Tax amnesty program passes Ohio House

By: - May 21, 2020 12:30 am

State Rep. Thomas West, D-Canton. Photo from Ohio House website.

 A bill to give temporary tax amnesty to delinquent payers was approved unanimously by the Ohio House Wednesday

The amnesty program seeks to boost state revenues during the pandemic with tax payments that may not ordinarily be paid without an incentive.

State Rep. Thomas West, D-Canton, sponsor of House Bill 609, said it is a “simple but impactful” part of the economic response to COVID-19-related losses.

The bill was changed slightly while being considered by the House Ways and Means Committee. The bill originally redirected the revenue from the program to the state’s general revenue fund, but now will go to the Budget Stabilization (or “rainy day”) Fund. 

The program was initially set to occur from Aug. 1, 2020, to Dec. 31, 2020, but now will run from Jan 1., 2021, through March 31, 2021.

Businesses and individuals will be allowed to pay their taxes at face value without penalties or interest, the bill states.

Those who are in the midst of legal action or audit can’t qualify for the program. 

Ways and Means Committee Chair, state Rep. Derrick Merrin, R-Monclova Township, rose in support of the bill during Wednesday’s House session, saying the money collected is money the state doesn’t even know it’s missing.

“When taxes are due, we need to make sure it’s fair to everyone, and when someone doesn’t pay their bills, it’s not fair to those who do,” Merrin said.

West said four other tax amnesty programs have been implemented in the last two decades. In 2018, the state collected $14.3 million in unpaid taxes, and a 2012 program netted the state $30.5 million.

The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

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Susan Tebben
Susan Tebben

Susan Tebben is an award-winning journalist with a decade of experience covering Ohio news, including courts and crime, Appalachian social issues, government, education, diversity and culture. She has worked for The Newark Advocate, The Glasgow (KY) Daily Times, The Athens Messenger, and WOUB Public Media. She has also had work featured on National Public Radio.