For more news about the COVID-19 coronavirus, access the News Tribune Health section.
The Missouri Department of Revenue said it's about on track with processing tax refunds as compared to this time last year. However, the department expects this year's later filing deadline to delay filing of some returns — which will have an effect on the state's budget.
This year's tax filing deadline was moved from April 15 to July 15 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We do expect a portion of our returns to be delayed until July. We have seen a decline in returns filed since April 1, in comparison to the volume filed last year," DOR spokeswoman Anne Marie Moy said.
As of April 8, Moy said, the department had issued 1.1 million refunds, with 197,000 refund claims received but not yet issued.
"On this date in 2019, the department had also issued 1.2 million refunds, and there were approximately 203,000 refund claims that had been received but not issued," Moy said.
State Budget Director Dan Haug told lawmakers last week the delayed tax filing date this year would, for the state, push approximately $400 million in revenue into the next fiscal year.
That's $400 million less in revenue for the state for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30.
Decreased income, sales and other tax revenues during the pandemic are contributing to a projected $500 million budget shortfall for the remainder of the fiscal year — which the state has planned to fill with increased federal Medicaid funding and $180 million of budget withholdings that affect several state departments but hit Missouri's colleges and universities the most severely.
The state is not the only party wondering when or how much payment it will receive based on tax returns.
The U.S. Treasury Department and IRS expect federal economic impact payments — part of a federal economic stimulus package in response to the pandemic — to begin to be distributed this month.
Most people eligible to receive payment — which is based on income-level cut-offs — do not need to take any action to receive it because the IRS will use 2018 or 2019 tax returns to calculate the payments and payment will be automatically deposited to whatever bank account is listed on the return.
The IRS will use a 2018 tax return if 2019's has not yet been filed.
Among people who don't normally have to file tax returns, the IRS has previously stated seniors, Social Security recipients and railroad retirees would not have to file in order to receive payment because the agency would use information available on other tax documents.
That's still the case, but the guidance left low-income workers and certain veterans and people with disabilities wondering whether they need to file a tax return to receive payment.
People in those groups are eligible for payment, and though guidance on "the steps to take to get their payment as soon as possible" has not yet been provided — but "will soon" be — people can use an online tool to see if they have a filing requirement, according to the IRS.
That tool is available at irs.gov/help/ita/do-i-need-to-file-a-tax-return. To use it — an estimated 12-minute process — people will need their filing status, federal income tax withheld and "basic information to help you determine your gross income."
Those who do receive an economic impact payment should also be on the lookout for a letter from the IRS: "For security reasons, the IRS plans to mail a letter about the economic impact payment to the taxpayer's last known address within 15 days after the payment is paid. The letter will provide information on how the payment was made and how to report any failure to receive the payment. If a taxpayer is unsure they're receiving a legitimate letter, the IRS urges taxpayers to visit IRS.gov first to protect against scam artists."
More key information will be posted at IRS.gov/coronavirus as it's available.
Earlier tax refunds still not processed?
When asked whether any tax returns from 2018 have not yet had refunds processed, Moy said: "There are approximately 300 refund claims filed before Jan. 1, 2020, that remain outstanding."
She added, "A significant portion of those claims are tied to apportioned tax credits," which slows down the process because the department must hold the credits until all such claims have been filed and processed, to then determine if to apportion the credit between all the claimants.