Missouri auditor says government is deliberately delaying tax refunds to pay other debts

Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- If you've noticed your state tax refund comes later each year, there's a reason -- at least on the Missouri side, where the state's top watchdog says the government deliberately delays certain refunds.

That's because Missouri needs your refund to pay for other bills, according to Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway.

She looked into a complaint shared by a lot of Missourians.

"When Missourians are contacting my office by the thousands, trying to get answers on their tax refunds, it is my job to investigate and get to the bottom of it," Galloway said.

Galloway's new report looks at a 2015 law. It established a timer. You're supposed to get your refund within 45 days of filing.

But Galloway said hundreds of thousands are waiting longer than that.

"They may wait up to four months as the state pays other bills and pushes of people ahead of them in line," she said.

Galloway blames the government's borrowing habit. Since the recession, money in the general fund has dropped. Even if your refund is processed and ready, the state may delay it to pay for other debts.

"That means taxpayers are put second while the legislature and the governor's priorities are put first," Galloway said.

Galloway also found late refunds are costing the state extra money because they accrue interest. Since the new 45-day law, Missouri has spent around $730,000 dollars just on that interest.

Because Missouri is still borrowing to keep the budget in order, Galloway expects this year's refunds will face similar delays.

Read the full audit report here.

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