Ohio law ensures businesses get tax refunds

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Thursday, July 17, 2014

Tax officials in the state of Ohio will soon be responsible for making sure that trucking operations and other businesses in the state get any available refunds.

Until now, Ohio law authorized overpayments of taxes to be refunded, but only upon request and only during the first three or four years, within the statute of limitations. Any unclaimed money is routed to the state general fund.

In 2013, Ohio Inspector General Randall Meyer issued a report that found the state’s Department of Taxation failed to refund more than $30 million in state taxes overpaid by businesses and often ignored requests for refunds.

Joe Testa, commissioner of the Ohio Department of Taxation, referred to it as “an outrageous practice going on at the tax department for a long period of time.”

The tax department has since started contacting businesses to inform them of overpayments.

However, Gov. John Kasich signed a bill into law requiring the agency to notify businesses in the state when they overpay their taxes and provide automatic refunds in the form of credits toward future taxes.

“Through this legislation, we are making certain that future tax commissioners will be required by law to do the right thing and return these overpayments back into the pockets of the taxpayer where it belongs,” Sen. Bob Peterson, R-Sabina, said in a previous news release.

The changes require the state to notify taxpayers within 60 days of the end of that three- or four-year period.

Previously SB263, the new law also adds the requirement to the tax commissioner’s responsibilities that taxpayers be notified of overpayments so they can claim a refund. Taxpayers could also be credited toward future taxes.

Sen. Bill Beagle, R-Tipp City, said that most businesses don’t know they’ve overpaid their taxes.

“Senate Bill 263 will require the tax commissioner to notify taxpayers of overpayments and will create the most taxpayer friendly refund law in the Midwest,” Beagle stated.

Another bill halfway through the statehouse would allow drivers to provide law enforcement officers with electronic proof of insurance on smartphones and other similar devices. Drivers would no longer be required to have the traditional paper proof of insurance to avoid a ticket.

Sen. Edna Brown, D-Toledo, said the bill is “a simple, common-sense way” for the state to take advantage of technology.

The Senate voted to advance a bill to the House specifying that law enforcement would be relieved from any liability for damage to an electronic device when it’s presented as proof of insurance. However, police would be forbidden from accessing any other information on the electronic device.

The option for digital proof of insurance is growing in popularity. More and more insurance companies offer apps for customers to download on electronic devices.

According to the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, 31 states have adopted the policy.

Brown’s bill, SB255, awaits assignment to committee in the House.

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