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It's early February: Do you know where your W-2s are?

Early bird returns already coming in as tax season begins

By Marc Kovac | Capital Bureau Chief Published: January 27, 2017 11:56 AM

COLUMBUS -- Ohio's tax filing season officially kicked off about a week ago, when state tax officials began accepting returns from early-bird filers.

Between now and mid-April, millions of Ohioans will submit the requisite forms online or through the mail.

Here are 10 things you should know about tax filing season in Ohio:

1. The Deadline: Most Ohio taxpayers have an April 18 deadline for submitting their state taxes, though there are exceptions and extensions (specifics online at www.tax.ohio.gov).

Full- and part-time residents are required to file to account for Ohio earnings, lottery and casino winnings and income from businesses and properties.

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2. Income: For tax year 2014, the most recent full-year statistics available, more than 5.3 million Ohio personal income tax filings were made, according to the Ohio Department of Taxation. That was down about 1.8 percent from the previous year.

But filers reported a higher adjustable gross income -- a combined $408 billion in 2014, up about 6.2 percent from '13, according to the tax department.

The average federal adjusted gross income reported in 2014 was $76,621, up about 8.1 percent from the previous year.

3. Tax Liability: The net tax liability reported on Ohio's 2014 returns was nearly $7.9 billion.

Residents did find some savings -- taxpayers claimed $19.6 billion in personal exemptions, or an average of $3,687 per return, according to the tax department.

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4. Payments and Refunds: Of the returns filed for 2014, about 4 million filers received refunds, averaging about $350 each.

More than 849,000 owed taxes.

The remainder had what the tax department calls "zero" returns, meaning they didn't owe taxes or receive a refund, or they credited overpayments to future tax liabilities.

5. Getting Your Money: Taxpayers who file electronically, with the direct deposit option, should receive their refunds in 10-15 business days. Paper returns will take longer.

6. The Timing: About 88 percent of Ohio tax returns were filed by the April deadline last year, according to Gary Gudmundson, a spokesman for Department of Taxation. And that number probably is a little low, not accounting for paper returns that were mailed.

Also according Gudmundson, about 691,000 electronic returns were filed last year during the last week of the filing season.

7. The Scammers: The Ohio Department of Taxation continues to combat scammers attempting to steal Ohioans' personal and tax information or filing bogus returns with hopes of receiving ill-gotten refunds.

Since June 2014, state tax officials say they have blocked more than $500 million in fraudulent tax refunds.

For legitimate Ohio filers, that means a return of the state's identity confirmation quiz to verify refund requests. Also this year, the Ohio Department of Taxation is asking filers to submit driver's license or state ID information as part of the verification process.

8. Beware: If you receive a letter or an email from the Ohio Department of Taxation directing you to take the ID quiz and you haven't filed your return yet, you should report the potential fraudulent activities on the agency's website.

9. Changes: Ohio filers may see savings, thanks to tax reform measures enacted in recent years.

The business income deduction for 2016 was increased to 100 percent on the first $250,000, with income over that amount subject to a flat 3 percent rate, according to the tax department.

The state also added a deduction for contributions into Ohio's STABLE Account program, which assists disabled residents.

Finally, the state will resume indexing of income tax brackets for 2016, helping to account for the impact of inflation on residents' personal incomes.

10. And Next Year? Don't expect a lot in the way of further income tax cuts as part of the coming biennial budget.

Gov. John Kasich and members of his administration have made it clear that the next two-year spending plan is going to be tight, with little room for the types of cuts implemented over the past half a dozen years.

Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at mkovac@dixcom.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.


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