Last year the IRS issued more than $403 billion in tax refunds. Benjamin Van Der Spek/EyeEm/Getty Images

During the 2015 fiscal year, the IRS issued more than $403 billion in tax refunds. Benjamin Van Der Spek/EyeEm/Getty Images

The Internal Revenue Service’s main job is to collect taxes. But since most taxpayers have too much money taken out of their paychecks throughout the year, the IRS also sends out refunds.

During fiscal year 2015, which ran from Oct. 1, 2014, through Sept. 30, 2015, the IRS collected more than $3.3 trillion in all types of taxes and issued more than $403 billion in tax refunds.

Individual filers get back billions

More than half of the overall refund amount, roughly $208 billion, was doled out in 10 states, according to data in the just-released IRS 2015 Data Book. And most of the refund money — more than $175 billion — went to individual taxpayers.

As is usually the case when tallying tax numbers, the most populous states of California, Texas, New York and Florida led the tax refund way during the 2015 fiscal year.

Total refund amounts

State All tax types Individual income tax
California $43.7 billion $36.9 billion
Texas $35.3 billion $29.5 billion
New York $26.8 billion $21.7 billion
Florida $22.4 billion $21.0 billion
Illinois $16.2 billion $14.0 billion
Pennsylvania $15.2 billion $12.4 billion
New Jersey $14.6 billion $9.8 billion
Ohio $12.4 billion $11.1 billion
Georgia $11.3 billion $9.8 billion
Michigan $10.2 billion $9.2 billion
Total $208.1 billion $175.4 billion

Source: IRS 2015 Data Book

Refunds are a regular occurrence

Distributing billions in tax refunds is standard operating procedure for the IRS every year.

The previous fiscal year, IRS data show total refunds of almost $374 billion were issued, with more than $330 billion going to individual taxpayers.

The refund trend continues so far in filing season 2016. Through mid-March, the IRS has received almost 82 million individual income returns, which have produced almost $190 billion in refunds for more than 65 million filers. This year’s filing figures through September will be part of next year’s data book analyses.

Are you one of the millions who gets an IRS tax refund each year? If you want to get your money early, as part of your regular paychecks throughout the year, you can adjust your withholding by giving your payroll office a new W-4.

Stay on top of tax news and tips at Bankrate’s Tax Center.

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