U.S. tax refunds
U.S. tax refunds are on track to modestly undershoot the levels of the past three years, following volatile swings earlier this year related to refund delays, but a fairly stable pattern for refunds through the week of April 19. Analysts peg this year's refunds at $282 B, versus recent levels of $293 B in 2018, $289 B in 2017, and $284 B in 2016. Analysts saw a lower $274 B refund level in 2015, and an all-time high of $298 B in 2010. Refunds earlier this year tracked well below the norm, and likely depressed retail sales through February. Analysts saw a big refund spike in late-February that nearly brought the year's refunds back to the norm, but analysts have been tracking consistently just below this ever since. Analysts still have some uncertainty regarding the annual totals for refunds, given that some higher-income late-filers may face refunds due to shifts out of exposure to the alternative minimum tax. Our assumption of a modest 2019 refund undershoot incorporates "normal" levels of refunds over the coming weeks.