Whose Money Is It — Yours or ODT’s?

The government may owe you money!

It sounds like a line from a too-good-to-be-true infomercial or internet ad, but unfortunately, in Ohio, it was very recently the case.

The Ohio Department of Taxation has been exposed for improperly withholding $31 million in business tax refunds. A recent Inspector General’s report revealed that not only was the Department of Taxation negligent in returning millions of dollars in overpaid taxes but perhaps even worse — they had a policy of not telling companies who had paid too much in taxes and were due a refund from the state!

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Ohio’s current Tax Commissioner, Joe Testa, is making changes to correct this policy and return the refunds to Ohio companies.  If you think your company may be due a tax refund, you can call 1-800-304-3211 or visit www.tax.ohio.gov.

As we continue to work to increase government transparency and accountability across the state, we need to address not only the policies in need of replacement, but the bureaucratic overtone that leads some in the government to believe that your tax dollars belong to the government.  Far too many are prone to believe that those dollars — even when collected in overpayment — belong to the government to spend as it chooses, rather than to the people who overpaid them.

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This fundamental distinction in thinking can stymie the still recovering economy, preventing hard-working families from having more of their hard-earned dollars to spend.  In addition, these overpayments could have been used by business owners to grow or expand their businesses, hire new employees or give raises to existing employees.

Beyond this egregious case of failing to return tax refunds, this ‘it’s the government’s money’ attitude manifests itself time and again as elected officials try to grow government and confiscate more of your money through higher taxes to spend on programs and projects they allege are in our best interests. Simply put, they think they can spend our money more wisely than the average taxpayer can, so why not seize, keep, and dole out more of our hard-earned dollars?

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It is a mindset that needs to be changed. Of course this problem is not isolated to the state level.  Problems abound at the federal level as well.

ObamaCare alone carries with it 21 new tax increases amounting to $1 trillion in new taxes while still leaving 31 million Americans uninsured.  In addition, a myriad of other new taxes and regulations are leaving our business owners, a.k.a. our job creators, with less certainty, which hinders economic recovery.

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If we need proof that these actions are affecting our nation’s business owners, we need look no further than a recent poll published by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), which laid out small business owners’ answers to the question “what is the most important problem facing your business today?”  Since President Obama took office, the percentage of business owners that rate either “taxes” or “regulations” as the number one concern has risen to 42%, outpacing more traditional business worries such as “poor sales” and “cost of labor.”

Some argue that this uncertainty means Washington should “invest” more of your tax dollars.  They believe more government is the solution rather than the problem and want to raise your taxes in order to accomplish their goals.

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There is a role for Washington to play, but it is contingent upon the understanding that private-sector economic growth and fiscal discipline are the best path forward.  Washington needs to loosen the grip of bureaucrats and regulators, remove the hands of the IRS out of the pockets of working families and businesses, and lift the burdens of laws like ObamaCare that are clearly causing more harm than good.

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Reigniting America’s prosperity is about growing the economy — not the government.  Remember: when the government keeps more of our money, only the government grows.  When people keep more of their money, our whole economy grows.


Eli Miller is the State Director of Americans for Prosperity – Ohio and Americans for Prosperity Foundation – Ohio.

All opinions expressed belong solely to their authors and may not be construed as the opinions of other writers or of OCR staff.

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