State Auditor Nicole Galloway says the Missouri Revenue Department illegally changed tax withholdings in January. She released the findings Tuesday of an audit conducted by her office. During a press conference at the state Capitol in Jefferson City, Galloway says the agency should have informed a legislative rules committee of the change.
“This would’ve allowed for review by the Joint Committee on Rules – giving elected officials notice of the changes and an opportunity for input,” she says. “More importantly, the process would’ve allowed for notice and comment from the public – the very taxpayers affected by the change. Instead, the department failed to follow the law. It’s yet another example of Governor Parson’s department making decisions that directly impact the daily lives of Missourians without clearly communicating to citizens.”
Galloway says the department’s move was made to over-withhold taxes from many Missouri taxpayers.
“An additional $63 million is expected to come out of the paychecks of Missourians,” she says. “It will affect over half of Missourians – middle income and lower income Missouri families.”
After five hearings by a bipartisan House committee on the department’s failure to communicate to the public about another tax withholding issue, Joel Walters resigned last month as Revenue Department director. Galloway, a Democrat, says Gov. Mike Parson’s administration should take responsibility for the recent tax problems.
“They left individual taxpayers in the dark. This January change never came up. It was never talked about. The administration never disclosed this to the bipartisan review committee. The decision to take more money out of paychecks without following the law shows a clear pattern of mismanagement. The resignation of one unelected bureaucrat does not equate to accountability,” says Galloway. “This is leading to confusion for individual taxpayers and distrust in this process.”
In a statement from Governor Parson, a Republican, he says his administration’s focus “has consistently been on reforming and reducing taxes for hardworking Missouri families and small businesses”.
“We’re not interested in engaging with someone that prioritizes partisan politics and scare tactics over the long-term benefits of federal and state income tax cuts,” Parson says. But, to the Auditor’s office credit, they have been consistent – consistent in fighting the implementation of common sense tax cuts every step of the way. Further, the auditor’s office press release was clearly meant to politically pander because it ignores the positive progress the department has made in processing tax refunds. While we are aware that bureaucratic challenges exist, we are committed to working with new leadership within the Department of Revenue to ensure Missourians receive the full benefits of the historic federal and state income tax cuts that were signed into law last year.”
To view the auditor’s report, click here.
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