The debate over public policy regarding a practice that allows certain individuals and certain businesses to delay making estimated tax payments seems to be going nowhere fast.
Still, we’re glad the issue hasn’t been pushed under the rug and forgotten. It needs more air, not less.
The five-member City of Findlay tax board has been trying to come up with an acceptable written policy for the unique tax practice for over a year, but apparently can’t agree on the right words.
That the practice has been on the books since 2009, and in use by the city since 2012 without written rules, is problematic in and of itself.
We hope new Mayor Christina Muryn, who serves as chairwoman of the tax board, will be able to bring some much needed clarity to the matter.
During a candidate forum last month, Muryn said she believes the policy is an important resource for both businesses and the city, and helps the city better manage its cash flow. She also said there needs to be a written policy that makes the process more transparent.
We would add it also needs to be fairly applied.
We understand why the policy was created — a massive overpayment during the recession threatened to throw off the city budget when a refund had to be issued.
But that was then, and now city finances are on solid ground. Certainly, Findlay has enough money in the bank to issue refund checks to those who overpaid estimated payments.
Tax refunds are routine for federal, state and local governments. Apparently not in Findlay, Ohio.
While all the back and forth discussions may be frustrating to those involved, the process provides a necessary check and balance in city government.
Beyond coming up with an overdue written policy, proponents of the practice, including Mayor Muryn, must make a better public argument why it is still needed. It also should be made clear who benefits most, those who are eligible to use it, or the city?
If it’s not the city, the board has a simple way to resolve the matter. Set an end date for the practice. Then do what every other city in Ohio already does: Make everyone and every business play by the same tax rules.