With the deadline for filing income tax returns less than two weeks away, Utahns are no doubt ready for some good news about taxes. Here it is: Taxpayers stand a good chance of getting more money back from the state this year.

According to the Utah State Tax Commission, state income tax refunds are averaging $280 so far this year. That's $15 more than the 1987 average.Taxpayers are also getting their refunds faster. As of March 27, more than 169,000 Utahns had received their share of $47.5 million in income tax refunds - 100,000 more than had received their money by the same time last year.

There's even good news for Utahns who had to pay additional income taxes. The Tax Commission said that the amount such taxpayers have paid to date has been about $120 less than the average amount owed last year.

The reason Utah taxpayers are able to keep more money in their pockets this year is the reduction in tax rates approved by lawmakers during a special session of the Legislature in July 1988.

While that special session is probably better known for the income tax rebates Utahns received last fall, lawmakers also reduced state income tax rates retroactively to Jan. 1, 1988.

Many employers did not switch to the new income tax withholding rate schedules until the end of the year, meaning a lot of Utahns had too much taken out of their checks for the entire year.

The word may have already gotten out about the fatter checks being sent out by the state. Already, 43 percent of the state's residents have filed, up 36 percent from the same time last year.