Archive for the ‘Ohio’ Category

Cleveland Already Has Two Losses Five Months Before the Season Begins

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

Pity the poor folks of Cleveland, Ohio. I actually went to a baseball game at old Municipal Stadium, or the Mistake on the Lake. Today the Ohio Supreme Court dealt the city of Cleveland two losses–and the NFL season won’t begin for five months.

It’s perhaps apropos that on the eve of the NFL draft the tax cases of Jeff Saturday (formerly of the Indianapolis Colts) and Hunter Hillenmeyer (of the Chicago Bears) were decided by the Ohio Supreme Court. Cleveland, like many municipalities and states, imposes a “Jock Tax” on nonresidents. This impacts everyone from athletes to professional poker players. If you’re a resident of, say, Florida but you have income from Cleveland, you get to file a Cleveland tax return.

Both Mr. Saturday and Mr. Hillenmeyer challenged how Cleveland imposed its tax. Cleveland used a games-played method rather than a duty-days method. Cleveland said one game represents one-twentieth of your income (16 regular season games and four preseason games); thus, you owe that times your salary times Cleveland’s tax rate.

Mr. Saturday’s case was the more egregious of the two. During 2008 “More than 72,000 other souls attended the Colts’ dismal 10-6 victory over the Browns.” Mr. Saturday didn’t step foot in Cleveland; he was injured and attended physical rehabilitation in Indianapolis. Mr. Saturday contended that Cleveland has no authority to impose its tax on the income of a nonresident who did not work within Cleveland’s city limits during the taxable year.

Amazingly, when Mr. Saturday appealed his case at the city level (through the Central Collection Agency, Cleveland’s tax administration authority, the Cleveland Board of Review) and at the Board of Tax Appeals (the state level for tax appeals), he lost. Luckily, the Ohio Supreme Court used some common sense.

The second potentially significant passage in the regulation is the part that describes the ratio for allocating income to Cleveland for tax purposes. Both in constructing the numerator and the denominator for the games-played calculation, the regulation includes games the athlete “was excused from playing because of injury or illness.” Cleveland argues that because Saturday was “excused from playing” the Cleveland game, the tax applies to him under this provision.

This argument is unavailing for the simple reason that nothing in the regulation addresses the additional significant fact of Saturday’s complete absence from the city of Cleveland at the time of the game (and at every other time during the year). Had Saturday traveled to Cleveland with the team and been “excused from playing,” the language of the regulation might support imposing the tax. But here, Saturday was not even present at the game, and the regulation says nothing about what to do when the athlete is not even in the city where the game is being played. Thus, the regulation is at best ambiguous as to whether the tax is levied on Saturday.

At least two canons of construction militate against Cleveland’s expansive interpretation of the city’s income-tax law, given that the record here shows not only that the taxpayer was not in Cleveland on game day but also that he was performing job duties in another city on that day. First, it is a central tenet of tax jurisprudence that “a statute that imposes a tax requires strict construction against the state, with any doubt resolved in favor of the taxpayer.” Second, Cleveland’s interpretation violates the “implied condition of all statutes relating to taxation that they have no extraterritorial effect.” Quite simply, Saturday’s absence from Cleveland and his performance of duties elsewhere on the same day raise a strong suggestion that the imposition of Cleveland tax would constitute extraterritorial taxation. [citations omitted]

Mr. Saturday will be getting a full refund of his tax.

Mr. Hillenmeyer’s case is a bit different; he played in games in Cleveland in 2006, 2007, and 2008. The question is not whether Cleveland can tax him (he definitely earned income working in Cleveland); rather, it’s how the tax should be calculated.

Being a professional football player involves lots more than just showing up at games.

Hillenmeyer’s statements were corroborated by the affidavit testimony of Cliff Stein, senior director of football administration and general counsel for the Chicago Bears. Stein confirmed that under the NFL standard player contract and from the time that Hillenmeyer joined the Bears in 2003, he was required to “provide services to his employer from the beginning of the preseason through the end of the post-season, including mandatory mini-camps, official preseason [sic] training camp, meetings, practice sessions, and all preseason, regular season, and post-season games.” Stein also stated that “[t]he compensation Hillenmeyer receives from the Bears is paid for all of these services and not only for games played” and that “[f]ailure to comply with these contractual requirements would subject Hillenmeyer to termination pursuant to Paragraph 12 of his NFL Player Contract and/or fines under Article VIII of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.”

Though Mr. Hillenmeyer challenged the right of Cleveland to tax him (he lost that argument), he challenged the games-played method as a violation of his constitutional rights. The Ohio Supreme Court agreed:

Although we decide that Cleveland has the power to tax nonresident professional athletes without allowing them the benefit of the 12-day grace period, we hold that the games-played method of determining the tax base fails to afford due process when applied to NFL players like Hillenmeyer.

The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that “[no] State [shall] deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” Cleveland’s power to tax reaches only that portion of a nonresident’s compensation that was earned by work performed in Cleveland. The games-played method reaches income that was performed outside of Cleveland, and thus Cleveland’s income tax as applied is extraterritorial.

In guarding against extraterritorial taxation, “[t]he Due Process Clause places two restrictions on a State’s power to tax income generated by the activities of an interstate business.” The first is to require “ ‘some definite link, some minimum connection, between a state and the person, property or transaction it seeks to tax.’ ” The second restriction is that “the income attributed to the State for tax purposes must be rationally related to ‘values connected with the taxing State.’ ”…

Due process requires an allocation that reasonably associates the amount of compensation taxed with work the taxpayer performed within the city. The games-played method results in Cleveland allocating approximately 5 percent of Hillenmeyer’s income to itself on the basis of two days spent in Cleveland. By using the duty-days method, however, Cleveland is allocated approximately 1.25 percent based on the same two days. By using the games-played method, Cleveland has reached extraterritorially, beyond its power to tax. Cleveland’s power to tax reaches only that portion of a nonresident’s compensation that was earned by work performed in Cleveland. The games-played method reaches income for work that was performed outside of Cleveland, and thus Cleveland’s income tax violates due process as applied to NFL players such as Hillenmeyer.

Mr. Hillenmeyer will get a refund of the differential between the games-played method and the duty days method.

So it’s already been a bad day for Cleveland, and (as I write this) it’s two hours until the NFL draft and it’s five months before Browns fans can start chanting (as usual) “Wait until next year.”

Cases: Saturday v. Cleveland Bd. of Rev., Slip Opinion No. 2015-Ohio-1625 and Hillenmeyer v. Cleveland Bd. of Rev., Slip Opinion No. 2015-Ohio-1623

James Traficant Dies

Saturday, September 27th, 2014

James Traficant, the colorful ex-Congressman from Youngstown, Ohio, died today at age 73. He had been injured on Tuesday when a tractor flipped on to him at his farm near Youngstown.

Mr. Traficant spent eight years at ClubFed following his conviction on charges of tax evasion, bribery, racketeering, and obstruction of justice. After his release in 2009, he ran for Congress as an independent but lost. As a Congressman, Mr. Traficant was known for his bombastic style and his trademark saying of “Beam me up.”

My condolences to his family.

Ohio Small Business Owners Get a Break

Sunday, September 7th, 2014

There’s a new tax deduction in Ohio that gives small business up to a 50% tax deduction on their state income taxes. This includes sole proprietorships, partnerships (and LLCs taxed as partnerships), and S-Corporations. The deduction is taken on Form IT SBD. The deduction is on up to a maximum of $250,000 in business income; this means you can have $125,000 for the maximum deduction. The deduction also can’t exceed a taxpayer’s Ohio Adjusted Gross Income.

More information is available from the Ohio Department of Taxation.

The Flow of AGI from One State to Another

Saturday, July 20th, 2013

From watchdog.org comes an interesting interactive map showing how money has flowed from state to state. Back when I moved to Nevada from California, I noted this issue. Here’s yet more verification that this is real.

The five biggest losers were:
1. New York ($68.10 billion in annual Adjusted Gross Income (AGI))
2. California ($45.27 billion in annual AGI)
3. Illinois ($29.27 billion in annual AGI)
4. New Jersey ($20.62 billion in annual AGI)
5. Ohio ($18.39 billion in annual AGI)

The five biggest winners were:
1. Florida ($95.61 billion in annual AGI)
2. Arizona ($28.30 billion in annual AGI)
3. North Carolina ($25.12 billion in annual AGI)
4. Texas ($24.94 billion in annual AGI)
5. Nevada ($18.17 billion in annual AGI)

Sure, some of this is retirees moving from the snow belt to the sun belt. But California is anything but part of the snow belt; it’s clear that successful individuals are fleeing high tax states for low tax states. We here in Nevada are appreciative of the $9.59 billion in annual AGI that has moved from the Bronze Golden State to the Silver State.

Interestingly, the interactive map allows you to look county-by-county. The areas that one would think would show AGI growth are losing AGI. The area around Silicon Valley has lost AGI; so have Los Angeles and Orange County. Sure, some of this is retirees moving to the desert (Riverside County, which includes Palm Springs, showed an increase in AGI). However, there is no chance that this is just caused by retirees.

Taxes matter, and individuals absolutely do relocate because of taxes.

Ohio Back on the Bad List for Gamblers

Friday, July 12th, 2013

When Ohio legalized casino gambling in 2010, they also added a deduction for gambling losses effective January 1, 2013. Taxdood reported that the new budget signed into law repeals this deduction. He believes it’s retroactive; I can confirm that it is retroactive. This is bad news for amateur Ohio gamblers, but will have no impact for professional gamblers; professional gamblers can take gambling losses (up to the amount of their winnings) on their Schedule C.

Here is the list of bad states for gamblers with the reasons why:

Connecticut [1]
Hawaii [2]
Illinois [1]
Indiana [1]
Massachusetts [1]
Michigan [1]
Minnesota [3]
Mississippi [4]
New York [5]
Ohio [1] [6]
Washington [7]
West Virginia [1]
Wisconsin [1]

NOTES:

1. CT, IL, IN, MA, MI, OH, WV, and WI do not allow gambling losses as an itemized deduction. These states’ income taxes are written so that taxpayers pay based (generally) on their federal Adjusted Gross Income (AGI). AGI includes gambling winnings but does not include gambling losses. Thus, a taxpayer who has (say) $100,000 of gambling winnings and $100,000 of gambling losses will owe state income tax on the phantom gambling winnings. (Michigan does exempt the first $300 of gambling winnings from state income tax.)

2. Hawaii has an excise tax (the General Excise and Use Tax) that’s thought of as a sales tax. It is, but it is also a tax on various professions. A professional gambler is subject to this 4% tax (an amateur gambler is not).

3. Minnesota’s state Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) negatively impacts amateur gamblers. Because of the design of the Minnesota AMT, amateur gamblers with significant losses effectively cannot deduct those losses.

4. Mississippi only allows Mississippi gambling losses as an itemized deduction.

5. New York has a limitation on itemized deductions. If your AGI is over $500,000, you lose 50% of your itemized deductions (including gambling losses). You begin to lose itemized deductions at an AGI of $100,000.

6. Ohio currently does not allow gambling losses as an itemized deduction. However, effective January 1, 2013, gambling losses will be allowed as a deduction on state income tax returns. Unfortunately, those gambling losses will not be deductible on city or school district income tax returns, so Ohio will remain a bad state for amateur gamblers. Because of the rescinding of the law allowing gambling losses as a deduction, Ohioans cannot deduct gambling losses on their state, city, or school district returns.

7. Washington state has no state income tax. However, the state does have a Business & Occupations Tax (B&O Tax). The B&O Tax has not been applied toward professional gamblers, but my reading of the law says that it could be at any time.

Hat Tip: Taxdood
Link to full Ohio budget

Copyrighting a Name or 83 Years

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

As a published author, I’m very aware of copyrights. The books I’ve written are copyrighted. This blog is copyrighted. That doesn’t prohibit anyone from making an excerpt–that’s covered under “fair use”–but it does prohibit individuals from plagiarizing the blog. That has happened, and I had to have my attorney send a cease and desist letter. But I digress….

There are things you cannot copyright, too. One of the things that you cannot copyright is your own name. A Youngstown, Ohio man who pleaded guilty to part in a $3 million tax fraud has billed the Youngstown Vindicator $6 million for using his name in two stories. The man, who is facing 83 years at ClubFed, may be waiting those 83 years for payment (when he would be 124). Of course, if you become “in the news” (which would include pleading guilty to your part in a $3 million crime), you become fair game for the news media.

Hat Tip: Joe Kristan

Bad States for Gamblers

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

It’s been a while since I’ve listed out the bad states for gamblers. Here’s an updated list. Make sure you read the notes because while all of these states have tax systems that are problematic for gamblers, some impact amateurs while others impact professionals. Note that I do not cover the laws that impact gambling here (such as Washington State’s law that makes online gambling a Class C felony).

Connecticut [1]
Hawaii [2]
Illinois [1]
Indiana [1]
Massachusetts [1]
Michigan [1]
Minnesota [3]
Mississippi [4]
New York [5]
Ohio [6]
Washington [7]
West Virginia [1]
Wisconsin [1]

NOTES:

1. CT, IL, IN, MA, MI, WV, and WI do not allow gambling losses as an itemized deduction. These states’ income taxes are written so that taxpayers pay based (generally) on their federal Adjusted Gross Income (AGI). AGI includes gambling winnings but does not include gambling losses. Thus, a taxpayer who has (say) $100,000 of gambling winnings and $100,000 of gambling losses will owe state income tax on the phantom gambling winnings. (Michigan does exempt the first $300 of gambling winnings from state income tax.)

2. Hawaii has an excise tax (the General Excise and Use Tax) that’s thought of as a sales tax. It is, but it is also a tax on various professions. A professional gambler is subject to this 4% tax (an amateur gambler is not).

3. Minnesota’s state Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) negatively impacts amateur gamblers. Because of the design of the Minnesota AMT, amateur gamblers with significant losses effectively cannot deduct those losses.

4. Mississippi only allows Mississippi gambling losses as an itemized deduction.

5. New York has a limitation on itemized deductions. If your AGI is over $500,000, you lose 50% of your itemized deductions (including gambling losses). You begin to lose itemized deductions at an AGI of $100,000.

6. Ohio currently does not allow gambling losses as an itemized deduction. However, effective January 1, 2013, gambling losses will be allowed as a deduction on state income tax returns. Unfortunately, those gambling losses will not be deductible on city or school district income tax returns, so Ohio will remain a bad state for amateur gamblers.

7. Washington state has no state income tax. However, the state does have a Business & Occupations Tax (B&O Tax). The B&O Tax has not been applied toward professional gamblers, but my reading of the law says that it could be at any time.

Ohio Gamblers: Don’t Forget Your City Income Tax

Sunday, August 26th, 2012

Ohio has (or will soon have) four casinos: one in each of Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, and Toledo. The good news for Ohio gamblers is that beginning in 2013 Ohioans can deduct gambling losses on their state income taxes. The bad news is that you had better include those gambling earnings in your city income tax.

Columbus became the last of the four cities to expressly include gambling winnings in their city income tax. Ohio city income taxes do not allow a deduction for gambling losses, so these taxes all function as gross income taxes. And the tax rates aren’t small: Cincinnati is 2.1%, Cleveland is 2%, Columbus is 2.5%, and Toledo is 2.25%. I’m certain that slot winnings of $1,200 or more will now be on a W-2G with city income tax withheld.

For Sale: 24,000-26,000 Square Foot Home with an Interesting History

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

The house has 24,414 square feet. At least that much, as it was also measured at 26,828. It has lots of bedrooms: 16, 17, or 18 (depending on who does the counting). And it will soon be for sale, as the home’s original owner is enjoying a very lengthy stay at his new digs, ClubFed.

The home was built for Thomas Parenteau. If that name sounds familiar you may have read about his trial. It could have come out of the pages of a cheap novel:

So far we’ve found out that the mistress, Pamela McCarty, is the mother of Mr. Parenteau’s two daughters; that all three lived in the same mansion; phony jobs and phony paychecks; allegations of $18 million in fraudulent loans…and the trial should last a couple more weeks.

That’s what I wrote in 2010 when the trial was happening. Today that house can be yours. It has plenty of land, and for the Hollywood type who wants to get away from the hustle and bustle, its sits in Norwich Township in the northwest part of Columbus, Ohio. The home appears to be in excellent shape, and it can be yours for somewhere between $4 and $5.5 million.

As for Mr. Parenteau, he won’t be returning to the mansion. The Department of Justice sold the home to a bank; the bank plans on selling the home soon.

22 Years, But at Least He’ll be Away from his Wife and Mistress

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

We’ve written about Thomas Parenteau before. His trial was straight out of a cheap novel: He was accused of tax fraud and money laundering while living in a 30,000 square foot mansion with his wife and his mistress. Last year, he was found guilty on 11 of 13 counts. Yesterday, Mr. Parenteau received 22 years at ClubFed for his crimes.

Joe Kristan and TaxDood have more.