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Our Opinion: Tax refund delays unacceptable

Our Opinion: Tax refund delays unacceptable

July 17th, 2019 in Opinion

The Missouri Department of Revenue continues to have delays in getting out tax refunds.

It’s unknown how many Missourians have complained, but more than 1,000 have taken up the issue with the state auditor’s office.

Media reports previously have said more than 70,000 Missourians were still waiting for their refunds. Some have been waiting for months.

“My office has heard from Missourians who are waiting on their refunds to pay bills and for necessities,” Auditor Nicole Galloway said in a news release. “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.”

Missouri’s DOR has blamed the delays on hitches in the implementation of a new computer system that went online in November 2018.

“Any time you bring a new system online, you can expect some growing pains,” Department of Revenue spokeswoman Anne Marie Moy said in a June 21 KSHB-TV, Kansas City, story.

And a week later, she told the News Tribune: “We are still reviewing returns that were flagged for manual review. Each year, the department issues a significant number of refunds during July and August.”

Granted, rolling out a new computer system that big is a huge endeavor. However, with proper planning and execution, it can be done without “growing pains” of this magnitude.

The department has had previous problems in tax refund timeliness. In 2018, 37 percent of refunds were returned late. However, last year, it made a huge improvement, with just 6 percent refunded late.

And the quicker the refunds are made, the less interest money the state will have to pay for the late payments.

We join the state auditor’s office is asking Gov. Mike Parson to take immediate action to ensure DOR quickly sends tax refunds to the tens of thousands of Missourians still waiting.

Of all interactions people have with their state government, getting money back that’s owed to them is likely considered one of the most important.

As such, the extent that refunds are timely can help determine the amount of trust Missourians have in their government.

News Tribune