Council Committee Mulls Over Proposed State Tax Bill

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A tax bill that has the potential to cost the city of Athens half a million dollars in revenue was the topic of discussion for the Athens City Council Finance and Personnel Committee Tuesday night.

Committee members heard a presentation from city Income Tax Administrator Tina Timberman about the Ohio Municipal Income Tax Bill, an attempt to create a uniform income tax plan for Ohio’s cities. 

The bill is currently being reviewed by the Ohio legislature.

Timberman expressed skepticism of the language in the document, describing the 129-page document as "completely burdensome."

“I believe that it is overstepping the state of Ohio's authority with municipalities and nowhere in the bill is the language easy to understand. I believe it is a wish-list for the Ohio Municipal Income Tax Coalition and special interest groups," said Timberman.

Timberman cited a proposed change in the rules regarding the taxing of low-hour city workers, who were previously taxed at about 20 percent for the few hours of work.

Under the bill, those workers would be tax exempt, costing the city revenue.

In addition to income tax changes, Timberman said an adjustment in the legal definition of audit could necessitate the sending of multiple certified letters for each city tax audit performed, potentially costing a large amount postage.

"I'm really confused, because I don't see the point. This letter here says 'The ultimate goal is to make the tax climate in Ohio more business-friendly while also saving taxpayers money by streamlining government services.' If you just got rid of taxes, you're not really having any effect. So this whole thing looks like a joke," said City Council Representative Jeffrey Wisner (D-2nd Ward)

Under the bill, the city would still be able to control its rates and credits, though the rest of rules would be uniform.

The Ohio Municipal League has asked Ohio cities like Athens to consider statements of opposition to the bill.

“I think it's time for municipalities to get the word out surrounding the negativity of this bill," said Timberman.

City Council members said they will consider a resolution regarding the bill in the near future as more information becomes available.