JIM HENRY

Size of average tax refund makes a decent down payment

Jim Henry is a special correspondent for Automotive News.

For anybody keeping track -- which is to say, anybody interested in subprime auto lending – U.S. tax refunds have fallen a bit more behind than they were a few weeks ago.

Tax refund season is typically the high point of the year for subprime auto loans.

The IRS reported in a March 12 update that it had processed around 54.3 million refunds -- valued at about $162.1 billion -- as of March 6. That was about 2 percent fewer refunds than it had processed as of March 7, 2014. The total dollar value of all refunds fell 1.5 percent, the IRS said.

A few weeks ago, through Feb. 20, the IRS had processed about 40 million refunds, down 1.1 percent from a year earlier.

The good news is that the size of the average refund was up in the latest report but only by 0.6 percent, to $2,988.

Still, that could offer a car shopper a decent down payment.

You can reach Jim Henry at autonews@crain.com

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