Can someone help me prepare my city tax return?
Yes, and the help is FREE! We have auditors available from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday who will review your records and prepare your city tax return for you at NO COST. Note that we will prepare only your city return (not federal or state) and we cannot help you with or prepare returns for cities that we don't administer.
If you a question you need answered, call us at (614) 645-7370 during regular business hours.
If you want help with your Federal or State returns, contact the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 or the Ohio Department of Taxation at 1-800-282-1780.
How can I make sure my employer is withholding the correct local tax from my wages?
Look at the gross wage figure on your paycheck stub. If you are an hourly employee, your gross wage has generally been computed by multiplying your hourly rate (or overtime rate if applicable) by the number of hours you worked during the period. Gross wages for a salaried employee are generally determined by dividing gross annual salary by the number of pay periods in the salary year. Whether hourly or salaried, gross wages are determined before any deductions or deferments (i.e. 401K deferrals). If you earned your wages in Columbus, multiply your gross wage figure by 2.5% (.025). The result of this computation should equal the local tax that was withheld from your wages. If you find that the correct local tax in not being withheld, you need to contact your employer to have it corrected. Although your employer is legally responsible for withholding the correct tax and paying that tax to the city in which your wages were earned, the tax is being imposed upon your wages such that you have the final responsibility to ensure that your full tax obligation is being paid.
How do I determine where my local tax is owed?
Local tax is due first to the city in which the income was actually earned. As a secondary factor, you may have an obligation to your city of residence.
For example: If you work in a city that has a 1% local tax rate and reside in a city that has a 2.5% local tax rate and allows 100% credit for local tax paid to your work city, your local tax obligation is 1% to the city of employment and 1.5% to the city of residence.
How do I know that the federal tax information I submit with my return will remain confidential?
Section 361.28 of the Columbus tax code allows the City Auditor or his representative to request Federal information to verify the accuracy of any return made by individuals subject to local tax. Section 361.29 of the Code states that, "Any information gained as the result of any returns, investigations, hearings or verifications required or authorized by this chapter, shall be confidential" and "Any person divulging such information, shall, upon conviction thereof, be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be subject to a fine of not more than five hundred dollars ($500.00) or imprisoned for not more than six (6) months, or both."
How do I know what city I live and/or work in?
First, don't always rely on the mailing address to determine the city in which you live or work. The U.S. Postal Service establishes mailing addresses based upon the Post Office that serves your area, not the city in which you may actually live or work. Similarly, you cannot rely on your School District, since they don't always follow the city boundaries.
A. If you are a registered voter, it should be easy to determine your city of residence.
If you vote for the mayor of a city, you live in that city. For information on how to
register to vote, contact the Franklin County Board of Elections at (614) 462-3100.
If you recently moved or are not a registered voter, you may call the City of Columbus
at (614) 645-7370 and tell the representative that you wish to verify your city of residence.
B. Employers may also call (614) 645-7370 to verify the city in which their employees are working.
I owe city taxes but I am unable to pay my full liability at the time my return is due. Should I still file my return?
Yes, you should file your return by the due date whether or not you are able to pay the entire amount of tax that you owe. You will receive a bill for the unpaid taxes along with late payment penalty and interest charges. The telephone number of our Delinquent Section (645-8152) will appear on the bill so that you may contact that section to arrange for payment of the charges shown on the bill.
I reside in Columbus, my wages are my only taxable income and my employer is withholding my Columbus tax liability properly. Do I need to file a Columbus return?
No, but if you had a filing requirement with Columbus in the prior year and received a pre-encoded form for the current year, you should file a final return indicating that all tax was withheld by your employer so your account can be inactivated.
I work in a city that has a 1% local tax rate and I reside in a city that has a 2.5% local tax rate, yet my employer only withheld local taxes to my city of employment. How do I meet my 2.5% total local tax obligation to my city of residence?
You may request that your employer withhold an additional 1% in local tax to your city of residence. The 1.5% tax due your city of residence is considered an alternate tax due as a result of working in a city that has a tax rate that is less than the tax rate of your residence city. Your employer is not required to withhold the alternate tax, however many employers will withhold the alternate tax due to your city of residence if you request them to. Your employer may contact our Withholding Section at (614) 645-8368 if they have any questions.
I work in Harrisburg and live in Columbus. How do I complete my return?
List your Harrisburg income first, showing no net tax due (assuming correct withholding by your employer). Then, on the alternate city line, list the same wages with a 1% tax rate to calculate the additional tax owed to Columbus (your city of residence). Remember, quarterly estimated tax payments for Columbus are required in this situation and should be submitted on or before the 15th day of 4th, 7th, 10th of the current calendar year and the 1st month of the next calendar year.
I'm a partner in a partnership and a Columbus resident. Do I owe Columbus tax on my income from the partnership?
Yes, a Columbus resident is taxed upon his/her share of all income earned by partnerships (wherever located) in which he/she is a partner. However, full credit (up to the tax due Columbus) is given for all city income tax that was paid to the city or cities in which the income was earned, whether that tax was paid by the partnership as an entity or the you as an individual partner.
I'm self-employed but my business has not shown a profit. Am I required to file a return?
Yes, all residents conducting a business or non-residents conducting a business within the city must file an annual return and report the net profits or net losses of said business. The leasing of real or tangible property (i.e. income from a rental property) that you own is considered a taxable business activity that must be reported.
I'm serving in a fiduciary capacity. What is my responsibility for filing?
Trusts and estates conducting business within the city are required to file a city business return (Form BR-25) and report, at the entity level, all net profits or losses earned or incurred as a result of business activity conducted within the city. Tax is due on the net profits reported as having been earned in the city. Since the tax is paid at the entity level of the trust or estate, beneficiaries are not required to pay city tax on income derived from trusts or estates.
I'm starting a business. What do I need to do about city taxes?
You will normally have to remit two types of city taxes: the net profits tax and (if you have employees) the employee withholding tax.
The first is the tax due on profits of your business, whether your business is a sole proprietorship, corporation or partnership. Incidentally, all the cities whose taxes are administered by Columbus tax the net profits earned within each city by S-corporations at the corporate level. As such, the individual shareholders of S-corps are not taxed. Columbus and Harrisburg require partnerships and the limited liability companies (LLC's) to file and remit at the business level on behalf of all partners. All businesses, with the exception of sole proprietorships, file their city taxes using Form BR-25. Additional information on the net profits tax for businesses other than sole proprietorships is available in the instructions for the BR-25.
Sole proprietorships file by reporting their Federal Schedule C income on the proprietor's individual city return (Form IR-22 or, if reporting tax to more than two cities, Form IR-25). Additional information is available in the instructions for the IR-22 or IR-25. Click on Tax Forms to view and download the IR-22, IR-25 or the BR-25 and the instructions to each. You will need Adobe Acrobat to view the download. If you don't have Adobe Acrobat, you can download it free at http://www.adobe.com.
To remit the second type of tax, the tax withheld from your employees' wages, you will need to establish a withholding account with us. You do this by filing a Form IT-47, which is a simple questionnaire. Employers are liable for all city withholding taxes that should have been withheld from their employee's wages EVEN if those taxes were not, in fact, withheld. Because of this obligation, you'll want to make sure you set-up your employer withholding account as soon as you hire employees. You can call (614) 645-7370 to request to have a copy of the IT-47 mailed to you or click on Tax Forms to view and download Form IT-47.
I have income in addition to that reported on my W-2 from my employer. Can my employer withhold additional tax above the local rate to cover this tax liability?
An employer's withholding tax is not deposited into individual employee's accounts, but into the employer's master account. The total tax withheld from all employees is then reconciled with the total local wages earned by said employees. Because all employer's withholding accounts are required to reconcile the total tax withheld from all employees with the total local wages earned by all employees, withholding by employers in excess of the required tax rate is not permitted. Also as a result of the need to reconcile tax withheld to wages earned, any refund of tax that has been incorrectly over-withheld by the employer is issued directly to the employer, not the employee.
Is a filing extension granted to serving in the military (armed forces) while in a combat zone?
For a complete response click here.
Is city withholding tax based on employee work location or residence?
City withholding is based upon, and employers are required to withhold to, the employee's work location (municipality).
My spouse and I file separately at the federal/state levels. Do I have to file the same for municipal purposes?
No, a husband and wife, in any taxable year, may elect to file separate or joint city returns, regardless of their federal or state filing status.
What are the top 10 mistakes people make in filing a tax return?
10. Failure to sign return or attach check.
9. Failure to file estimate.
8. Failure to advise of address changes.
7. Failure to file return for the year taxpayer moves in or out.
6. Failure to allocate taxes paid when allocating income for move-in/move-out year.
5. Failure to pay 2nd, 3rd and 4th quarter estimated tax payments.
4. Failure to mail return.
3. Failure to attach Schedules/Forms and statements.
2. Failure to attach W-2.
1. Failure to use gross compensation.
What if my employer chooses not to withhold the alternate tax for me?
You should make estimated payments to your city of residence in order to satisfy your total local tax obligation. Estimated payments are due on the 15th of April, July, October and January of the following year. You'll also need to file an individual tax return on or before April 15th of year following the year your wages are earned to report your final tax liability for that year. Your final liability is reduced by your estimated payments and you pay any remaining tax with your return. If your estimated payments exceed your final tax liability, you may claim a refund or credit carry-forward to your next year's return. You may contact our Individual Section at (614) 645-7646 if you need estimated payment forms (Form IR-18) or an individual tax return (Form IR-22) or click here to view and download these forms.
When can I expect my refund?
The city has 90 days from the later of the date your taxes were due or the date your completed refund request is received to review your request. If your return is complete and approved, a refund check will be mailed to you. A refund request is not considered received unless it is complete and all the required information has been provided.
Can I choose between different types of ACH EFT payments?
Yes. You can choose either the ACH Debit or ACH Credit payment methods.
Can I make one ACH Credit payment for more than one city?
No. Because the Columbus Income Tax Division administers city income tax for several other municipalities, a separate payment is required for each municipality using a four digit tax payment type code. A current list of the tax payment type code is available on our web site.
Can the City debit my account without my knowledge or permission?
No. The ACH Debit method can only be initiated by using your City Tax ID number along with your unique PIN. If you use ACH Credit method, your payments are initiated by you through your financial institution.
Is EFT required or voluntary?
Currently, EFT is a voluntary method of remitting the income tax. Certain taxpayers may be mandated in the foreseeable future, but we encourage everyone to participate. There is no minimum threshold for paying by EFT.
What Constitutes Timely EFT Payment?
The effective date of the payment must be on or before the tax due date. Originate the transaction in sufficient time for the payment to arrive on or before the due date of the return or payment.
What if I have a Payroll Service Provider, can I utilize the EFT payment program?
It will depend upon the Payroll Service Provider. Their most common form of EFT payment is ACH Credit. Currently, we do not mandate that Payroll Service Providers pay by EFT.
If your Payroll Service Provider offers this service, it is the provider’s responsibility to submit the ACH Credit Registration Form with the consent of the taxpayer. All Tax Service Provider’s clients are required to register for a unique ACH Credit Registration Number to be included in the Payroll Service Provider’s ACH credit transmission.
What is an ACH Credit Registration Number?
An ACH Credit Registration Number is assigned upon completion of the registration filing process. This ACH Credit Registration Number, consisting of one alpha and five numeric characters, is unique for each taxpayer and is sent in element TXP10 of the Tax Payment detail segment of the addenda record. It is imperative that the Taxpayer ACH Credit Registration Number be included in the tax payment details to provide proper crediting of funds and taxpayer identification.
What is Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT)?
EFT is an electronic method for instructing financial institutions to debit or credit customer accounts and thereby affect a transfer of funds from one account to another. EFT methods for moving funds are faster and more secure than paper checks.
What is the most common EFT payment method?
The ACH Debit method is the most common method used. The Columbus Income Tax Division recommends the ACH Debit method because of the simplicity and cost savings to the taxpayer.
What methods of EFT does the City accept?
ACH (Automated Clearing House) Debit – The ACH debit method allows you to transfer funds by authorizing us to electronically debit (electronically withdraw funds from) your bank account for the amount you report via using the city’s E-File/E-Pay Program. To access the Columbus Tax E-File/E-Pay system, you must have an established City tax account and a City-assigned PIN. Your account will be debited ONLY upon your initiation, ONLY for the amount you specify, and ONLY on the date you specify. To ensure a successful transaction, check with your banking partner to determine if you have a debit blocker in place.
ACH Credit – ACH Credit is a banking term that applies to the electronic transfer of funds in which you, the customer, initiate the transaction by instructing your bank to transfer funds from your bank account to the City. Your banking institution may require you to install software on your computer to create a file that the bank can use to process the ACH-Credit transaction. There will be fees charged to you by your banking institution for costs associated with processing each ACH-Credit transaction.
What steps are necessary to become an EFT taxpayer?
If you have an established tax account with the Columbus Income Tax Division or are a registered tax practitioner or payroll service on file with our office you are eligible to receive a unique PIN for accessing the E-File/E-Pay program. If you do not already have an established account you may complete the online IT47 New Account Questionnaire. It may take up to thirty (30) days after your tax account has been successfully established for you to be eligible to receive a City-assigned PIN. If you have an existing tax account and have not received your PIN by U.S. Mail or have lost the PIN you may request one by sending an email with you name, address and City tax account number to firstname.lastname@example.org After receipt of this complete information your unique PIN for your tax account will be sent to you by U.S. mail. No PIN numbers will be distributed by phone or email.
To use the ACH Credit method, you must register for the ACH Credit Electronic Filing Program with the submission of the ACH Credit Registration Form. Once your application has been accepted and processed, you will receive a confirmation letter with your unique ACH Credit Registration Number. Also included will be our Electric Funds Transfer Taxpayers Guide detailing additional information your financial institution needs before it can initiate ACH credit transactions. You will have to work with your financial institution before initiating ACH credit transactions.
Where do I report my ACH payments on my city return?
When filing a city tax return, you will claim EFT payments as prior payments on a withholding return (IT-11) or as estimated payments on Line 2 of the business return (BR-25) or individual return (IR-25 and IR-22). You may submit your return electronically via the E-File/E-pay application or by mail. If, after completing the appropriate form, additional tax due is shown, payment may be made by a separate EFT submission or by manual check. If a manual check is issued for payment of tax due, a hardcopy return must accompany the remittance.
What is Taxable?
NOTE: This list is intended for reference purposes only. It may not be all inclusive and is subject to revision without notice.
What Are Unincorporated Businesses?
NOTE: This list is intended for reference purposes only. It may not be all inclusive and is subject to revision without notice.
What Income Is Not Taxable?
Who Must File A Return With The Columbus Income Tax Division?
The Columbus Division of Income Tax collects and administers the income tax for:
Canal Winchester (2%)
Marble Cliff (2%)
North Pickaway County JEDD (2.5%)
Prairie-Obetz JEDZ (2%
Prairie Township JEDD (2.5%)