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Lawmakers look to help businesses; Society offers suggestions

Written on May 1, 2020

By Gary Hunt, CAE, OSCPA communication director


OSCPA Past Executive Board Chair John Venturella, CPA, J.D., asked legislators for a roadmap and specific steps to help businesses as the State of Ohio looks for ways to emerge from the lockdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

VenturellaJOn what would have been Tax Day, Venturella, shareholder with the Dayton office of Clark Schaefer Hackett, represented The Ohio Society of CPAs before a virtual session of the new Ohio House Economic Recovery Task Force. The group was formed in recent weeks as legislators consider how to safely bring Ohio’s economy out of the slumber forced by COVID-19 and related state stay-at-home orders.

In his testimony, Venturella told legislators OSCPA solicited the input from CPAs across Ohio to develop suggestions on how to help Ohio job providers. While a number of suggestions, such as delaying tax filing deadlines, have already been adopted, their most common remaining suggestions were:

An extension of the Commercial Activity Tax (CAT) May 11th filing and payment deadline. Numerous businesses are currently not operating so to gather the information to file and pay the taxes is also going to be difficult.

Adjusted treatment of Net operating losses (NOLs). Ohio should model what the federal government enacted under the CARES Act,” he said. “For losses arising in tax years 2018, 2019 and 2020, a five-year carryback is allowed (taxpayers can elect to forgo the carryback). This law also applies to pass-through businesses and sole proprietorships. Consideration should also be given to making similar changes at the municipal level. OSCPA experts identified a problem with existing state law that, as a result of the favorable federal changes, could cause Ohio businesses to inadvertently incur significant tax bills at the state level.

Financial support for COVID-related expenses, such as state tax credits for expenses businesses are bearing specifically to stay open during the pandemic. Examples include tents and other devices to accommodate food safety; technology expenses to set up employees to work remotely; and purchases of COVID-19 related personal protection equipment, including gloves and glass barriers at stores’ cash registers.Most of all, Venturella said, “Ohio employers need a sense of predictability.”

“As much as possible, impacted industries need a mapped-out process of what their re-entry into more normal operations will look like and how long it will take,” he said. “We know consideration is being given to just that, but time is of the essence because a number of business owners are barely hanging on – we need to give them as much clarity as we can about what’s coming in the near future.”

Read Venturella’s testimony in its entirety. The Ohio House Economic Recovery Task Force has announced it is seeking small businesses to testify, and it is expected to continue holding hearings at least into next week. The group typically meets on weekdays at 12:30 p.m. and the sessions can be watched via live stream on the Ohio Channel.

And as news of the coronavirus continues to develop, refer to OSCPA’s resource page to stay informed.