American tax payers are filing earlier and receiving larger refunds for tax year 2008, according the the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.

As of Feb. 27, 2009, the IRS had received 56 million individual tax returns, which they said was higher than the same time during the 2007 tax filing season.

The average refund so far is $2,869, a 9 percent or $232 increase compared with the same time last year. The IRS cites tax payers taking advantage of the first time home buyer tax credit, the recovery rebate credit and an additional standard deduction for real estate taxes.

So, if you’re a home owner, it sounds like you can use that to your advantage perhaps more than usual on your 2008 tax return.

The average refund should decline as the tax season progresses, according to IRS.

Another interesting factoid is that more than 84 percent of tax payers now receive their refunds via direct deposit. This is up from 81 percent during the same time last year.

March 6, 2009.