Jefferson City, MO - If you are are wondering about a refund from the State of Missouri, State Auditor Nicole Galloway may have found out why you don't yet have your money.
Galloway says an audit of the Department of Revenue's tax division revealed an oversight not making millions of dollars owed back to taxpayers each year searchable by the taxpayer. The problem lies in a two-year tax transparency gap where refunds owed to taxpayers are only searchable online within the first year the money is due, and then removed and made available online again two years later when the money is turned over to the state's unclaimed property rolls.
There is currently an estimated $3 million dollars in refunds that are currently due, but hidden from public view.
Galloway said, "Regardless of the reason a tax refund check is not cashed, whether it's due to a move, a wrong address in the system, or lost or stolen mail, these circumstances do not change the fact that this money belongs to the taxpayer," Galloway added that, "State government should work together, at the bare minimum, to ensure taxpayers looking for past due refund amounts have a simple, easily accessible way to search for money that is rightfully theirs."
Galloway's office reviewed the DOR's procedures for tax refund checks that are mailed out, but never cashed. According to policy, if a check is returned as undeliverable, the information is added to the department's Returned Refund Checks web page. After one year the check is voided, and the information is removed from the website and forwarded to the Treasurer's Office. After three years from issue date, and if the Treasurer's Office is unable to find the individual, the money goes into the Unclaimed Property Database.
That means for those two years between the time the check is voided at the one-year mark, and entered into the Unclaimed Property Database at the three-year mark, the records are not publicly available to anyone looking to claim their past tax refunds.
During the time of the audit, 6,000 undelivered tax refund checks totaling nearly $1.3 million were listed on the Department of Revenue's website, and about 30,000 uncashed refunds totaling nearly $4.5 million were turned over to the State Treasurer's Office.
A complete copy of the audit report is available online at www.auditor.mo.gov.