With tax season upon us, San Diego’s TurboTax, a unit of Intuit Inc., put out some positive news for those getting refunds.

The nation’s taxpayers will receive an estimated $230 billion in federal tax refunds this year, with about $140 billion of that in consumers’ pockets by Feb. 15.

This money is especially vital for an estimated 40 percent of the U.S. households living paycheck to paycheck, TurboTax said.

In 2012, the average tax refund was $2,700, which equaled the monthly income for about two-thirds of taxpayers or more than three months of groceries for the average family of four, the report said.

Bernie McKay, director of TurboTax’s American Tax and Financial Center, said low income households use tax withholding and the resulting refund almost like a savings fund, and use it to pay down debt or to cover everyday expenses.

TurboTax said that about 84 percent of taxpayers that file their returns from January to Feb. 15 receive a refund, compared with only half of those filing in April.

--SDBJ Staff Report