As tax refunds shrink, Republicans scramble to defend Trump tax cut

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But Americans are accustomed to refunds, often big ones, and IRS statistics showing they are down by an average of 17 percent so far this year have forced a reckoning that conservatives didn’t expect. Democrats are doing their best to take advantage of it and ramping up their criticism of the tax overhaul, which passed without a single Democratic vote.

The Treasury Department has taken pains to note the numbers are early, coming just a few weeks after filing officially started Jan. 28.

“As we have noted, data this early in the filing season has many aberrations and isn’t useful in drawing broad conclusions on refunds overall,” a Treasury Department spokesperson said when the latest batch was released Friday night. “There are many factors that impact refunds on a weekly basis that will normalize over time and lead to useful conclusions.”

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