UPDATED: Missouri Auditor Subpoenas Department Of Revenue Over Tax Refunds
Updated, 4:40 p.m. Thursday: The Missouri Department of Revenue has turned a stack of documents over to the State Auditor's Office, according to a news release.
Auditor Nicole Galloway took the unusual step of issuing a subpoena Wednesday after the Department of Revenue failed to comply with an earlier request.
Galloway initiated the audit six weeks ago to ensure Missourians owed tax refunds were being paid on time. State law requires returns not paid within 45 days be paid with interest, which Galloway says isn't good stewardship of taxpayer dollars.
"After weeks of my staff requesting the information and after taking the unprecedented step of issuing a subpoena, my office has received the Department of Revenue's response," Galloway said in a statement. "I am hopeful that in the future the issuance of a subpoena will not be necessary for my office to do its job protecting taxpayers."
According to the news release, the Department of Revenue provided this information routinely during the 2016 tax season but has not this year.
The original post continues below.
Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway on Wednesday issued a subpoena to force the Department of Revenue to turn over information on how it handles income tax returns.
This is the first time Galloway, a Democrat, has issued a subpoena to any government agency.
State law requires income tax refunds to be paid out within 45 days of filing. If refunds haven't been paid within 45 days, the state must pay them with interest. Galloway’s office was auditing the department for compliance with this law.
“This is an unprecedented level of uncooperation,” Galloway says. “Since we initiated this audit six weeks ago we have received no information from the department of revenue,” Galloway says.
She says on Monday, the department has agreed to release previous years' information, but not the current year’s.
Furthermore, she says Governor Greitens' office, which oversees the Department of Revenue, directed the department not to release the information and she says it’s not the first time her office has faced this problem during the current administration.
“What we’re finding is that a wall of secrecy is descending upon state government, and as auditor I am the state’s independent watchdog. I stand on behalf of taxpayers and I am steadfast in my resolve,” she said.
With Missouri in a budget crunch, Galloway says legislators and taxpayers need to know if state money is being paid on interest for late tax returns.
Galloway says she is not requesting any personally identifiable taxpayer information.
Lisa Rodriguez is the afternoon newscaster for KCUR 89.3. Follow her on Twitter @larodrig.
Elle Moxley contributed to this report.