Millions of Americans filling out their 2018 taxes will probably be surprised to learn that their refunds will be less than expected or that they owe money to the Internal Revenue Service after years of receiving refunds.
People have already taken to social media, using the hashtag #GOPTaxScam, to vent their anger. Many blame President Trump and the Republicans for shrinking refunds. Some on Twitter even said they wouldn’t vote for Trump again after seeing their refunds slashed.
The uproar follows the passage of a major overhaul to the tax code in December 2017, which was enacted with only Republican votes and is considered the biggest legislative achievement of Trump’s first year. While the vast majority of Americans received a tax cut in 2018, refunds are a different matter. Some refunds have decreased because of changes in the law, such as a new limit on property and local income tax deductions, and some have decreased because of how the IRS has altered withholding in paychecks.
John Prugh of Ewing Township, N.J., was irate when he completed his 2018 tax return this month and discovered his refund would be $3,000 less than what he received last year. Prugh considers himself “solidly middle class.”
The 39-year-old is a manager at a Barnes & Noble bookstore, and his wife works for the state government. They have two children. Prugh said he had no reason to believe their tax situation would change this year because he and his wife have lived in the same house for years while their incomes have remained stable.
“It totally feels like a scam,” said Prugh, who did not vote for Trump. “I did still get a small refund, but compared to what I was expecting from previous years, it was shock.”
The average tax refund check is down 8 percent ($170) this year compared to last, the IRS reported Friday, and the number of people receiving a refund so far has dropped by almost a quarter.
An IRS spokesman cautioned not to read too much into early data because it reflects only returns processed through Feb. 1, and the partial government shutdown caused delays in processing filings.