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Dem lawmaker introduces tax amnesty bill for Ohio businesses, taxpayers

Susan Tebben, Ohio Capital Journal

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The impact of coronavirus-related economic losses will not fully be realized until much later, according to state officials, but one lawmaker said he’s trying to hold off some of the losses in the form of delinquent taxes.

State Rep. Thomas West, D-Canton, is leading an effort to get a temporary tax amnesty program through the end of the year.

“When (the state starts) to ramp up, we know our sales tax collections and a lot of the revenues that the state would normally get will be down,” West told the Capital Journal.

As a member of the Ohio House Economic Recovery Task Force, West said he thought they would be looking at ways to help out Ohioans, despite the fact that listening to other business owners and residents has been helpful.

“This was one idea that could bolster revenues and help out families and businesses,” according to West.

The bill would allow those businesses or individuals who are delinquent on taxes to pay face value on the taxes without facing penalties or interest, according to the bill’s language.

“This way, we get the debt that’s owed to the state, but this is also a carrot, if you will, to have people come in and take care of their debts,” West said.

The program would not apply to those already in the middle of legal action, audits or assessments.

The amnesty program would run from Aug. 1 to Dec. 31, with the program repealed from law on Jan. 1, 2021, if passed.

West brought a similar version of the bill in 2016, and in his previous role on Canton City Council, a tax amnesty program allowed for a boost in revenue.

The legislature is currently not holding sessions due to the pandemic, but West said he thinks the state legislature t will come back to life sooner than he anticipated.

“We’re still going to have time to get things done,” he said.

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 Daily Times, The Athens Messenger, and WOUB Public Media. She has also had work featured on National Public Radio.

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