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Frustration in Revenue boils over

Frustration in Revenue boils over

March 21st, 2019 in Opinion

State Rep. Rudy Veit is frustrated with the Missouri Department of Revenue, and he’s not the only one.

Legislators have a right to be frustrated. They’ve been given varying pictures of the state’s revenue. A month ago, they were told revenue was down $250 million. Now, they’re being told the shortfall is up to $350 million.

For lawmakers to do their job of finalizing the state’s budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, they need accurate numbers.

The revenue shortfall is blamed on the 2017 federal income tax reduction, which affects Missouri.

First the Revenue department said they made an error in withholding that would cause many people to owe the state more in their state income tax. Then, Revenue officials said they didn’t make a withholding error.

The confusing mixed signals and criticism of the department have led to the resignation of the department’s director, Joel Walters.

Walters resigned a day after the Columbia Daily Tribune reported the department drafted a press release late last year advising taxpayers to increase their withholdings from paychecks. The idea was to give advance warning that they might owe more, so they should withhold more. The only problem is the news release never was disseminated.

So, just as lawmakers have a right to be frustrated, so do taxpayers.

Gov. Parson has complained that lawmakers have been “grandstanding” on Revenue’s tax blunders.

But lawmakers have a right to grouse — the issue not only makes the department look incompetent, it affects the lives of Missourians.

Walters’ departure may signal the state takes the issue seriously, but the Missouri Department of Revenue still owes Missourians a better and more thorough explanation than they’ve been given.

News Tribune