SALEM - The state taxman switched gears and gave money back to some local businesses Monday, returning overpayments with interest as part of a policy change.
"We're trying to be more supportive of businesses," Ohio Tax Commissioner Joe Testa said. "The whole idea is to get the money back in the hands of the rightful owners. They're going to use it to help Ohio grow."
Testa visited Adamson Veterinary Services in Salem and handed owner Dr. Vickey Brooks a check for $2,938.20. He also had checks for Brunk's Stoves and RV, located outside of Salem, and Nephrology Associates Inc. of Youngstown.
The total returned to the three businesses, plus interest, was $9,848.39, but according to Testa, the total being paid out statewide in tax overpayments and interest to businesses which may not have realized they had the money coming is more than $40 million. About half the money has been returned so far.
"I absolutely love it. I'm going to reinvest it in the hospital," Brooks said, noting the business recently switched to digital X-rays, which was a large investment.
In the past, Testa said the state didn't notify businesses if they had paid too much and the law didn't require the state to issue refunds. The money remained with the Ohio Department of Taxation and went into the state treasury unless a business initiated a refund request. Many businesses weren't even aware they had overpaid.
According to a press release explaining the new way of doing business, Testa initiated the policy change after learning about the practice of doing nothing to notify taxpayers they had overpaid. There's a plan in place to fix the situation permanently.
Testa said the money isn't doing the state of Ohio any good sitting in the treasury. He said it should be in the hands of the taxpayers to build up their businesses.
He noted that there were no issues on the personal income tax side and that they're just trying to get the business side caught up.
Salem Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Audrey Null was on hand for the check presentations and took part in the ceremony.
"Taking this money from the State of Ohio's treasury and returning it to these Salem businesses will assist our local economy as those dollars will be invested for further economic development. We appreciate Tax Commissioner Joe Testa visiting our community and being a part of this initiative that will ultimately create more business activity," she said.