State tax refunds for most Missourians who filed their returns on time in April have been received or will be in the mail by the end of business tomorrow. But if it had not been for 250-million dollars in federal stimulus money coming to the state, a lot of Missourians might still be waiting for their refunds. Tax collections through May are down by a percent-and-a-half while the amount the state owed in refunds was up more than seven percent. That has put the revenue department in a squeeze that threatened to delay refunds even more than they had been delayed.
But department spokesman Ted Farnen says the federal money let the department avoid repeats of some past years. He recalls refunds being delayed three times in the last eight years when the economy was weak. But Farnen says the state could not delay refunds this year because it had the money to make them and because taxpayers deserve to have their money back.
Farnen says refunds to some people might still be delayed. Those who filed at the last minute so their returns did not get to the department until April 17th or 18th or so, or those that made mistakes in filling out forms or those who filed amended returns for previous years—-those folks might still be waiting.
State officials say the department had sent out almost 1.3-billion dollars in refunds through May—about 90-million dollars more than last year—at a time when state income is down about 90-million. That’s a 180-million dollar gap that the federal money has more than filled.