According to an AP story I read today, the IRS has already issued 73.6 million refunds to the tune of $174 billion ($2,366 per refund, the story says). That's a pretty nice loan program the government has going for itself.
Let's assume that Joe and Mary Taxpayer invested that $2,366 conservatively, in a 12-month CD (rates listed today at bankrate.com suggest they'd get a 4.8 percent return). That'd be a nice little pile of ice-cream money, about $115.
Let's assume the federales had the same idea. Of course, they can't save up for a year and then invest the money, so let's say they put half the money in a six-month CD (I'd love to see that document), for a return of 4.5 percent. That'd be a nice little pile of ice cream money, too, about $3.9 billion.
As I've written previously, the national taxpayer advocate has the annual job of coming up with the top 20 (or more) problems facing the American taxpayer. I notice she (her name is Nina E. Olson) has nothing to say about this business.
Maybe this is all for the best - overpayment ensures the bill will be covered, whereas given our country's deplorable savings rates underpayment might simply lead to nonpayment. Still, I'm not that fond of having Big Brother playing parent with my money.