JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway has issued a subpoena to the Missouri Department of Revenue in an effort to force them to turn over information concerning their management of income tax refunds.
Galloway’s office issued the subpoena late Wednesday morning after they reportedly waited more than six weeks for the requested information.
“The governor and his Department of Revenue are not being transparent with taxpayers,” Galloway said. “If the new administration intends to operate behind a wall of secrecy, I will use the full authority of my office to ensure transparency and accountability.”
The Auditor’s Office had requested the documents as part of an audit seeking to make sure Missourians are receiving their tax refunds within the allotted time period as required by state law. Under statute, the DOR is required to pay out the refunds within 45 days, per a change in the rules in 2015. If they are not paid in that amount of time, then the state must pay with interest.
In a Wednesday morning press conference, the top-ranking statewide elected Democrat said that the Department of Revenue has repeatedly refused multiple requests to provide the State Auditor’s Office with the number of people waiting on refunds or the number of days they’ve spent waiting.
She also said the department has refused to say whether any refunds have exceeded the 45-day limit, and if so, whether interest has been paid.
“To date, I have received no records from the Department of Revenue,” Galloway told reporters. “After repeated follow-up requests, on Monday evening, the department agreed to provide some of the requested information, however, they are refusing to supply any information about their compliance with the tax refund law related to this current year. Without this information, my office cannot determine that the department is giving taxpayers their refunds on time or paying the interest owed.
It’s the first time since she took office that Galloway has used the subpoena, which she says she doesn’t take lightly. She argues that without transparency, there’s no oversight, and the department could do as it pleases. Galloway says that the direction to refuse to cooperate comes from higher up than DOR. She says the direction is from the Governor’s Office.
“There is a lack of transparency that has fallen over state government in the direction of the governor,” Galloway said. “This isn’t the first wall that we’ve run into, and we’re finding a trend here.”
Now that the subpoena has been issued, Galloway says that DOR is ordered to meet with her office in person in the Truman Building on April 28 at 9 a.m.
If they do not show, then Galloway says she intends to file a petition with the Cole County Circuit Court to compel them to do so.
The move has been applauded by the House Democrats.
“Two years ago, the General Assembly recognized that the state Department of Revenue wasn’t always expeditious in providing Missourians their tax refunds,” House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty said in a statement. “So, with strong bipartisan support, we enacted House Bill 517 to cut in half the time the state has to return taxpayers their money from 90 days to 45 days.
“If the revenue department is violating the law, Missourians need to know about it. House Democrats wholeheartedly support State Auditor Galloway’s efforts to hold the Greitens administration accountable and ensure that it doesn’t delay Missourians’ tax refunds for a minute longer than necessary.”