By Robert Ross
As a “Make America Great Again” type of guy, I believe the government is not the greatest steward of taxpayer dollars. I have always held it as simple common sense — government doesn’t have the same accountability as businesses do to their customers, or private citizens do to their own households. But here’s the thing, our state government deeply impacts all Missourians, and when it messes up, it can greatly affect Missouri households.
Well, government ineptitude has struck again this year. Thanks to an error in the Department of Revenue’s (DOR) withholding tables and tax calculations, thousands of Missouri households will be facing a rude “April Surprise.” In effect, the state is looking at $532 million less in income tax revenue when compared to this same time last year. At present, it is unclear whether the state will be able to make up for such a shortfall. Many Missourians will be seeing a decreased tax refund, if any at all. This is a bad April Fool’s joke that no one is expecting.
I understand that errors can occur, and people will make mistakes. But this isn’t the first time that DOR has grossly miscalculated and Missourians have suffered for it. In 2013 they handed the Social Security Administration the list of Concealed Carry Weapons (CCW) holders and then lied about it to the public. Just last year, they miscalculated the cost of a certain piece of legislation, finding it would cost the state (and taxpayers) $50 million more than originally estimated. Protecting the taxpayer is obviously not the top priority for these bureaucrats.
However, the real issue has got to be the deception, secrecy, and tight lips of DOR. Rather than notifying Missourians to adjust their withholding or to prepare for little to no tax refund, they apparently can’t find the words. It took some serious questioning from myself and other representatives to get any answers from DOR about this mistake. When the state vehicle license plates got a makeover, DOR was more than excited to share the news through press releases and social media and to make sure Missourians were aware of the changes coming to our new plates. While a license plate celebrating Missouri’s bicentennial anniversary is great, the DOR should be informing taxpayers of this error and how to prepare for it even more rigorously than they did a new license plate.
I find it ridiculous that a government agency created specifically to gauge, forecast, and collect revenue keeps failing at its job. This is just one reason why we need to improve the accountability and efficiency of our government while shrinking it down to size. Bureaucrats are not interested in serving the interests of taxpayers; their first priority is justifying their own job.
Rural Missourians don’t live with unaccountability in their households, around the farm, or in their businesses; and I’ll keep fighting to cut it out of state government as well.
Rep. Robert Ross represents the 142nd District in the Missouri House of Representatives. Ross recently amended his campaign committee to seek the Republican nomination to replace Sen. Mike Cunningham, to represent the counties of Douglas, Howell, Oregon, Ozark, Ripley, Texas, Webster and Wright in the Missouri Senate.