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2020 Tax Filings May Be Altered By COVID

money; stethoscope

Tax Season is here and the on-going pandemic will force some changes in the way people and businesses will file this year. To hear what those changes are, WYSO’s Jerry Kenney spoke with local business owner and CPA Doug Talmage, who says one significant change for people in Ohio will be for people who have typically taken deductions for working at home.

Doug Talmage: Historically, your employer withholds in the city that you're working in and typically what would happen is if you spent days outside of that city, for instance, I live in Miami Township and I work in a city. So, let's say, if I ended up spending two months out of the year just working from home, then I can file with the city that my employer is withholding and basically get a refund of my city taxes for those two months that I with that I worked in my home.

That's the normal situation. What happened with COVID, and everybody starting to go home? What the state legislature did back in March as they passed a bill and the governor signed it on March 27, basically stating, 'as long as the state of emergency or the COVID emergency is in order or is in place, which I just checked today, and it is still in place, it's still active, then the employers to treat that employee as if they're working at their primary place of business.

So, where people thought they might be able to get some refunds if they were considered to be working at home, maybe where there wasn't a taxing city, if they lived in a township or a non-taxing city, some people might be under the impression that they can get a refund of the taxes withheld by their employer. But that's not the case, as long as it goes actually 30 days beyond the end of the the emergency order.

Jerry Kenney: Have you noticed any trends with regard to the pandemic and how people's situations have changed? Certainly, a lot has changed through simple employment or unemployment as it is.

DT: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think there's definitely been obviously an increase in unemployment, but I think people are finding that they maybe do not have to have the office space that they have today for their employees as employees are able to work pretty efficiently from home. I know we still have half of our staff working from home. They have been since the middle of March and the other half is coming into the office. So, I think there's really going to be an impact on the commercial office space as far as a lot of open space, I think, moving forward. So that's what's one big impact I think, as a result of the pandemic.

JK: And that obviously could move over to commercial real estate sales as well?

DT: Exactly, yes. As an owner of my building, fortunately, I, I occupy the most part of my building, so I don't have to worry about that. So, but yeah, it would negatively impact commercial real estate.

JK: Any other issues COVID related or not, that our listeners should be aware of as we head into this tax season?

DT: I think one other issue that really hasn't gotten much press, and I'm very surprised about it, because when we've had downturns in the economy before and there have been stimulus checks issued, or in this case, unemployment benefits, a lot of people are maybe not aware of when they go to file their tax return, their unemployment benefits, the normal benefits from the state, plus the six hundred dollars a week that the federal government was kicking in, those are all taxable benefits at this point in time. So, a lot of people may be surprised when they have, if they didn't have withholding at the time that they received the benefits, that might impact their tax return dramatically then.

JK: Doug Talmage with Pohlman, Talmage, Brown, and Campbell, thanks so much for the time and the information.

DT: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Jerry Kenney was introduced to WYSO by a friend and within a year of first tuning in became an avid listener and supporter. He began volunteering at the station in 1991 and began hosting Alpha Rhythms in February of 1992. Jerry joined the WYSO staff in 2007 as a host of All Things Considered and soon transitioned into hosting Morning Edition. In addition to now hosting All Things Considered, Jerry is the host and producer of WYSO Weekend, WYSO's weekly news and arts magazine. He has also produced several radio dramas for WYSO in collaboration with local theater companies. Jerry has won several Ohio AP awards as well as an award from PRINDI for his work with the WYSO news department. Jerry says that the best part of his job is being able to talk to people in the community and share their experiences with WYSO listeners.