States With the Largest Average Tax Refund

March 8, 2018 by Mike Sauter

Source: LIgorko / iStock

By tax deadline day, which this year is April 17, over 150 million American households will file personal income tax returns. Many who file hope for a substantial refund to help pay for essentials, a big item, or for some luxury like a vacation.

During the 2016 tax season, the federal government collected over $3.3 trillion in tax revenue through the corporate tax, individual income tax, estate tax, sales tax, and others. After processing all returns and associated documents, numbering over 240 million, it issued over 120 million refunds than $426 billion in tax refunds. The average refund issued for taxes paid in 2016 was $3,484.

The size of a household’s tax return depends on many factors, including differences in state tax laws and income. There was a substantial difference in the size of the average tax return by state, which ranged from less than $2,500 to well over $4,000.

Based on data compiled by the Internal Revenue Service’s 2016 Data Book, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed each state’s tax data and ranked states from the lowest average federal refund to the highest.

Click here to see the average tax refund in every state.
Click here to see our detailed findings and methodology.

Source: Thinkstock

50. Vermont
> Average federal tax refund: $2,433 (the smallest)
> Median household income: $57,677 (20th highest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $7,142 (14th lowest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 45% (7th lowest)

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Source: Thinkstock

49. Montana
> Average federal tax refund: $2,448 (2nd smallest)
> Median household income: $50,027 (11th lowest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $5,729 (6th lowest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 40% (the lowest)

Source: Thinkstock

48. Maine
> Average federal tax refund: $2,470 (3rd smallest)
> Median household income: $53,079 (19th lowest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $5,897 (7th lowest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 47% (11th lowest)

Source: Thinkstock

47. Oregon
> Average federal tax refund: $2,480 (4th smallest)
> Median household income: $57,532 (21st highest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $7,806 (19th lowest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 45% (6th lowest)

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Source: Thinkstock

46. Idaho
> Average federal tax refund: $2,529 (5th smallest)
> Median household income: $51,807 (15th lowest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $5,991 (8th lowest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 46% (8th lowest)

Source: Thinkstock

45. West Virginia
> Average federal tax refund: $2,619 (6th smallest)
> Median household income: $43,385 (2nd lowest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $3,777 (the lowest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 59% (the highest)

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Source: Thinkstock

44. Rhode Island
> Average federal tax refund: $2,626 (7th smallest)
> Median household income: $60,596 (18th highest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $13,827 (6th highest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 52% (18th highest)

Source: Thinkstock

43. South Carolina
> Average federal tax refund: $2,639 (8th smallest)
> Median household income: $49,501 (10th lowest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $5,137 (4th lowest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 53% (13th highest)

Source: Thinkstock

42. New Mexico
> Average federal tax refund: $2,650 (9th smallest)
> Median household income: $46,748 (7th lowest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $4,199 (2nd lowest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 53% (11th highest)

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Source: Thinkstock

41. Michigan
> Average federal tax refund: $2,657 (10th smallest)
> Median household income: $52,492 (18th lowest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $8,182 (20th lowest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 53% (14th highest)

Source: Thinkstock

40. Ohio
> Average federal tax refund: $2,697 (11th smallest)
> Median household income: $52,334 (17th lowest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $12,150 (10th highest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 55% (7th highest)

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Source: Thinkstock

39. Indiana
> Average federal tax refund: $2,715 (12th smallest)
> Median household income: $52,314 (16th lowest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $8,614 (23rd lowest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 57% (4th highest)

Source: Thinkstock

38. South Dakota
> Average federal tax refund: $2,723 (13th smallest)
> Median household income: $54,467 (22nd lowest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $8,989 (24th highest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 44% (4th lowest)

Source: Thinkstock

37. Wisconsin
> Average federal tax refund: $2,734 (14th smallest)
> Median household income: $56,811 (24th highest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $9,080 (23rd highest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 51% (21st highest)

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Source: Thinkstock

36. New Hampshire
> Average federal tax refund: $2,765 (15th smallest)
> Median household income: $70,936 (7th highest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $8,599 (22nd lowest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 50% (23rd highest)

35. Kentucky
> Average federal tax refund: $2,765 (16th smallest)
> Median household income: $46,659 (6th lowest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $7,719 (18th lowest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 56% (5th highest)

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Source: Thinkstock

34. Arizona
> Average federal tax refund: $2,766 (17th smallest)
> Median household income: $53,558 (20th lowest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $6,065 (9th lowest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 49% (25th lowest)

Source: Thinkstock

33. Hawaii
> Average federal tax refund: $2,768 (18th smallest)
> Median household income: $74,511 (5th highest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $6,168 (10th lowest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 49% (20th lowest)

Source: Thinkstock

32. Alaska
> Average federal tax refund: $2,797 (19th smallest)
> Median household income: $76,440 (2nd highest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $7,529 (15th lowest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 48% (14th lowest)

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Source: Thinkstock

31. Arkansas
> Average federal tax refund: $2,826 (20th smallest)
> Median household income: $44,334 (3rd lowest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $10,723 (14th highest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 52% (16th highest)

Source: Thinkstock

30. Washington
> Average federal tax refund: $2,861 (21st smallest)
> Median household income: $67,106 (10th highest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $10,577 (16th highest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 49% (23rd lowest)

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Source: Thinkstock

29. Maryland
> Average federal tax refund: $2,871 (22nd smallest)
> Median household income: $78,945 (the highest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $11,253 (11th highest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 51% (22nd highest)

Source: jessicasarahs / Flickr

28. North Carolina
> Average federal tax refund: $2,873 (23rd smallest)
> Median household income: $50,584 (12th lowest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $8,250 (21st lowest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 52% (17th highest)

Source: Thinkstock

27. Alabama
> Average federal tax refund: $2,900 (24th smallest)
> Median household income: $46,257 (5th lowest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $5,299 (5th lowest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 55% (6th highest)

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Source: Thinkstock

26. Florida
> Average federal tax refund: $3,023 (25th smallest)
> Median household income: $50,860 (13th lowest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $9,141 (21st highest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 47% (9th lowest)

Source: Thinkstock

25. Colorado
> Average federal tax refund: $3,025 (25th largest)
> Median household income: $65,685 (12th highest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $9,882 (18th highest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 44% (5th lowest)

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Source: Thinkstock

24. Nevada
> Average federal tax refund: $3,035 (24th largest)
> Median household income: $55,180 (24th lowest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $6,772 (11th lowest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 53% (12th highest)

Source: Thinkstock

23. Tennessee
> Average federal tax refund: $3,048 (23rd largest)
> Median household income: $48,547 (8th lowest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $9,773 (19th highest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 58% (2nd highest)

Source: Phillip Stewart / Flickr

22. Wyoming
> Average federal tax refund: $3,049 (22nd largest)
> Median household income: $59,882 (19th highest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $7,644 (17th lowest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 43% (3rd lowest)

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Source: Thinkstock

21. Utah
> Average federal tax refund: $3,061 (21st largest)
> Median household income: $65,977 (11th highest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $6,925 (12th lowest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 48% (19th lowest)

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20. Mississippi
> Average federal tax refund: $3,091 (20th largest)
> Median household income: $41,754 (the lowest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $4,211 (3rd lowest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 57% (3rd highest)

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Source: Thinkstock

19. Kansas
> Average federal tax refund: $3,099 (19th largest)
> Median household income: $54,935 (23rd lowest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $8,699 (24th lowest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 49% (21st lowest)

Source: Thinkstock

18. Massachusetts
> Average federal tax refund: $3,106 (18th largest)
> Median household income: $75,297 (4th highest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $15,975 (5th highest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 49% (22nd lowest)

Source: Schnitzel_bank / Flickr

17. Georgia
> Average federal tax refund: $3,126 (17th largest)
> Median household income: $53,559 (21st lowest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $8,807 (25th lowest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 53% (9th highest)

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16. Missouri
> Average federal tax refund: $3,154 (16th largest)
> Median household income: $51,746 (14th lowest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $10,912 (12th highest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 50% (24th highest)

Source: Thinkstock

15. California
> Average federal tax refund: $3,186 (15th largest)
> Median household income: $67,739 (9th highest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $10,769 (13th highest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 47% (10th lowest)

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Source: faungg's photos / Flickr

14. Louisiana
> Average federal tax refund: $3,213 (14th largest)
> Median household income: $45,146 (4th lowest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $8,874 (25th highest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 53% (10th highest)

Source: Thinkstock

13. Nebraska
> Average federal tax refund: $3,225 (13th largest)
> Median household income: $56,927 (22nd highest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $13,203 (8th highest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 48% (15th lowest)

12. Virginia
> Average federal tax refund: $3,229 (12th largest)
> Median household income: $68,114 (8th highest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $9,940 (17th highest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 51% (19th highest)

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Source: Thinkstock

11. North Dakota
> Average federal tax refund: $3,256 (11th largest)
> Median household income: $60,656 (17th highest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $9,137 (22nd highest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 43% (2nd lowest)

Source: Thinkstock

10. Iowa
> Average federal tax refund: $3,284 (10th largest)
> Median household income: $56,247 (25th lowest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $7,639 (16th lowest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 48% (18th lowest)

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Source: Thinkstock

9. Minnesota
> Average federal tax refund: $3,372 (9th largest)
> Median household income: $65,599 (13th highest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $18,786 (2nd highest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 48% (13th lowest)

Source: Thinkstock

8. Illinois
> Average federal tax refund: $3,438 (8th largest)
> Median household income: $60,960 (16th highest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $12,650 (9th highest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 51% (20th highest)

7. Pennsylvania
> Average federal tax refund: $3,471 (7th largest)
> Median household income: $56,907 (23rd highest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $10,632 (15th highest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 53% (15th highest)

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Source: Thinkstock

6. New York
> Average federal tax refund: $3,521 (6th largest)
> Median household income: $62,909 (14th highest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $13,471 (7th highest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 49% (24th lowest)

Source: Lindsay Attaway / Flickr

5. Texas
> Average federal tax refund: $3,906 (5th largest)
> Median household income: $56,565 (25th highest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $9,372 (20th highest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 54% (8th highest)

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4. Delaware
> Average federal tax refund: $3,925 (4th largest)
> Median household income: $61,757 (15th highest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $20,976 (the highest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 47% (12th lowest)

Source: Thinkstock

3. New Jersey
> Average federal tax refund: $3,946 (3rd largest)
> Median household income: $76,126 (3rd highest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $15,989 (4th highest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 48% (16th lowest)

Source: Thinkstock

2. Connecticut
> Average federal tax refund: $4,085 (2nd largest)
> Median household income: $73,433 (6th highest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $17,590 (3rd highest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 48% (17th lowest)

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Source: Thinkstock

1. Oklahoma
> Average federal tax refund: $4,421 (the largest)
> Median household income: $49,176 (9th lowest)
> Federal tax collections per capita: $7,125 (13th lowest)
> Pct. filings receiving refunds: 50% (25th highest)

Detailed Findings & Methodology

On the whole, states where the federal government collects more in taxes per return also tend to receive the largest average refunds. Six of the 10 states with the highest average tax refunds are among the top 10 for total federal tax collections per capita from that state. In the 10 states with the smallest average return, federal tax collections per capita fall below the average of $10,316 per state resident.

By far, the greatest determinant for the size of the typical tax return is income, as income taxes account for the largest share of federal tax refunds, at 86% of all federal refunds last year. In some states, income tax refunds accounted for over 95% of total federal refunds.

Of the 15 states with the lowest average tax return, only three have a median household income higher than the national figure of $57,617. Of the 15 states with the highest average tax returns, nine have median household incomes greater than that of the typical U.S. household.

State taxes can be itemized as deductions, and higher tax collections on the state level contributes to state differences in the average refund size. The states with higher state and local tax collections per capita, on the whole, also tend to have higher average returns.

To determine the average tax refund in every state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 2016 IRS Data Book for the total number of refunds issued in each state, then used the total amount refunded in each state to calculate the average tax refund. The state figure which includes total filings receiving refunds includes not just individual income tax returns, but all filing documents, including corporate taxes, estate taxes, and more. The refund rate for individual income taxes is much higher in these states.