- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 11, 2017

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota’s top tax official warned Tuesday that the GOP Legislature’s deep cuts to state budgets could result in months-long delays to tax returns next year, as Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration continues to push back against Republicans’ spending plans.

Republicans who control the Legislature have laid out some major cuts to state agencies including the Department of Revenue, which would see at least $11 million cut from its budget in the spending proposals approved in both the House and Senate. But Dayton and his administration have repeatedly signaled they won’t accept those and other cuts when lawmakers return from a weeklong break next week to begin negotiations.

Department of Revenue Commissioner Cynthia said Tuesday that Republicans’ budget proposal would trigger more than 200 employee cuts, resulting in delays of several months to delivering tax return checks, regardless of whether Minnesotans file their taxes directly with the state or through an electronic preparer. Those delays wouldn’t take place until at least 2018.

“People are going to wait months and months for refunds,” she said. The Department currently strives to return all of the filings it receives ahead of the mid-April deadline within a month or two, but Bauerly said that would be impossible with fewer staff.

Without a Democratic ally in control at the Legislature to help shape the next two-year budget, Dayton’s administration has shifted to warning that GOP budget plans would harm the services that Minnesota residents rely upon.

Bauerly’s agency is seeking an extra $20 million from the Legislature for the next two years to continue carrying out its normal functions. A top House Republican says that makes it clear the Legislature needs to crack down on government spending growth.

“That shows you that there is just overall mismanagement and we need to take a closer look,” Rep. Sarah Anderson said.

Bauerly’s fiscal worries are compounded by a House proposal that would set up a new, state-based electronic tax filing framework that Minnesotans could use for free starting next year. While it’s worth studying, Bauerly said it would be costly to launch in such a short time span.


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