Important Municipal Business Income Tax Reforms are Under Attack

An alarm has been sounded. The great work the Ohio General Assembly has accomplished in simplifying local taxation is under attack. The important municipal income tax reforms from the last four years are being assaulted by a group of cities and villages that filed a lawsuit against the state of Ohio over HB 5 in the 130th GA and HB 49 from the 132nd GA.

These reform efforts happened because Ohio has had the most convoluted and expensive local income tax system in the country. A short primer about the reforms. HB 5, a common-sense effort to make the process more uniform, was passed late in 2014.

A quote from a blog written by Dan Navin of the Ohio Chamber follows. “The facts are these: Ohio’s businesses want to be good corporate citizens and comply with municipal tax codes, but due to the nearly 600 different municipalities with their own unique rules and definitions, it is unnecessarily difficult. This system hurts Ohio businesses’ productivity and competitiveness and Ohio’s ability to retain and attract new businesses.” The Columbus Dispatch agreed that change was needed and would be positive in this editorial. As the Columbus Dispatch argued, “some pain” is necessary for “more gain” to remedy this nightmarish system.

We agreed, as stated in this December 11, 2014, All for Ohio blog. HB 5 is but one of the good reforms the municipalities are trying to turn back in the lawsuit.

This year, included in the current biennial budget (HB 49) was a provision that allows businesses to opt-in to a centralized collection process through the Ohio Business Gateway. If chosen, administration and auditing of the taxes and returns would be done by the Ohio Department of Taxation. This would allow businesses to file one return instead of twenty, fifty or more than a hundred. Savings in compliance costs to businesses are projected to be in the hundreds of millions by the Ohio Department of Taxation.

The third major reform being questioned is the removal of the throwback provision. Throwback is the name of the practice by which cities unfairly tax businesses on sales made to customers not located in that or any other Ohio city. These two changes will improve Ohio’s convoluted municipal income tax system, and lessen compliance costs to business.

Below are a few of the Chamber’s blogs for further info.

Simpler Business Net Income Tax Filing is Finally Here (October 20, 2017)

Ohio Business Gateway Moves Forward with Modernization (August 17, 2017)

Senate Passes Budget, House Fails to Concur, Conference Committee Begins Work (June 22, 2017)

As the lawsuit moves forward, the Ohio Chamber will continue to work with other business organizations and the state of Ohio to protect these valued reforms and the improvement of Ohio. We look forward to continuing our efforts on the behalf of our members.