State Department of Revenue (DOR) officials are expected to testify again Wednesday before a bipartisan Missouri House oversight committee in Jefferson City. Today’s hearing will be the third time this month that DOR has testified before the House committee.

Missouri House Special Committee on Government Oversight Chairman Robert Ross speaks at the Statehouse on February 13, 2019 (file photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at House Communications)

Governor Mike Parson (R) issued a statement to Missourinet last week, after the second oversight committee hearing. The governor says his office has worked with DOR “to correct the problem and focus on solutions, not political grandstanding.”

DOR Director Joel Walters testified last week that a tax error impacting some people’s tax returns dates back to 2004.

“For example, that you can do an average person making $30,000, that one change was worth about three dollars per paycheck,” Walters says.

Walters also testified last week that the impact of the federal 2017 tax cut is a primary reason for lower state tax refunds this year.

He says DOR is placing cards at all license offices and is mailing fliers to employers requesting that they post the information in employee break rooms.

Meantime, the chairman of the bipartisan oversight committee questions DOR’s testimony earlier this month that it launched a “social media campaign” in September to inform taxpayers about the issue.

House Special Committee on Government Oversight Chair Robert Ross, R-Yukon, tells Missourinet the Department of Revenue has about 900 Facebook and about 2,400 Twitter followers.

“With 3.6 million taxpayers in the state of Missouri, it’s ridiculous to even call that a campaign, a social media campaign,” says Ross.

DOR has created a dedicated phone line to answer questions from Missouri taxpayers. That number is (573) 522-0967.

Director Walters has testified that state tax refunds are about $80 lower than a year ago, in part because of the inaccurate tax calculation.

Chairman Ross says the Department of Revenue has not been forthright about the tax error, saying that it’s Director Walters’ job to communicate with taxpayers.

“I want them (taxpayers) to have the stability of knowing what is coming,” Ross says. “I think that’s the director’s responsibility and think that he should do a better job in explaining to the taxpayers what’s going on and what they should expect.”

Wednesday’s oversight committee hearing is scheduled for 12:30 p.m., or 30 minutes upon adjournment.

Governor Parson issued a statement on Thursday to Missourinet, about the hearings and the tax issue. Governor Parson notes he’s signed into law the nation’s 14th lowest income tax rate, adding that the federal “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” signed by President Donald Trump and the recent state income tax cut will benefit millions of Missourians.

The rest of Governor Parson’s statement involves the tax error and the committee hearings. It reads, in its entirety:

Missouri Legislators’ argument that individuals should want to give a zero percent interest loan to the government throughout the year is ridiculous.
Since this years’ session began, Director Walters has testified at ten hearings where the withholding issue was discussed. Our office is aware of the decade old mistake that was found in the withholding tables and have worked with the department to correct the problem and focus on solutions, not political grandstanding.
In numerous one-on-one meetings and in public testimony, Director Walters has clearly identified the issue and shared the department’s planned process to help individuals that may be affected.

Click here to listen to the full interview between Missourinet’s Brian Hauswirth and House Special Committee on Government Oversight Chairman Robert Ross, R-Yukon, which was recorded on February 20, 2019 at the Statehouse in Jefferson City, after the second hearing: