Tax assistance, amnesty available for small businesses

The Internal Revenue Service and the Ohio Department of Taxation are looking out for “the little guys.”

The IRS is hosting a workshop for existing or prospective small business owners and the self-employed on Dec. 14 at Columbus State Community College’s Center For Workforce Development building, at 315 Cleveland Ave. in Columbus.

The workshop, which will take place from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., will help attendees understand their federal and state tax rights and responsibilities. Attendees will receive materials and the instruction necessary for compliance with federal and state business tax requirements.

The workshop is free, but registration is required to attend. To register online, visit

For more information, call 614-287-5530 or email [email protected].

Small business owners and self-employed workers are encouraged to check out the information and resources available to them at the Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center section of

In September, ODT mailed invitations to more than 200,000 businesses encouraging them to take advantage of the state’s first use tax amnesty, which ends May 1, 2013.

The amnesty is an opportunity for Ohio businesses to solve a tax problem they may not even know they have.

The use tax is a complement to the sales tax –same tax rate, same tax base– but ODT auditors are finding an increasing number of business taxpayers don’t fully understand the tax or even know they should be paying it.

“We do collect a significant amount of use tax, but much of it comes from companies that have significant accounting and financial resources,” says Tax Commissioner Joe Testa. “It’s the smaller companies without that kind of tax expertise on hand that struggle with or overlook use tax. With the amnesty, we’re trying to make it as easy as possible for them to get a handle on the use tax.”

In general, only suppliers with a physical presence in Ohio are obligated to collect sales tax. If a supplier is out of state, or out of the country, they often do not have to collect Ohio sales tax. That’s when the use tax comes into play. If an Ohio company does not pay sales tax on a taxable product or service, then by state law, they are obligated to pay use tax.

The use tax has been law since 1936.  It was enacted to protect Ohio businesses whose customers were crossing state lines to avoid paying the recently enacted state sales tax.

Despite its long history, Testa says the use tax is a relatively new issue for many businesses.

“With the growth of the Internet and mail-order commerce, more and more companies are buying products and services from suppliers outside Ohio who don’t collect sales tax,” he says. “It can be complicated keeping track of what’s taxable and what’s not. The amnesty is designed to give taxpayers time to build greater understanding of the tax and pay off any outstanding use tax liability at the lowest possible cost.”

The use tax amnesty allows businesses that owe use tax to pay back tax incurred since January 2009 with no penalty or interest. If the amount of tax owed exceeds $1,000, businesses have the option of entering into a payment plan.

Businesses that sign up for amnesty must register for a use tax account and, going forward, comply with all provisions of use tax law.

ODT’s website,, provides resources to help business taxpayers learn about the use tax and sign up for the amnesty program if appropriate. Businesses can also get information and assistance by calling ODT at 1-800-304-3211.