Missouri Auditor Calls for More Tracking of Tax Breaks

By on October 12, 2017

From The Associated Press:  Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway on Wednesday said the state doesn’t do a good job of tracking the impact of tax breaks that sometimes are pitched as a way to spur the economy.

Legislative estimates of the financial costs and benefits of proposed tax breaks are sometimes inaccurate, according to a report released by Galloway’s office. The Democratic auditor added that after lawmakers pass new tax exemptions, the state rarely monitors the actual fiscal impact. Of the 209 sales and use tax exemptions in place as of June 2016, Galloway’s office says the Department of Revenue tracks only three.

“I’m not saying that exemptions are bad. I’m not saying that incentives are bad. They can be useful tools,” Galloway told reporters in her Capitol office. “But as a taxpayer, we want to know that each one works as it should and as taxpayers we’re getting a return on investment.”

Galloway recommended follow-ups to legislative estimates and suggested that the Department of Revenue start tracking exemptions.

The Revenue Department in a response included in the audit said it’s a good goal to track and report exemptions. But the agency argued that doing so would put a burden on businesses and reporting errors by businesses would likely mean flawed data. The department also said that would require a substantial increase in staffing that’s not currently affordable.

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