$106 billion refunded so far - IRS

At this point in the tax season, more Americans are filing their taxes electronically.

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Catherine Clifford, CNNMoney.com staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The tax man's deadline is still weeks away, but 46.9 million taxpayers have already filed their 2007 returns and received $106.7 billion in refunds, the Internal Revenue Service said Monday.

Of those returns, 38 million have been filed electronically - or 5% more than at the same point last year.

"E-filing continues to be the preferred way to file your tax return," IRS Acting Commissioner Linda Stiff said in a statement. "It is the fast, easy, safe and more accurate way to file your tax return."

The IRS report covers the year through Feb. 22.

The average refund is $2,708, up 2% from the same time last year. For the 33 million who opted for a direct deposit of their check, the average refund was $2,900.

"If you have a larger amount coming back to you, the larger the incentive to opt for a quicker return," Alan Straus, a Tax Attorney and certified public accountant in New York, said of the higher average refund for direct deposit.

Pat Jennerjohn, a fee-only certified financial planner from Oakland, Calif. recommended re-adjusting your withholding if you're getting a refund in the thousands.

"If you are deliberately over-withholding to have this refund, there are so many things that you can set up to have your own savings account so that it works for you instead of Uncle Sam," she said.

Once you have the refund, Doug Flynn, Certified Financial Planner with Flynn Zito Capital Management in New York, recommended you pay off your debt with the highest interest rate first.

If your debt situation is manageable, he says this is a good time to take advantage of bargains and invest in the markets. But if you're nervous about job security, Flynn recommended sinking that refund check directly in the bank.

The IRS reported that the biggest area of growth among electronic filers is from those filing from their home computer - 12.3 million, or a 14% increase over a year ago.

But while more people are filing from home computers, Straus said it's not affecting his business. Those with complicated financial portfolios need a CPA to sort them out, while "more and more of the people who would do it themselves anyway are filing electronically," he said.

The IRS Web site, IRS.gov, has recorded 72.6 million unique visitors so far this year, up 8% from the same time last year. To top of page

 
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