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Americans are slow to do their tax returns this year – is a new law to blame?

Around 5.5 million fewer Americans have submitted their tax returns compared to the same period last year.
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If you're dragging your feet when it comes to sending in your tax return, you're not alone.

Around 5.5 million fewer Americans have submitted their tax returns compared to the same period last year, according to IRS filing statistics.

That represents a drop of 8.5 percent, with only just over 61 million Americans having sent in their tax return.

Of those who have submitted returns, around 49.3 million of them have received refunds totaling $148.832 billion, working out at around $3,016 per refund.

While speculating whether the current political climate or procrastination is behind the lag, Time Money reports that there could be another reason why people have been slower to submit their tax returns this year – extra security designed to crack down on tax fraud.

This past November, the government announced that it would not start issuing tax refunds for some filers until a few weeks after tax season started on Jan. 23.

Anyone claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) had to wait longer thanks to the Protecting Americans From Tax Hikes Act of 2015.

The IRS didn't start processing refunds for people claiming either of these credits until Feb. 15, saying the additional time helps it "stop fraudulent refunds from being issued to identity thieves and fraudulent claims with fabricated wages and withholdings."

Bloomberg said this delay would have affected the millions who file their taxes as early as possible to get their refunds quickly, and in turn could have thrown a wrench in consumer behavior.

"It's not highly publicized, but it will impact a lot of the hardest working and will hit them early and the most difficult period," said Mark Steber, chief tax office at preparer Jackson Hewitt, told Time Money.

If you haven't filed yet, you have until April 18.

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