JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A new audit released by State Auditor Nicole Galloway’s office shows that the Show-Me State issued income tax refunds later last year, citing a lack of money as the main cause.
According to the report, issued on Monday, the state was late in issuing refunds to at least 555,000 individual taxpayers during the last fiscal year, and because of that, the state paid more than $420,000 in interest.
That’s because the state law requires interest to be paid if the refunds are not issued within 45 days of the filings.
According to the audit, the numbers are up from the previous year, which saw about 485,000 refunds issued later than the deadline and cost the state about $306,000 in interest.
“The administration is balancing its checkbook on the backs of individual taxpaying Missourians – that is simply unacceptable,” Auditor Galloway said. “Throughout this audit, my office received thousands of calls and e-mails from taxpayers who were rightfully frustrated because they were not receiving the money they were owed. “
The audit found the reasons for the increased delays in issuing refunds was due to the administration paying other state expenses before paying taxpayers’ refunds.
The audit also found that at one point during the 2017 tax season, the Department of Revenue had $200 million worth of refunds processed and ready to be paid to citizens of the state, but the Office of Administration directed the Department of Revenue not to pay the refunds because other spending priorities came first. The report also shows that DOR did not pay the refunds in the order they were received, but instead gave priority to paying the larger refunds first in order to avoid paying large interest payments.
You can read the full audit report here.
Benjamin Peters was a reporter for The Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine and also produced the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined The Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield.