"Without accurate information, legislators cannot determine if the program should continue, be modified or terminated," according to the audit.
The Neighborhood Assistance Program is a tax credit given to neighborhoods around the state for various improvement projects.
Approximately $8.2 million in tax credits were redeemed during the budget year that ended July 1, 2015. '
In the past ten years, more than $120 million in tax credits have been issued under the program. Of that amount, $111.3 million tax credits have been redeemed.
A tax credit is redeemed by using the credit to offset other state taxes that the holder of a tax credit owes.
The Neighborhood Assistance Program is Missouri's 9th largest tax credit program. Combined, all of Missouri's tax credits cost the state $513 million last budget year.The absence of data to demonstrate what the state has gotten from tax credits has been a frequent criticism from the auditor's office -- particularly for tax credits designed to encourage business expansion and new jobs.
The audit also found the state's Economic Development Department does not always follow its own guidelines when considering projects, and doesn't provide adequate justification when it forgoes these guidelines.
The audit recommends that the agency ensure "all project applications are evaluated in a consistent manner."
In it's response, the Economic Development Department promised to "create a clear process, established in guidelines, that: avoids paying more for accomplishing the same result."