Audit finds state department isn't doing enough to publicize refunds

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JEFFERSON CITY — Millions of dollars in tax refunds are going unclaimed throughout Missouri, and the state’s auditor said a department is not doing enough to end the problem.

According to a report published by State Auditor Nicole Galloway, tax refunds are not published for two years during the transition from the Department of Revenue (DOR) to the State Treasury Office (STO). This has led to what Galloway calls a “transparency gap.”

Approximately $3 million dollars in checks are owed to Missourians, but never picked up. Calculations were based off of the year that ended July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016.

“It’s tax dollars that are owed to citizens,” Galloway said. “ They should access to that money. They should have an easy way to search for that money and get it back to them. It’s not the state’s money. It’s citizens’ money.”

Galloway said the situation occurs when the United States Postal Service can’t deliver a check because of an undocumented move, a check is lost in the mail or it’s sent to the wrong address. The DOR publishes a list of undeliverable payments for up to a year. Under the current system, they are taken off of the online inventory for two years. Three years after the checks have been deemed “undeliverable,” the checks are posted on the unclaimed property system.

Michelle Gleba, a member of communication team for the for the department of revenue, referred to a response in the audit and refused to comment further.

“The DOR will work with the STO and discuss our options to publicize undeliverable refund checks,” was listed as the response.

The audit also said in the same year more than $998 million was returned to Missourians. $359 million came via checks.

Meghan Lewis, the Director of Communication for Missouri State Treasurer Clint Zweifel, said the general services arm of the office actively seeks out the owners of undeliverable checks.

She said this happens in relatively few cases. If Missourians believe they fall under this category after the posting was taken down from the DOR’s website, they should contact the Missouri State Treasurer’s Office. The number is 573-751-8533. They can also check the office’s website.