JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Tens of thousands of Missouri taxpayers are still waiting on their 2018 tax refund and the state's bill for the late payments is racking up.
As of July 1, the state Department of Revenue paid taxpayers $641,000 in interest. Last year the department only paid a total of $219,581 to taxpayers for late refunds, according to DOR counsel Daniel Follett.
Interest payments come out of the state's general revenue fund, which pays for a variety of departments, including education.
The department is still processing about 71,000 individual refunds worth at least $8.5 million. Tax refunds issued by the state were considered late as of June 1.
When asked what was causing the delays, the department's communications director, Anne Marie Moy, said a computer systems change in November was causing "growing pains." Moy did not respond to ABC 17's request to elaborate on Monday.
Missouri's Department of Revenue is headed by acting Director Ken Zellers, who took over after Joel Walters resigned from the position in March amid criticism from lawmakers for an apparent cover-up of mistakes made with state withholding tables.
A spokesperson for Gov. Mike Parson's office told ABC 17 Monday that there is no update in the search for a permanent department head. Kelli Jones, Parson's press secretary, said in an email statement that the governor "has full confidence" in Zellers.
"This administration will continue to monitor the ongoing progress, ensure we are being responsive to concerns from individual taxpayers, and make necessary improvements so that Missourians receive the full benefits of historic federal and state income tax cuts," Jones said.
Perry Weaver, a 25-year Boone County resident, told ABC 17 that his refund is still pending after he filed his tax return in February.
Weaver said he's signed up for text alerts through the DOR website and has called the department hoping to learn what's causing the delay. So far, he's not heard anything from the department.
"Give me some answers about what’s going on, I mean I’d understand. Just let me know what’s going on. Every system’s got problems... but communicate," Weaver said. "I think our government could be better organized."