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States With the Biggest Tax Refunds

Uncle Sam Pays Who?

Last year, the Internal Revenue Service returned more than $332.8 billion to people who filed an individual income tax return. This means that, on average, taxpayers received a $2,690 check from Uncle Sam in 2010, a figure that we’re on course to meet again in 2011.

Preliminary statistics released by the IRS late last week have the average tax return hovering around $3,129 this year, but those numbers tend to go down as April 15 approaches and more people file. At this time last year, the average was a bit higher at $3,149.

In sifting through last year’s statistics, MainStreet wondered if one state was more likely to get back more money than others. Using IRS data from the 2009 tax year, we divided the amount of individual income tax refund dollars received in each state by the number of individual tax returns filed there to get the average refund given in every state.

Read on to find out if you live in a state that has tax filers that collected the highest – or lowest – average refund from the government in 2009. We’ll tackle the 10 states with the lowest refunds first and then look at who made out best for tax refunds last year.

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10th Smallest Average Refund: South Dakota

Number of Individual Income Tax Returns Filed: 321,538

Amount of Individual Income Tax Refund Dollars Received: $747,393

Average Refund per Person: $2,324

Photo Credit:  Pink Sherbert Photography

9th Smallest Refund: Hawaii

Number of Individual Income Tax Returns Filed: 561,241

Amount of Individual Income Tax Refund Dollars Received: $1,302,790

Average Refund per Person: $2,321

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8th Smallest Refund: Nebraska

Number of Individual Income Tax Returns Filed: 715,961

Amount of Individual Income Tax Refund Dollars Received: $1,660,003

Average Refund per Person: $2,319

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7th Smallest Refund: Alaska

Number of Individual Income Tax Returns Filed: 267,141

Amount of Individual Income Tax Refund Dollars Received: $618,513

Average Refund per Person: $2,315

Photo Credit:  Alaskan Dude

6th Smallest Refund: Wisconsin

Number of Individual Income Tax Returns Filed: 2,335,626

Amount of Individual Income Tax Refund Dollars Received: $5,405,690

Average Refund per Person: $2,314

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5th Smallest Refund: North Dakota


Number of Individual Income Tax Returns Filed: 257,557

Amount of Individual Income Tax Refund Dollars Received: $588,629

Average Refund per Person: $2,285

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4th Smallest Refund: West Virginia

Number of Individual Income Tax Returns Filed: 701,936

Amount of Individual Income Tax Refund Dollars Received: $1,580,252

Average Refund per Person: $2,251

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3rd Smallest Refund: Vermont

Number of Individual Income Tax Returns Filed: 268,981

Amount of Individual Income Tax Refund Dollars Received: $597,855

Average Refund per Person: $2,223

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2nd Smallest Refund: Maine

Number of Individual Income Tax Returns Filed: 551,147

Amount of Individual Income Tax Refund Dollars Received: $1,192,024

Average Refund per Person: $2,163

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State with the Smallest Refund: Montana


Number of Individual Income Tax Returns Filed: 390,645

Amount of Individual Income Tax Refund Dollars Received: $838,104

Average Refund per Person: $2,145

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10th Largest Refund: Illinois

Number of Individual Income Tax Returns Filed: 5,317,904

Amount of Individual Income Tax Refund Dollars Received: $14,955,215

Average Refund per Person: $2,812

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9th Largest Refund: New York

Number of Individual Income Tax Returns Filed: 7,896,076

Amount of Individual Income Tax Refund Dollars Received: $22,281,025

Average Refund per Person: $2,822

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8th Largest Refund: Texas

Number of Individual Income Tax Returns Filed: 9,576,956

Amount of Individual Income Tax Refund Dollars Received: $27,139,650

Average Refund per Person: $2,834

Photo Credit: Paul Garland

7th Largest Refund: California

Number of Individual Income Tax Returns Filed: 13,951,427

Amount of Individual Income Tax Refund Dollars Received: $39,928,472

Average Refund per Person: $2,862

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6th Largest Refund: Washington, D.C.

Number of Individual Income Tax Returns Filed: 261,974

Amount of Individual Income Tax Refund Dollars Received: $752,070

Average Refund per Person: $2,881

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5th Largest Refund: Florida

Number of Individual Income Tax Returns Filed: 7,858,774

Amount of Individual Income Tax Refund Dollars Received: $23,009,119

Average Refund per Person: $2,928

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4th Largest Refund: New Jersey

Number of Individual Income Tax Returns Filed: 3,646,427

Amount of Individual Income Tax Refund Dollars Received: $10,825,688

Average Refund per Person: $2,969

Photo Credit: shanafin

3rd Largest Refund: Connecticut

Number of Individual Income Tax Returns Filed: 1,476,212

Amount of Individual Income Tax Refund Dollars Received: $4,439,106

Average Refund per Person: $3,007

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2nd Largest Refund: Wyoming


Number of Individual Income Tax Returns Filed: 234,202

Amount of Individual Income Tax Refund Dollars Received: $721,430

Average Refund per Person: $3,080

Photo Credit:  Whatleydude

State with the Largest Refund: Nevada

Number of Individual Income Tax Returns Filed: 1,125,764

Amount of Individual Income Tax Refund Dollars Received: $3,483,981

Average Refund per Person: $3,094

Photo Credit:  matze_ott

13 Common Tax Mistakes

Filing your own taxes this year? MainStreet put together some tips for how you can ensure that things go smoothly. For starters, read about the 13 common mistakes that many Americans make when preparing this returns or just check out our taxes hot topic for all the latest tips and tricks to maximize your refund!

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