Audit report finds flaws in La. Dept. of Revenue's handling of money

Audit report finds flaws in La. Dept. of Revenue's handling of money

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A review of the Louisiana Department of Revenue (LDR) by the Legislative Auditor revealed the agency needs to get a better handle of its funds.

The LDR is responsible for handling the money that comes from taxes in Louisiana. The legislative auditor's annual review of the LDR from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014 found flaws that could pose some risks with tax revenue.

Auditors found, for example, the LDR did not have effective controls in place to make sure interest on refunds was calculated accurately.

Beth Davis, assistant director of financial audit services, said because of that, the LDR made two overpayments totaling more than $22 million.

"In these cases, the department was not aware of these overpayments until the taxpayer detected those errors," Davis said.

The auditor reports the money was returned to the state. Davis said a stronger system of checks and balances must be put in place to avoid those issues in the future.

The auditor also found some weaknesses in the way the LDR keeps tabs on employees who use LaCarte, a state-issued credit card to make purchases. One, Davis said, showed more than $1,300 in purchases made with the Louisiana Office of Alcohol Tobacco Control.

"With that particular card holder, there were items purchased using another employee's account shipped to another person's personal address. Those things don't look good. It's not a good policy to allow that to happen," Davis explained.

The LDR declined an on-camera interview, but issued a statement in which it said that months before the audit came out, the agency had already aggressively started taking actions to address the matters. Some of those actions involved restructuring within the department.

They included splitting compliance and internal audit functions into two divisions with two directors. The LDR has also introduced new procedures, which the department said will allow more time for review and analysis of its Final Fiscal Report. The LDR is also adding another level of approval to monitor settlements before refunds are issued.

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