tax brackets and rates. Couples filing jointly, for example, may benefit from lower tax rates and potentially higher refund percentages compared to individuals filing separately.

Variations by State

Tax refund percentages can also vary by state. Different states have distinct tax laws and rates, which can influence your potential refund amount. States with higher income tax rates may result in lower refund percentages, while states with lower rates may lead to higher refund percentages.

Factors Influencing Tax Refunds

Tax Bracket

Your tax bracket, as mentioned earlier, can have a significant impact on your tax refund. Different tax brackets have different tax rates, and higher tax brackets generally result in a higher tax liability. Therefore, individuals in higher tax brackets may receive smaller refund percentages compared to those in lower tax brackets.

Income Level

Income level is another crucial factor when determining your tax refund. Higher incomes generally result in higher tax liabilities, which can decrease the overall refund percentage. Conversely, lower incomes may result in more significant refund percentages, as deductions and credits may offset a larger portion of the tax liability.

Deductions and Credits

The deductions and credits you qualify for can significantly affect your tax refund. Claiming eligible deductions and credits can reduce your taxable income and ultimately decrease your tax liability. Utilizing these deductions and credits can lead to a larger tax refund compared to not claiming them.

Marital Status

Your marital status also plays a role in determining your tax refund. Married couples have the option to file jointly or separately, and this decision can impact their overall tax liability and refund percentage. Filing jointly may result in a lower tax liability and potentially a higher refund percentage due to the combination of incomes and tax benefits.


If you have dependents, such as children or other qualifying individuals, they can contribute to a higher refund percentage. Eligible dependents can increase your tax credits, such as the child tax credit, which directly reduces your tax liability. This can lead to a more significant tax refund compared to individuals without dependents.

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Changes in Tax Law

Changes in tax law can also influence your tax refund. Updates to tax regulations, deductions, and credits can impact your overall tax liability and refund percentage. Staying informed about any changes in tax law can help you better estimate and plan for your potential tax refund.

Effect of Tax Changes

Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA)

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), passed in 2017, made several significant changes to the tax code. These changes included modifications to tax rates, standard deductions, and various deductions and credits. The TCJA aimed to simplify the tax filing process and reduce taxes for many individuals and families. However, the impact on individual tax refunds varied based on specific circumstances and changes in personal finances.

COVID-19 Relief Measures

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the government implemented various relief measures that impacted tax refunds. These measures included stimulus payments and expanded unemployment benefits. Stimulus payments were issued to eligible individuals and families, providing additional income and potentially affecting tax refunds. Enhanced unemployment benefits also had an impact as they were taxable, potentially altering overall refund percentages.

Other Tax Law Changes

Outside of major tax reform and relief measures, there are numerous smaller tax law changes that can affect tax refunds. These changes can include adjustments to deduction limits, modifications to credits, and alterations to eligibility criteria. Staying up to date with these changes is essential for accurately estimating and planning for your tax refund.

Strategies to Maximize Tax Refunds

Claiming Deductions and Credits

One effective strategy to maximize your tax refund is to ensure you are claiming all eligible deductions and credits. Research and understand the deductions and credits that apply to your specific situation. This may include educational expenses, home mortgage interest, medical expenses, and retirement contributions. By claiming these deductions and credits, you can potentially decrease your tax liability and increase your refund.

Optimizing Tax Withholding

Adjusting your tax withholding throughout the year can help maximize your tax refund. Review your paycheck withholding and use the IRS withholding calculator to ensure you are withholding the correct amount. By avoiding over-withholding or under-withholding, you can have more control over your refund and potentially receive a larger amount when you file your tax return.

Contributing to Retirement Accounts

Contributing to retirement accounts, such as a 401(k) or an individual retirement account (IRA), can have dual benefits. Not only do these contributions help save for retirement, but they can also provide tax advantages. Contributions to certain retirement accounts can lower your taxable income, potentially reducing your tax liability and increasing your refund.

Utilizing Tax-Advantaged Accounts

Utilizing tax-advantaged accounts, such as a health savings account (HSA) or a flexible spending account (FSA), can also impact your tax refund. Contributions to these accounts are typically made with pre-tax dollars, reducing your taxable income. By taking full advantage of these accounts, you can decrease your tax liability and potentially receive a larger refund.

Common Misconceptions

Expecting a Big Refund Means You Paid Too Much in Taxes

Many individuals believe that receiving a large refund means they have paid too much in taxes throughout the year. While it is true that a large refund indicates overpayment, it does not necessarily mean you paid too much. It could be a result of specific deductions, credits, or adjustments to your withholding.

A Smaller Refund is Always Better

Some people assume that a smaller refund is always better because it means they have utilized their income more efficiently. While it is important to optimize your withholdings and avoid overpaying, receiving a smaller refund does not automatically imply better financial management. Balancing your cash flow and tax refund preference is personal and varies from one individual to another.

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Refund Delays Indicate an Audit

Experiencing a delay in receiving your tax refund does not necessarily indicate an audit. The processing time for tax refunds can vary based on numerous factors, such as the volume of returns and any additional review required by the tax authorities. It is always advisable to check the status of your refund using the IRS’s online tools for accurate information.

Getting a Refund is the Same as a Tax Benefit

Obtaining a tax refund should not be confused with receiving a tax benefit. A tax benefit refers to any financial advantage, such as deductions, credits, or exemptions, that reduces your overall tax liability. While a refund is a return of some of the taxes you have already paid, it is not the same as a tax benefit. Understanding the distinction can help you make more informed financial decisions.

Dealing with a Small or No Refund

Reviewing Tax Withholding

If you are consistently receiving a small or no refund, it may be beneficial to review your tax withholding. Adjusting your withholding can be done by submitting a new Form W-4 to your employer. By ensuring your withholding aligns with your tax liability, you can potentially increase your refund or reduce the amount owed.

Adjusting Deductions and Credits

Another option to consider when dealing with a small or no refund is adjusting your deductions and credits. Research eligible deductions and credits that you may not have previously claimed. Keep in mind, however, that you must meet the criteria and have supporting documentation to claim these deductions and credits legitimately.

Considering Estimated Tax Payments

If you are self-employed or receive income that does not have taxes withheld, you may need to make estimated tax payments throughout the year. By making these quarterly payments based on your projected income and tax liability, you can avoid any surprises and potential underpayment penalties when you file your tax return.

Seeking Professional Help

If you find yourself consistently receiving a small or no refund and are unsure how to maximize your tax situation, it may be helpful to seek professional assistance. Tax professionals can accurately assess your financial situation, provide personalized advice, and guide you towards strategies that can increase your refund. Their expertise can help you navigate the complexities of the tax system.

Avoiding Potential Penalties

Underpayment Penalty

Underpayment penalties can occur if you do not pay enough taxes throughout the year, resulting in a tax liability when you file your return. To avoid underpayment penalties, it is essential to review and adjust your estimated tax payments or tax withholding as necessary. Paying the correct amount of taxes throughout the year can help you avoid penalties and prevent any negative impact on your tax refund.

Late Filing Penalty

Failing to file your tax return on time can result in a late filing penalty. To avoid this penalty, make sure you file your tax return by the deadline, which is typically April 15th. If you are unable to file on time, you can request an extension, but it is essential to pay any taxes owed by the original due date to avoid late payment penalties.

Accuracy-Related Penalties

The IRS can impose accuracy-related penalties if you make errors or provide misleading information on your tax return. To avoid accuracy-related penalties, ensure you double-check your tax return for accuracy, report all income, and support any deductions or credits claimed with appropriate documentation. Keeping thorough records and seeking professional help when needed can help minimize the risk of accuracy-related penalties.

Tax Fraud Penalties

Engaging in tax fraud, such as intentionally underreporting income or falsifying deductions, can result in severe penalties, including fines, penalties, and even criminal charges. It is essential to comply with all tax laws and accurately report your income and expenses. If you are unsure about any aspect of your tax return, seeking professional guidance is highly recommended to avoid potential tax fraud penalties.


Understanding tax refunds and the factors that affect them is crucial for maximizing your tax situation. By comprehending how tax refunds work and the various elements that contribute to their calculation, you can make informed decisions throughout the year to optimize your tax refund. Additionally, being aware of common misconceptions, dealing with small or no refunds, and avoiding potential penalties can help you navigate the tax system with confidence. Remember, seeking professional help when needed can provide valuable guidance tailored to your specific circumstances.