State Auditor Nicole Galloway today again called on Gov. Mike Parson to take action to help Missourians who are still waiting for their 2018 state tax refunds. The request comes in response to a letter from the Governor's Office that failed to offer a plan for getting thousands of Missourians the money they are owed after months of delay.
"My role as State Auditor is to act as the independent watchdog on behalf of citizens," Auditor Galloway said in a letter delivered today to the Governor's Office. "While Missourians rely on their elected legislators to pass legislation to protect and help them, they depend on the state's Chief Executive to implement those laws. Taxpayers who have been waiting for months for their refunds have come to my office seeking both answers and help. I am committed to and serious about providing Missourians with a solution."
Since May, the State Auditor's Office has received an increasing number of contacts from taxpayers concerned about delays in receiving their refunds. The State Auditor's Office started communicating directly with the Department of Revenue to try to get answers for taxpayers.
"The responses from the department to my earlier letters have been unsatisfactory and taxpayers are continuing to contact my office," Auditor Galloway said. "Even more concerning, communication from the department to these waiting taxpayers -- when they have been able to get responses at all -- has been inadequate."
In a July 11 letter to the Governor, Auditor Galloway asked for immediate action to address the delays. The response from the Governor's Office did not include a plan for addressing delayed refunds. The department recently reported to the media that they are still processing tens of thousands of refunds.
Previous work by Auditor Galloway related to the timeliness of tax refunds includes an audit released in January 2018. During the audit process, the State Auditor's Office had to subpoena information from the department related to fiscal years 2012 to 2016. In part because of the delays caused by the department, the audit report examined the timeliness of tax refunds during fiscal years 2016 and 2017, during the administrations of Gov. Nixon and Gov. Greitens. The audit found that state income tax refunds to individual taxpayers had become increasingly and deliberately delayed. While an audit released in early 2019 showed an improvement in the timeliness of refunds for fiscal year 2018, media reports and complaints from taxpayers indicate there are again issues that need to be addressed.
To date, the State Auditor's Office has contacted the Department of Revenue on behalf of 1,400 taxpayers in an effort to get answers. These individuals asked for the office's help in getting their tax refunds and, with their explicit permission, the State Auditor's Office passed along contact information and some details about their refund.
Auditor Galloway said her office will continue to work on behalf of citizens to process their complaints and get answers. Taxpayers whose tax refunds have been delayed can contact the State Auditor's Whistleblower Hotline at 800-347-8597 or at email@example.com.
The letter to the Governor can be found here.