When will Missouri taxpayers get their state tax refunds? State Auditor Nicole Galloway wants to know.
On Thursday, July 11, she sent a letter to Gov. Mike Parson asking him to take action to help thousands of Missourians who are still waiting for their tax refunds, often after months of delay.
"My office has heard from Missourians who are waiting on their refunds to pay bills and for necessities," Galloway wrote to Parson. "Those bills can't get paid with canned responses and generic excuses. Taxes are processed at the same time every year. There is no excuse for taxpayers to be experiencing this level of dysfunction."
Parson’s office did not immediately return a request for comment on Galloway’s letter. His response will be included if received.
Galloway said her office previously has sent several letters to the acting director of the Department of Revenue about the situation, copying the govenor. "As you oversee the Department of Revenue, I'm asking for immediate action to address the backlog of delayed refunds," Galloway wrote to the governor.
Galloway referenced recent media reports in which the Department of Revenue, which reports to the governor, stated more than 70,000 Missourians are waiting on their refunds. Galloway said that more than 1,000 of those individuals, many of whom are seniors or have disabilities or lower incomes, have contacted her office asking for help in getting answers about their the delayed refunds.
While the state auditor has no authority over the Department of Revenue or tax returns, Galloway has made statewide news for her audits on the timeliness of tax refunds. The audit released in January 2018 showed that state income tax refunds to individual taxpayers had become increasingly and deliberately delayed, while the audit released in early 2019 showed an improvement in the timeliness of refunds. Galloway said it now appears the timeliness of refunds is again getting worse.
Galloway asked Parson for a “plan of action” on returning all tax refunds within two weeks, as well as an update on the more than 1,000 taxpayers who have contacted her office and whose concerns she has previously brought to the governor’s attention.
The Missouri Democratic Party has questioned whether Parson has withheld tax refunds in an effort to wait for a tax cut. If the state’s revenue growth exceeds 1 percent, a state tax cut would be triggered. The state has not met that threshold yet.
“Either the administration is incompetent or this is an excuse for a fiscal strategy intended to trigger tax cuts ahead of a campaign launch,” Missouri Democratic Party Executive Director Lauren Gepford said in a statement. “If Parson held back tax refunds for tens of thousands of Missouri taxpayers in a failed effort to implement a tax cut then those taxpayers still waiting for a refund deserve accountability.”
Galloway, the only Democrat who holds statewide office, is expected to challenge Parson for governor next year. Parson was elected lieutenant governor in 2016 and became governor when Eric Greitens resigned.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.