Thursday, August 05, 1999

Townships: Keep taxes at home

Group: Residents should pay where they live, not work

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        It's SWOTA vs. SWOTAA. Their acronyms are almost the same, but their positions on taxation are at odds.

        The Southwest Ohio Township Association (SWOTA) is pushing for a law that would prevent municipalities from collecting earnings tax from employees who work, but do not live, there.

        The Southwest Ohio Tax Administrator's Association (SWOTAA) wants the law to remain as it is.

        “The township group views tax dollars spent where residents work as lost,” said Marjorie Niesen, chairman of SWOTAA.

        She said the tax dollars provide safety and security during the work day that may not be needed at the township level.

        Mrs. Niesen said the 25-year-old SWOTAA promotes understanding, cooperation and uniformity of operation between various taxing administrations.

        “We work to educate taxpayers regarding local tax under Ohio Municipal Code,” she said. “... Local tax funds a municipality with necessary income to assure 24-hour safety, health and welfare of not only its residents, but also local business and industry.

        Township folks who work in a city or village receive services where they work, funded by local tax dollars where those services are received.”

        She thinks if townships want these benefits, they should vote to become a village or city and tax themselves.

        SWOTA officials said the current law amounts to taxation without representation.

        “We think if you are going to be taxed, you should be taxed where you live,” said Bill Seitz, secretary of SWOTA and a Green Township trustee.

        He said SWOTA intends to place a statewide referendum on the ballot in November 2000. The wording of its petition is being reviewed by Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery.

        “Once we get her opinion we will start the drive to get 400,000 signatures to put the issue on the ballot,” Mr. Seitz said.

        Mr. Seitz referred to the annexation laws which makethe tax issue more intense.

        “Municipalities do not respect our borders. They annex property from townships on the promise that they will offer property-tax abatement. Of course they will. Then they tax everybody who works there.

        “We think the law should allow municipalities to tax only residents. The townships will not benefit from the law,” Mr. Seitz said.

        Russ Jackson, president of the Anderson Township board of trustees, thinks the residents there would be interested in the issue.

        Residents “have everything to gain and nothing to lose,” he said.

        The tax issue is expected to become a topic among 500 township representatives here for an annual conference through Saturday.


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