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The auto fallout from tax refund delays

Jim Henry is a special correspondent for Automotive News.

Tax refund season is typically the high point of the year for subprime auto lenders, but so far the early tax refund statistics are down slightly from a year ago.

Through Feb. 20, the IRS had processed about 40 million refunds, down 1.1 percent from a year ago. The average refund was slightly higher at $3,210 vs. $3,116 tallied from Jan. 1 through Feb. 21, 2014, the IRS said.

Tax refunds seem to get later every year, Charles Bradley Jr., CEO of subprime auto lender Consumer Portfolio Services, observed during a Feb. 18 conference call. “As far as we know, the tax season started, like, four days ago. It should have started two weeks ago,” he said.

The upshot? Subprime lenders and dealerships are watching the mail -- just like everyone else.

You can reach Jim Henry at

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