Property Tax Levy Issue Could See House Vote This Week

By Brian Massie, A Watchman on the Wall

Thanks to our friends Tom and Diane Jones for the following article:


Friday, May 10, 2024

J.D. Davidson | The Center Square

The Ohio House could take up a bill this week that would force clear language on ballots for potential property tax increases and stop school districts from using individuals to challenge tax assessments.

House Bill 344 could be on the House agenda when it meets Wednesday after it passed the chamber’s Ways and Means Committee on a Republican-majority 10-6 party-line vote.

Sponsors say voters can sometimes be confused when a school district places either a new, replacement or renewal levy on the ballot. The bill would require ballot language to point out what had been paid and what would be paid if the levy passes.

“Seemingly every election, different property tax levies are placed on the ballot,” Reps. Adam Mathews, R-Lebanon, and Thomas Hall, R-Madison Township, told the committee. “‘New levy’ and ‘increase’ are easy to understand, but many voters treat ‘renewal’ and ‘replacement’ as synonyms when they function entirely differently as replacements can increase the asked-for amount and the taxpayer’s final bill. Voters are also frequently unaware that there is a world of difference between the effective tax rates they are paying on an existing levy and the official ‘voted’ amount they would be paying under a new levy.”

The bill also aims what sponsors say is restoring the intent of legislation passed in 2022 that intended to stop school districts from challenging valuations.

According to Mathews and Hall, since the law went into effect in July 2022, districts have used either their treasurer or an attorney at the district’s law firm to file the complaints. Then, the district would file a counter complaint to allow it to join as a third party.

“This straw man strategy has been used in hundreds of cases and creates an environment without clarity for property owners, investors, and auditors,” the two sponsors said.

The bill would not allow an individual to act as an agent of a governmental entity that could benefit from a valuation increase.

Opponents, however, say the legislation would stop taxing entities from placing replacement levies for voter approval and tightens tax complaint properties for large, undervalued properties.

They say the bill would shift tax burdens from large companies to individual taxpayers.

“At a time of historic property tax increases, I am stunned that my Republican colleagues would vote to shift more of the tax burden onto Ohio’s most vulnerable, essentially raising taxes on them, and then somehow mysteriously calling it tax relief,” said Rep. Daniel Troy, D-Willowick. “Our tax system should be fair and uniform, where no one is overburdened because others are underburdened. Ohioans have been crying out for real, meaningful property tax relief and House Bill 344 does absolutely nothing to help them.”

During committee hearings, the bill was opposed by several government taxing agencies but supported by business groups.

Categories: Real Estate Taxes, State of Ohio

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