State Auditor Nicole Galloway has subpoenaed the Missouri Department of Revenue over its failure to comply with an audit.
Galloway’s office is trying to get information on the department’s management of tax refunds, and has not received performance data for fiscal 2017. She says there’s a lack of transparency which starts with Governor Eric Greitens.
“The department is operating at the direction of the governor’s office” said Galloway. “The highest levels of my staff have met and corresponded with the governor’s legal counsel, their chief of staff and their deputy chief of staff. This wall of secrecy that we’re seeing cannot be allowed to descend on state government.”
Galloway, a Democrat, claims she’s been stonewalled by the Republican governor for six weeks. Her office has requested the Department of Revenue provide the information being subpoenaed during a face-to-face meeting on April 29th.
“We’ll have my legal and my audit staff available at that time, along with a court reporter, so they can enter into the record what the information is that they (Revenue Department) are presenting to comply with the subpoena” Galloway said.
If the Revenue Department fails to show up, Galloway says her office will file a petition in the Cole County Circuit Court seeking an order of the court, asking it to compel the department to provide the information.
Galloway specified she wasn’t asking for any names or personal information.
One function of the audit is to find out if the department is complying with a 2015 law which requires it to process tax returns and issue refunds within 45-days, or start paying interest.
Galloway says the department provided information for fiscal year 2016, but remained silent for six weeks about whether it was even keeping track of the data from fiscal 2017.
“Up until Monday, after six weeks, they wouldn’t even answer yes or no. Finally they said ‘Yes, we do have this. But no, we will not provide you the electronic report’”.
According to Galloway, the audit is part of a series of inquiries targeting items that impact the state budget. Any interest paid on late refunds would be financed with taxpayer money, and would affect the budget.
House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty (D-Kansas City) issued a statement praising the audit Tuesday. In it, she noted the legislature passed a law two years ago reducing the number of days from 90-to-45 in which the state was allowed to process refunds without paying interest.
“If the revenue department is violating the law, Missourians need to know about it” said McCann Beatty.
Galloway contends the audit will show if tax payers are getting short changed under the new law.
“First and foremost, this is citizens’ money. These are Missourians’ dollars at play. They deserve to get their refunds, and they deserve to know that if they’re not getting them on time, they’re getting their interest.”
Galloway claims she’s been stonewalled by Greitens on at least one other occasion since he took office in January. She says the governor’s office hasn’t provided information for a close-out audit of the previous administration under Governor Jay Nixon.
Neither Greitens office nor the Department of Revenue responded to a request by Missourinet for comment about the audit.