WASHINGTON (AP) — The average tax refund and the total amount of refunds issued declined for the second straight week, potentially intensifying a political flashpoint seized by Democrats as proof that the Republican-written tax law hurts the middle class.
The average refund in the second week of the filing season ended Feb. 8 was $1,949, down 8.7 percent from $2,135 a year earlier, according to IRS data released Thursday.
Total refunds to date are down 23 percent to $22.2 billion, from $28.9 billion last year.
The decline may be largely due to how some employees and employers had adjusted the amounts withheld from paychecks to account for changes under the new tax law. Most taxpayers received a tax cut under the law but some may have had too little withheld, resulting in a smaller-than-expected refund, or even money owed to the government.
Refunds become an annual check that some three-quarters of U.S. taxpayers typically count on. For some lower-income households, it is the biggest cash infusion of the year.
The Treasury Department believes around 80 percent of taxpayers will see a decrease in their tax bill this year, while about 15 percent will owe…