Group: Cities Could Lose Big If Work-From-Home Income Tax Law Changed

Sep 16, 2020
Originally published on September 16, 2020 10:54 am

There are two bills that would make changes in how income taxes are collected by the biggest cities in Ohio. And a group that advocates for municipalities is very worried about them.

The bills would repeal a law passed early in the pandemic to protect cities’ income tax revenues, and would redirect those taxes paid by employees working from home to where they live, not the cities where their offices are located.

Alison Goebel with the Greater Ohio Policy Center said the bills would cost Ohio’s six largest cities, which generate more than half of the state’s GDP, over $300 million a year.

“You can’t just say, ‘ok, we’re going to make this huge policy change in the way that income taxes is collected. Let the chips fall where they may.’ That’s irresponsible and is going to have a lot of consequences, probably many that we’re not even able to anticipate right now," Goebel said.

Goebel also notes a lawsuit filed by the conservative Buckeye Institute would hurt cities as well. That suit claims that three of its employees who live outside of Columbus shouldn’t have paid city income taxes while working during the state’s stay at home order.

Goebel said while many offices are still closed with employees working from home, now is not the time to change income tax policy.

“This has been in place for six decades. A six-month pandemic isn’t necessarily the best reason to completely gut and rearrange the tax structure without a clear solution for the communities that would be most impacted by these changes," Goebel said.

Goebel said while working from home may be around for a while, offices will still depend on sewer and water, roads and other systems maintained by cities.

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