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Tardy tax returns bring tidy refunds

Social Security checks
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Sometimes it pays to be late.

Average tax refunds tend to decline as returns are filed through the four months of tax season, according to CNBC.com's analysis of data from the Internal Revenue Service. (Tweet This) Taxpayers who filed their returns in January this year saw an average refund of $3,539, according to the data. Since then, average refunds have dipped week after week, to $2,329 for the week ending April 3.

Last year, average refunds dipped similarly until late in the year, when taxpayers who filed for extensions to the April 15 deadline settled up. They then jumped from $2,313 in mid-May to more than $7,220 for those who filed in the month of December.