State tax forum hosted in BG PDF Print E-mail
Written by ALEX ASPACHER Sentinel Staff Writer   
Tuesday, 03 September 2013 15:29
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Local business owner Kelly Wicks faces Rep. Doug Green, from left, and Rep. Gary Scherer at a tax forum inside BG council chambers. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
Recent policy changes in Ohio will either spur job creation or cost most taxpayers money.
The answer depends on whom you ask.
Area residents and representatives of local businesses, municipalities and other organizations testified during a public forum in Bowling Green on Tuesday, the third meeting across the state offered as a way to provide input to members of the Ohio House of Representatives’ Tax Reform Legislative Study Committee.
Many criticized an increase in sales tax paired with a reduction in income tax and other credits they say unfairly benefit the wealthy by increasing the tax burden of middle- and low-income Ohioans.
Kelly Wicks, owner of Grounds for Thought, said a 50-percent tax reduction of the first $250,000 of small-business income would provide him a break of only about $700 per year, and even when applied to larger companies would not result in savings that lead to job creation. The income-tax reduction, meanwhile, would save him just $9 per year, he said.
“I’m here to say that the tax reform does more harm to my customers than it does to help me as a small business owner,” Wicks said of the changes which went into effect Sunday. “The sales tax increase takes more money from hard-working, middle-class Ohioans and transfers it to the richest 1 percent.”
Wicks explained that while a one-cent increase to a regular cup of coffee doesn’t seem like much, it was necessary to offset the thousands per year it would’ve cost to keep prices the same.
“It’s embarrassing when customers realize they’re paying for my tax break, one I did not ask for nor one that actually helps me grow my business or create jobs,” Wicks said.
Zach Schiller, research director of Policy Matters Ohio, said income-tax reductions have not created jobs in the past and instead shift the burden of municipal services onto others.
Others spoke of how the changes, approved as part of the state budget, affect their industry or demographic.
Dr. Gary Holfinger, who represented the Ohio Veterinary Medicine Association and owns four animal clinics in the Toledo area and in Michigan, said the sales-tax increase is bad for his industry and noted that any cost hike to veterinary services may lead to health consequences for humans. More than half of Ohio animal owners spend either nothing or less than $200 per year on pet care, and further neglect could result in disease being transmitted to humans more frequently.
In addition, Holfinger said his company planned to add more services to its newer Maumee location but may instead expand a Michigan clinic due to higher costs in Ohio.
“It’s a situation that is very simple for me — no matter how big a Buckeye fan I am, I have to do the best thing for my clients and for my patients,” he said.
Criticism was peppered with suggestions for further policy changes, such as an increased incentive for charitable giving proposed by Keith Burwell, president of the Toledo Community Foundation, who spoke on behalf of Philanthropy Ohio.
Burwell said a tax credit of up to 20 percent for $10,000 per individual or $20,000 per couple, capped at $20 million, would help retain wealth and keep people from leaving the state.
Others speaking Tuesday included Wood County Commissioner Jim Carter; Henry County Commissioner Glenn Miller; Roger Wise, president of the Ohio Farmers Union; and a tax representative of Owens-Illinois.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 September 2013 15:34
 

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