$101: How much less the average tax refund was in 2012 compared with 2011, as of the week ending April 6.

The U.S. Treasury has paid out less this year in tax refunds than last. That could disappoint consumers, but may be good news for politicians.

The government has paid out $227.45 billion so far this year in refunds, down 2.8% from $234.12 billion through the comparable week in 2011, according to Treasury data parsed by Stone & McCarthy Research. Meanwhile, the average 2012 refund has dropped to $2,794 from $2,895 last year. That comes even as the Internal Revenue Service has processed more returns this year than last.

Those numbers may shift over coming weeks as the flood of last-minute tax returns come in, but if the trend continues it could mean taxpayers will have less money in their pockets this spring.

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